Manchester congestion charge in doubt

* Backers lose council seats * 1.2 billion grant request ongoing * But new councillors may turn it down...

Manchester congestion charge in doubt

Greater Manchester's congestion charge plans hang in the balance following last week's local elections.

At present, the 10 districts around Manchester, called The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), are planning to fund 3 billion of transport improvements with a Government grant and the introduction of a congestion charge.

However, several of the councillors heading up AGMA lost their seats in last week's elections when the Conservatives made gains on the back of policies that included scrapping any congestion charge.

Despite this, plans remain to apply for a 1.2 billion Government grant to part-fund the transport improvements.

The money would come from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), which was set up to fund 'innovative solutions to congestion problems.'

The other 1.8 billion required to pay for the transport developments would be recouped over a 30-year period using proceeds from a congestion charge scheme.

'Despite the council changes, we are still waiting to hear from Government if our bid for TIF money has been successful,' said a spokesman. 'We will hear in mid-May what the outcome of that is, and then put the plans out to public consultation.

'Once those findings have been compiled, AGMA will reconvene and, taking everything into account, decide on whether to proceed with the congestion charge plans. If three of the 10 vote against the plans then, even if we are offered the Government grant, we will turn it down.'