Manchester Congestion Charge coming?

* Government to back plans * 1.2 billion grant likely * Locals could still reject plans...

Manchester Congestion Charge coming?

The Government is set to give the go-ahead for a congestion-charging zone in Greater Manchester - although the plans may still be rejected after a public consultation.

The Government-backed proposals will incorporate two separate charging rings, the outer one being Manchester's orbital M60 motorway and the inner one based on the city centre.

Drivers would pay 2 to enter the outer ring heading into the city during morning rush hour, another 1 to enter the inner ring and then an extra 1 to exit each ring during the afternoon.

In a significant change from London's scheme, charging will only take place during peak periods: 7am-9.30am and 4pm-6.30pm.

The proposal is part of a bid being made to the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), which will bring up to 1.2 billion of investment into improving public transport in Greater Manchester, including the creation of new Metrolink tram routes. A further 1.8 billion will be raised from public money.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), which is co-ordinating the bid across the Manchester's 10 districts, says that no charge will be introduced until improvements have been made to bus, tram and rail services.

The proposals are likely to face significant opposition. Stockport, Trafford and Bury councils all oppose the scheme, while Bolton council has pledged to hold a local referendum on the matter.

The plans will now go to public consultation across the AGMA regions, with the representatives of the 10 regions then voting on whether to go ahead with the plans.

If three of the 10 vote against the plans, then AGMA will formally reject the Government's offer of a grant.