Manchester congestion charge battle

* Council leaders prepare to vote * Ballot question draws criticism * Charge would be implemented in two areas...

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Jim Holder
22 October 2008

Manchester congestion charge battle

A war of words has broken out in the run-up to the referendum on the introduction of a congestion charge in Greater Manchester.

The 10 council leaders from the districts within Greater Manchester will vote on October 31 in response to the question: 'Do you agree with the Transport Innovation Fund proposals?'

For the congestion charge to be introduced, at least seven of the 10 districts must vote in favour.

However, the wording of the question has been criticised.

Graham Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: 'By all means it can mention the Government-funded Transport Innovation Fund, and therefore the money which might be involved in some public transport projects, but vitally it has got to mention the tax.

'To have a referendum on the introduction of a congestion charge that doesnt even mention the congestion charge is absurd.'

The question was drawn up by Sir Neil McIntosh, the independent returning officer for the referendum, who said he believed the question was 'fair, clear and balanced.'

Under the proposals for the charge - which is expected to cost 318m to set up - motorists would have to pay to cross the M60 and a second ring around the city centre at peak times.

Residents will vote on the proposals by December 11.