National Alliance Against Tolls - Manchester Congestion Charge

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MANCHESTER TOLL TAX or "CONGESTION CHARGE"     (page revised 12 December 2008)
Various cities in England were given money by the Government from the "Transport Innovation Fund" to look at road pricing, but only two volunteered - Cambridgeshire and Greater Manchester. Cambridgeshire later effectively withdrew their submission, leaving Manchester City and the nine other council areas that make up Greater Manchester as the guinea pig for road tolls in Britain.. A postal ballot took place which closed on 11th December. If most people (overall and in at least seven out of ten of the districts) have fallen for the advertising and voted to support the plans, the tolls would go ahead. BUT THEY ARE NOT!


District Voters Yes No rejected Total % No share
Bolton 199,819 20,529 76,910 167 97,606 48.8 78.9
Bury 140,441 16,563 64,001 94 80,658 57.4 79.4
Manchester 340,730 43,593 113,064 250 156,907 46.1 72.2
Oldham 159,328 17,571 68,884 141 86,596 54.4 79.7
Rochdale 155,830 17,333 61,686 118 79,137 50.8 78.1
Salford 164,982 14,603 79,326 105 94,034 57.0 84.5
Stockport 216,973 24,090 103,706 169 127,965 59.0 81.1
Tameside 164,062 16,323 83,105 124 99,552 60.7 83.6
Trafford 163,677 20,445 83,568 142 104,155 63.6 80.3
Wigan 235,043 27,810 78,565 132 106,507 45.3 73.9
ALL 1,940,885 218,860 812,815 1,442 1,033,117 543 78.8

star Victory Press Release (written before the result was announced (as pdf file)   (as Word file)   (as plain text file)
TOLL TRUTH   The latest stories - MANCHESTER TOLL NEWS page.

  • Vote "No" and discuss the issue with other people and urge them to vote. Don't let apathy and fatalism win.
  • Get involved, including distributing "No" posters etc. To do this please contact us by email (address changed April 2016)
  • Write to the papers and email your councillors and council leaders; (here is an example email).
  • You can also contact us by phone - 0774 269 5699 or Subscribe to MART mailing list.
    On this page -
    VOTING OUTURN FIGURES (voters, not the Yes / No split)
    Consultation   Posters etc   "TIF"   Videos

    On separate pages -
    Reports to the authorities   National Road Pricing page   Edinburgh page

    Other sites -
    MANCHESTER TOLL TAX (Manchester Against Road Tolls)

    Links to all "No" and "Yes" sites.


    trafford   trafford   traffordSome of the thousands
    who signed that they wanted
    the tolls scheme scrapped

    Because almost no one wants road pricing, the Government have promised large sums of money to areas that volunteer and are selected as pilots for road pricing. They are doing this through the "Congestion Charge" part of the "Transport Innovation Fund" (TIF).

    Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) made TIF submissions in 2005 and 2006. The submissions were said to be made on behalf of all the councils in the Greater Manchester area. Following the submissions, the GMPTA / GMPTE was given money towards the cost of researching a transport scheme including road tolls. More about the "Transport Innovation Fund".

    The authorities tried to pull the wool over people's eyes in various ways. First of all by denying that they had any definite plans to have road pricing and referring to four meaningless "tests" which a scheme would have to meet. Secondly by setting up a panel to oversee this, selecting the people on the panel themselves and then calling it "Independent". Thirdly by keeping what they were doing as secret as possible so that not even the councillors seemed to have any idea what was going on. We raised some of these concerns with the Local Government Ombudsman but he washed his hands of it.

    On 25th May 2007, the 10 councils announced a further TIF submission would be made, but this time it would be a full scheme. They gave a brief outline of what phase one would involve. It was very similar to the two cordon scheme which was rejected by the people of Edinburgh. The people of Greater Manchester were, at that stage, to be given no choice.

    The scheme to have road tolls in and around Greater Manchester was supported by 8 out of 10 Councils at a meeting on 27th July 2007 (Stockport and Trafford voted against, and Bury later backed away). The leaders that voted for the scheme had in effect agreed to sign a blank cheque as they were not given the full details of what was to be sent to the Government at the beginning of August 2007. We made Freedom of Information Act requests to see what was being proposed, but the Government refused. Over a year later some of the submission was revealed, but some of it is still secret.

    The Government spent nearly a year looking at the submission, and then announced on the 9th June 2008 - The letter dated 9th June 2008 from DfT to Lord Smith and Sir Howard Bernstein (pdf document) - that the scheme was being given "Programme entry", which meant that the Government supported the package in principle. The majority of the Council Leaders agreed to continue with the plans but in a surprise move two weeks after the Government announcement, it was decided by the Manchester City Council boss that there would after all be a "referendum". The change of heart may have been because MART had said that if there was to be no ballot on tolls, then they would force a proxy ballot on the question of elected Mayors.

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    The "referendum" is by postal ballot. The forms went out in the last week of November and they have to be returned by 10 PM on Thursday 11th December. The result will be announced the next day. Interim figures for numbers voting (but not split between "Yes" and "No") are being released on 2nd, 5th and 8th December
    "Office of the Returning Officer For the Greater Manchester Transport Referendum".

    rochdaleThis picture is of protestors from MART in Rochdale demanding a "referendum" on the day (10th June 2008) that the Government gave their approval to the scheme.

    But like the road tolls themselves the "referendum" that is being held is a bit of a "con".

    As with Edinburgh in 2005, the ballot paper and the whole process around it appears to be designed to obscure the real issue in this poll - road tolls - and to minimise the number of people who will vote "No".
    (What happened in Edinburgh - Scotsman December 2004 - "City presses on with 'biased' toll question"   Scotsman December 2004 - "Tories claim city leaders reneged on referendum question vow"   Debate in Scottish Parliament about the "Referendum"   The Edinburgh Con leaflet.)

    Legally what is to take place is not a "referendum" at all, it is a local poll under Section 116 of the Local Government Act 2003. This is not just a case of semantics. If this really was a referendum under the "Political Parties, Elections And Referendums Act 2000" then there would be strict rules over its conduct and the authorities would not have been able to spend money on getting the result that they want. With a Local Poll there are no rules - they don't even have to pay any attention to a "No" result, though it is not likely that they would carry on regardless.
    From Electoral Commission - Guide to the rules that would have applied if this was a real Referendum   Guide to the "question" if this was a real Referendum.

    martbanner1We have various issues with the "Ballot Paper Pack" -
    1. This poll is really about the issue of the road tolls, it is not about transport. Yet that issue is buried by referring to "Transport Referendum" and "TIF Referendum" and using the phrase "Congestion Charging" which has no statutory basis. The legislation (Transport Act 2000) also tried to avoid the phrase "road tolls" - but did so by using the expression "Road User Charging". To take this camouflage for tolls further and call it "Congestion Charging" was dreamt up by advocates of road tolls, to give the impression that it is some form of sin tax.

    2. The real issue is also minimised by having a leaflet which deals with the transport spending first and does not go into the details of the "congestion charging" till page six.
    There is also nothing about the real issue in the main part of the question - "Do you agree with the Transport Innovation Fund proposals?"
    The preamble does mention "congestion charging" but seems to be trying to trivialise it - "... major investment in public transport improvements in Greater Manchester and a weekday, peak time only, congestion charging scheme. Congestion charging would only be introduced after 80% of the public transport improvements are in place and not before the summer of 2013."

    3. The wording and contents of the leaflet seems like material from the GMPTE who are effectively the promoters of the scheme, and it goes so far as to refer those who would "like to know more about the public transport investment or the congestion charging scheme" to the GM Future Transport web site. A site which is in effect a commercial encouraging people to vote Yes.

    4. Most importantly there is nothing in this leaflet that reflects the views of the No side. It says -

    nothing about the risks that schemes will not go ahead or that costs may overrun,

    nothing about the failure of the London scheme to improve traffic speeds or air quality,

    about the vast amount that will be wasted in administering the scheme,

    nothing about the possible negative impacts on various parts of the economy and on individuals,

    nothing about the problems related to enforcement of the regime, and

    nothing about the risk that despite whatever safeguards are promised the scheme will be expanded with higher tolls, less "exemptions" and more areas or times affected.
    LATE VOTING - For those who had not voted before the 11th, there was some guidance on the Returning Officer's site - "Frequently Asked Questions". That indicated that papers being returned on Thursday 11th could be handed in at various centre. But there was also an arrangement where any ballot papers could be posted by last post (time will vary between pillar boxes) and should then have been specially sorted and included in the count.

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    District Voters Tuesday 2nd Friday 5th Monday 8th Wednesday 10th Friday 12th Our last prediction
    Voted % Voted % Voted % Voted % Voted % Voted %
    Bolton 199,819 42,534 21.3 54,922 27.5 70,343 35.2 85,126 42.6 97,606 48.8 98,000 49.0
    Bury 140,441 38,394 27.3 50,336 35.8 58,159 41.4 70,573 50.3 80,658 57.4 80,000 57.0
    Manchester 340,730 45,900 13.5 79,187 23.2 109,155 32.0 132,876 39.0 156,907 46.1 156,000 45.8
    Oldham 159,328 44,422 27.9 53,661 33.7 65,297 41.0 77,993 49.0 86,596 54.4 89,000 55.9
    Rochdale 155,830 36,382 23.3 46,928 30.1 60,422 38.8 70,820 45.4 79,137 50.8 82,000 52.6
    Salford 164,982 38,842 23.5 47,720 28.9 62,454 37.9 82,979 50.3 94,034 57.0 92,000 55.8
    Stockport 216,973 57,636 26.6 73,926 34.1 89,432 41.2 112,782 52.0 127,965 59.0 129,000 59.5
    Tameside 164,062 46,355 28.3 61,248 37.3 71,059 43.3 89,169 54.4 99,552 60.7 100,000 61.0
    Trafford 163,677 32,843 20.1 58,980 36.0 75,142 45.9 91,085 55.6 104,155 63.6 105,000 64.2
    Wigan 235,043 42,305 18.0 62,349 26.5 80,637 34.3 93,751 39.9 106,507 45.3 109,000 46.4
    ALL 1,940,885 425,613 21.9 589,257 30.4 742,100 38.2 907,154 46.7 1,033,117 53.2 1,040,000 53.6

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    marketThose who want road tolls have made various claims over the last two years. Below are some of their claims, and the facts as we see them.

  • Can't have a vote
  • "Only" £5
  • Tooth fairy is giving billions
  • Almost no one will pay toll
  • Council tax and fares won't go up
  • Vote Yes and fares will go down
  • Will improve air quality and reduce asthma
  • Will save the planet
  • Not spying on us
  • Won't harm less well off
  • Collection will cost next to nothing
  • Road users are getting a free ride
  • Will gain 30,000 jobs
  • Businesses support tolls
  • Want to reduce congestion
  • Doing nothing is not an option
  • Will save 135 lives a year
  • Other cities have it
  • Need better public transport

  • Can't have a vote

  • They originally said that there could not be a "referendum" on this issue because the Greater Manchester scheme was too complex for a "Yes" or "No" question, and that the Edinburgh referendum or "Toll Poll" in 2005 was just a Yes/No vote on whether to have the congestion charge, nothing else.

    BUT in fact the question that was put in Edinburgh was biased to try and get a "yes" vote. Here is the EXACT question on the ballot paper - "The leaflet enclosed with this ballot paper gives information on the Council's transport proposals for Edinburgh. The Council's 'preferred' strategy includes congestion charging and increased transport investment funded by it. Do you support the Council's 'preferred' strategy?" "Yes or No?".
    The real reason that the people in Greater Manchester were initially denied a vote was because the people behind this plan feared that they would lose even with a biased question, leaflets with fake "case studies" and millions spent on a spin campaign. Though at the last minute they decided to gamble and are following almost exactly what Edinburgh did.
    Edinburgh Council press release   Our Edinburgh page   Our "REFERENDUM" section on this page.

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Tooth fairy or Father Christmas is giving away billions

  • They say that there will be billions of pounds available for trams etc and give the idea that this will be a present from the tooth fairy.

    BUT the reality is that most of these billions will come out of the pockets of drivers forced to pay these so called "charges" or new "toll tax".
    The authorities have tried to keep all of the figures secret, so despite the spin and promises no one knows definitely what schemes will actually go ahead or how much has been set aside to be spent on each one.
    The total spend was given in the Government letter of 9 June 2008 to two of the people behind this scheme - Lord Smith and Sir Richard Bernstein. The letter gave total TIF spending of £2.7 billion of which £1.15 billion was to be borrowed. Part of the £2.7 billion is for setting up the road toll scheme, the letter does not say how much but elsewhere figures of up to £470 million have been quoted.
    The cost of the borrowing plus interest on the loan plus the cost of collecting the tolls will be met from road tolls. Even the authorities themselves ( using their own optimistic forecasts of toll collection costs) estimate that over the life of the scheme, they will be collecting £8,574 million - GMfuture transport - "Funding and Finance Supporting Paper" figure 6 on page 10.

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    "Only" £5 a day

  • They say that charges will "only" be £5 a day for drivers who cross both cordons.

    BUT they qualify this claim by saying that figures are "At 2007 prices for pre-registered users" - GMfuture transport (near bottom of page). And this is only "phase one". The ultimate aim is charges of up to £1.34 a mile on most roads, including motorways.
    BBC 6 June 2005 - "'Pay-as-you-go' road charge plan".

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    Almost no one will pay the toll

  • They say that few will pay and have claimed it is one in ten - to be more precise the main official claim is that 91.9% of car trips on a weekday will not pay any toll at all.

    BUT these figures have been produced by those who are trying to sell the scheme, and it is puzzling that the official "Yes" figures on the future transport website shows that 20 percent of "weekday, peak period, two-way round trips to, from or within Greater Manchester" will incur a charge (page 2 figure 1). There used to be a similar result if you looked at the FAQ number 4 on the GM Future Transport website at "How many drivers would pay the congestion charge?" but towards the end of November, the question and the answer disappeared. It is not clear how the 20% official figure becomes a 10% official figure. Is it that though we have not got a toll yet, half the drivers are already travelling outside the peak? Or is it because drivers taking "one way trips" dislike road tolls so much that they don't come back?

    The official figures showing that 91.9% of car trips on a weekday will not pay any toll, become even more incredible if you look at the official figures as to how many of those who pay will pay the full £5 - it is only one in ten, with the average toll being £2. We seem to be left with almost no one paying £5, but again using official figures, over the 30 years of the scheme they say that they need to gross over £8 billion in tolls to break even (in fact they will need even more as they have determined that collection costs will be "only" 15 per cent, while in London it costs over £4 to collect £8 gross). BUT if you accept the official figures AND also assume that there will be no overspending (projects on this scale are usually vastly overspent), is it plausible that this £8 billion is only coming from a few drivers and they are paying £2 on average?

    From John Jeffay's blog on MEN site "Is anybody going to pay the congestion charge?".

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    Council tax and fares won't go up

  • They say that Council Tax won't go up to pay for the spending, and that neither will fares, they have even said that the low paid will get fare discounts.

    BUT using their own figures - GMfuture transport - "Funding and Finance Supporting Paper" figure 6 on page 10 - they need to collect £12,544 million of revenue of which £220 million will come from the Government as "TIF revenue grant", £3,416 million from fares, £8,574 million will come from tolls, £179 million from "commercial sources" and £155 million from "cash and reserve balances". With all their promises about hardly anybody paying the tolls, and all the exemptions and discounts and lower fares it is difficult to credit that they will get the £12 billion that they need to pay back loans, pay interest, and cover the cost of collecting the tolls and running the promised extra services.

    If you look at the assumption about the cost of collecting the tolls, the figures are even more difficult to credit. They say that it will cost them £1,289 million to collect £8,574 million from tolls and make the £7,285 million profit that they need. But in London most of the charge income has been needed to cover the cost of collecting and enforcing the charges, and if the cost of collecting and enforcing the charge in Manchester was as high as London, then there would be a big loss because they say that the average charge in Manchester will be £2, whereas in London the charge is £8.
    If we compromise and say that half of the Manchester tolls will be a profit, then based on their own figures to make the profit of £7,285 million that they need from tolls, they would need to collect £14.5 billion from tolls!

    Apart from the difficulty of getting this £8.5 or £14.5 billion from tolls, there is another BIG problem. It is the ultimate in Catch 22s. The Manchester scheme is a pilot for national road pricing, and if the Manchester scheme goes ahead, then it will considerably increase the chances that the Government will bring in tolls on all roads, and it will then want all the toll income. The Government recognise this in paragraph 58 of the 9th June 2008 letter under "Risk share" - ".. In the event that a change of law causing .. a material reduction in net revenue accruing from the scheme .. Proposals for addressing this would need to be determined..". They can not tie the hands of what any future Government or Parliament may decide, so any loss of income may have to come from local taxes.

    There are other risks such as overspending on the promised schemes, or drivers boycotting Manchester, or mass civil disobedience on a scale bigger than the Toll Tax revolt with drivers still using the road but refusing to pay the tolls and fines (they can't take everyone to court and then send them to gaol!). All of these risks are considerably increased because they plan to spend nearly all of the money before they attempt to start collecting the tolls. (And by then the politicians who inflicted this scheme on Manchester may have been thown out of office by the electors.) So what happens then?
    In paragraph 62 of the 9th June letter it says that "".. In the event that revenue shortfalls execeed the levels allowed for .. you have agreed there are three further options for meeting the gap - increasing the levy, reducing discretionary PTE programmes and increasing fares." Without the jargon this means more local taxes or more fares or less spending on planned transport schemes.

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    Vote Yes and fares will go down

  • They have said that "A 'Yes' vote would deliver cheaper fares for all across Greater Manchester" and their adverts say "I want cheaper bus fares - That's Why I'm voting Yes".

    BUT According to the official Future Transport site in the TIF "Final package" there is only a proposal for - "A 20% reduction on public transport fares, in the morning and afternoon weekday peak periods, for low paid workers (minimum wage hourly rate at £5.52 in 2007 values) via the smartcard." (Para 19.)
    It is not even clear whether this is a permanent arrangement as the document also says that during the first two years "analysis will be undertaken to validate the impact of the .. discount for low paid workers on public transport at peak, against the AGMA tests." (Para 67.)

    So despite the "Yes" claims very few people would qualify, it would not apply to all their travel and might be taken away after two years. And of course as this is a means tested beefit, some of the few who might benefit would not even apply.

    The Alliance contacted the Advertising Standards Authority about the adverts. But the ASA said that the contents of "referendum" adverts are exempt from the Committee of Advertising Practice Code, unless they are broadcast. So they can say what they like.

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    Will improve air quality and reduce asthma

  • They say that tolls are needed because it would result in a tremendous improvement in air quality and eliminate asthma and other respiratory diseases.

    BUT there is little evidence that external air pollution is a significant asthma factor though it may have an effect on those who already suffer from it. Cars are many times cleaner than they were and are now a relatively minor source of the worst air pollutants and according to official sources, the worst air pollution is in rural areas NOT in cities. The worst sources of pollution on roads are not cars but buses, lorries and taxis - all of which are to be exempt under the Manchester toll plans.
    There is a more on this at our section on Air Quality. There is also - what we said when similar claims were made during the Edinburgh 2005 Toll Poll.

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    Will save the planet

  • They say that road tolls will reduce CO2 and thus save the planet from baking heat / flooding.

    BUT a lot of people think that Global Warming is little more than a religion. If we assume that the believers are right and that we should make a sacrifice, how significant would it be?

    Britain's contribution to the Global figure for man made CO2 is about one part in fifty, if we just take the Greater Manchester area (2.6 million people out of 61 million in UK) then the Greater Manchester share of Earth's man made CO2 emissions is about one part in one thousand two hundred.

    The emissions of CO2 from cars in Britain is about 13% of the total. So if every person in Manchester stopped using cars, then the amount of Global man made CO2 would fall by about one part in ten thousand. The world population is currently increasing at the rate of about 80 million a year, this means that the effect of Manchester stopping the use of cars would be wiped out in about 3 weeks....

    ....Though there might not be a fall in CO2 at all, as it depends what people do instead. All other forms of transport, even electric trams, directly or indirectly use fossil fuel. (All the available energy from nuclear power and from renewables is already consumed because the fuel cost is in effect free. So while coal, gas and oil continue to supply a significant amount of electricity, they in effect supply all new demand such as more trams.) Even walking or cycling will create CO2 emissions as we all breathe out CO2 and this will increase with exercise!

    Our section on "Greenhouse gases and cars".

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    They won't be spying on us

  • They say that they will not be spying on drivers.

    BUT they will be installing one of the biggest surveillance systems in the world so that they can trace drivers and send in the bailiffs if they have not paid.
    Evening Standard 18 July 2007 - "Big Brother cameras to track millions of innocent drivers".

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    Tolls won't harm less well off

  • They say that charges will not harm less well off drivers and that there will be discounts and exemptions for the low paid and the sick. They also say that these discounts will apply to low paid travelling by public transport.

    BUT their aim IS to force some drivers off the road, sooner or later this could mean you.
    As for the promised discounts and exemptions, who will be paying for this? They said at one stage that public transport fares would rise because of TIF, now they say that fares will go down!
    This would be the first time that exemptions and discounts have been attempted with a road toll schme. It would be subject to the usual problems of a benefit system - it would be costly and difficult to administer, there would be fraud, and many people who need the benefit won't apply.
    Times 6 December 2006 - "England's Brown and unpleasant land".

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    Collection will cost next to nothing

  • They make it seem that charges will cost next to nothing to collect.

    BUT the London charge costs £4 a day per vehicle to collect and enforce. And this is net of the income from fines and bailiffs' fees! If a full national road tolls scheme was introduced the costs would be the same as adding 20 pence tax to a litre of fuel - that is just to recover the cost of collection!

    From Transport For London accounts   2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 TOTAL
    Revenue £m 18.5 186.7 218.1 254.1 677.4
    Expenditure -            
    Toll facilities £m 58.2 120.9 120.8 143.5 443.4
    Traffic management £m 4.2 2.0 0.6 0.4 7.2
    Deferred charges £m 14.0 17.2 -1.7 0.0 29.5
    Depreciation £m 0.3 1.1 1.6 2.8 5.8
    Capital financing charges £m 0.1 0.2 0.4 1.1 1.8
    Total Expenditure £m 76.8 141.4 121.7 147.8 487.7
    Net Income £m -58.3 45.3 96.4 106.3 189.7
    From TfL Four Year Report -            
    Charge income £m 18 116 117 144 395.0
    Enforcement income £m 1 55 75 66 197.0
    Estimated vehicle days millions 3.6 23.2 23.4 19.9 70.1
    Expenditure per vehicle day £ 21.33 6.09 5.20 7.42 6.96
    Net of enforcement income £ 21.06 3.72 2.00 4.11 4.15

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    Road users are getting a free ride

  • They say roads users are getting "a free ride".

    BUT roads users already pay £50 billion taxes a year, and get almost nothing back.
    Road Taxes and spending.

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Will gain 30,000 jobs

  • They say that if they do not introduce road tolls then Manchester will lose 30,000 jobs due to congestion.

    BUT this is just a figure which appears to have come from consultants paid by the authorities.
    If you look at what seems to be the detail behind these figures, then it is not only misleading it is frightening. The official prediction is that in the Manchester area by 2021 there will be a growth of over 200,000 extra jobs. The 30,000 is they say the part of these extra jobs that will not be created if nothing is done about traffic congestion. It seems that the only way that Manchester traffic is to cope with all these extra jobs is to introduce road tolls rather than improving roads. But how about everything else? 200,000 more workers means about 400,000 extra people allowing for children etc, and means about 150,000 extra dwellings just to cope with all these extra workers and their familes. Where will these houses be built? And all the other facilties that would be needed, including schools, doctors, dentists, water, refuse disposal etc etc? It appears that none of this matters as long as the politicians and town hall bureaucrats can cram in as many people as possible and then try and stop them from using the roads through the charging of road tolls. Who would want to live in this Stalinist state and pay road tolls in order to cram in even more people?

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Businesses support tolls

  • They say that local businesses support tolls as a "price worth paying".

    BUT most businesses do not want their customers, employees and suppliers to have to pay more when they use the roads.
    A lot of these businesses formed the Greater Manchester Momentum Group. Other groups opposed to the plans include the Federation of Small Businesses who say that "The FSB is totally opposed to the introduction of congestion charges in Greater Manchester, or anywhere else come to that", and the Forum for Private Business who started a petition against it.

    One of the "tests" that the tolls scheme was supposed to have passed before they decided to go ahead with it was that "Measures must be acceptable, not only to the public but also to the business community". There was an official consultation including businesses, the results of which were announced at the end of July 2007. The authorities said that most businesses supported the TIF submission, but the detailed figures showing all the answers and the questions do not appear to have been published.

    Though the detail is not available, it seems that most businesses in July 2007 said "Yes" to a question of whether they supported the principle of a submission subject to "further consultation with the public and businesses before the schemes are introduced.",
    But said "No" to "The proposal is that congestion charging would only operate at peak time, on weekdays, for inward journeys in the morning and outward journeys in the evening. For the longest journey, the maximum cost in the morning would be £3 and in the evening £2. These charges would only be introduced after there has been a large investment in transport in Greater Manchester. All of the money raised from the charges would also be invested in improved public transport. From the point of view of your organisations, do you agree or disagree with this overall proposal?".
    The authorities do not seem to have understood that this meant that businesses were saying "No" to their plan.

    The authorities carried out another consultation more recently with the result published in August 2008 - "Overall, 42% of businesses feel the Councils should accept the offer and 45% think they should not accept the offer. When asked the extent to which they support or oppose the offer from the Government, one half of businesses oppose and three in ten support." Whether you take the 45:42 or 50:30 result, the answer was still "No".

    A group was formed to support the toll plans - United City, though this did not pop up till June 2008, long after it was already "judged" that businesses support them.
    The authorities have also had assistance from the Chamber of Commerce who have done their best to give the impression that their members support tolls, though in July 2007 their members voted 57% to 43% against the submission of the TIF Congestion Charge plan to the Government. More recently (end of November 2008) there was another survey done by the Chamber of its members - 63 per cent were opposed "in principle" to tolls and 72 per cent were opposed to this particular scheme - Crain's - "Chamber survey: 63 per cent against congestion charging".

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Want to reduce congestion

  • They say they want to reduce congestion.

    BUT they created most of it by crippling rather than improving the roads system, and they intend to make it worse by further reducing space for cars, vans and lorries.
    Some examples of how the Greater Manchester authorities are creating congestion.

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Doing nothing is not an option

  • They say that "Doing nothing is not an option" and that tolls are the only answer to congestion.

    BUT there are 1001 other things that they can do. We want better roads and transport system. We want carrots not sticks.

    Back to start of Toll Truth

    Will save 135 lives a year

  • They say that charges will save "135 lives a year" because of reduced traffic accidents.

    BUT not only is there no evidence for this, it is impossible. There were 15 fatalities in the Manchester City Council area and a further 78 deaths in the other 9 Greater Manchester districts in 2007 according to the latest DfT statistics - "Road Casualties English Local Authority Tables: 2007" See Excel table 1.6.. Every death is a tragedy but even if every car, lorry, bus, taxi and van was removed from the roads it would not be possible to reduce deaths by 135. In fact the number of deaths might increase due to accidents involving whatever the alternative transport is, and because people might find it more difficult to get treatment in an emergency.

    In London there is a lot of monitoring of traffic accidents, but there appears to be no significant effect that can be linked to the effect of the introduction of the London "congestion charge". Transport for London's report on "Accidents and casualties on London’s roads 2003" says at para 2.1 - "Accidents in Greater London decreased by 6.1% in 2003 following decreases of 7.6% in 2002 and 2.5% in 2001. In 2003 there were 31,811 accidents in Greater London, of which 259 were fatal, 4,511 were serious and 27,041 were slight." The charge was introduced in February 2003, so the fall in accidents in the year before the charge (7.6%) was greater than the year of the charge (6.1%). The number of fatalities in Greater London in 2003 was 259, in 2002 it had been 266 (2002 report, see para 2.1.), so for whatever reason the number of deaths in the whole of Greater London reduced by 7 in the first year that there was a charge.

    As it is based on a twin cordon, one effect of the Manchester scheme will be some "rat running" where drivers go round in circles between the cordons on possibly less appropriate roads to avoid touching the inner ring. This will increase the chances of accidents. There will also be an increased number of accidents near the start and end of the tolled periods as some drivers will speed up or go slow to avoid the toll. In Singapore some traffic even stops in the middle of the road.

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    Other cities have it

  • They say that many other cities have introduced, or are considering, a charge to manage congestion.

    BUT though many places have fallen for the myths about the success of the London Con, few have gone down that "road". One of the maps that the GMPTE has to sell their scheme - "Other Cities" - shows "cities with a congestion charge" perhaps appropriately marked as red for danger. There are nine cities highlighted - London, Durham, Bergen, Stockholm, Milan, Florence, Rome, Valetta and Singapore, and in the text they also list Oslo and Santiago.

    The Durham scheme applies to one street! The Valetta scheme is time based and is more like a parking charge. The Bergen scheme has the income going towards the building of new roads. The Italian cities are mainly "Zona a Traffico Limitato" where for most hours on most days you are not allowed to drive into the historical centres unless you are a resident or have some other exemption such as buses or drivers going to their hotel in the zone - there are no "charges", only fines for breaking the ban, which mainly hits foreign drivers who don't understand the signs, (there is also a separate wider charge recently added in Milan but this is in effect a pollution charge). The Santiago system is a tolled road - the Costanera Nortere - which like the Mancunian Way cuts through the city but is much larger.

    So there are only four schemes that are similar to the one proposed for Manchester - London, Oslo, Stockholm and Singapore. It was announced on the 28th November that one half of the London scheme is to be scrapped, and the other three schemes depend on a population who are used to doing what the Government directs. There must be 10,000 other cities without a charge.

    The GMPTE also say that there are various cities in the UK "exploring proposals" for a congestion charge. Though the only one where a scheme has been put forward (Cambridge) was later effectively withdrawn. They list cities abroad who they say are "considering a charge". Missing from that list, but still on their map is New York - where the "congestion pricing" plan from the billionaire that runs the city was thrown out at State level on the 7th April 2008.

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    Need better public transport

  • They say that we need better public transport.

    AT LAST WE AGREE, BUT we do not want a new tax that will force up prices, lose jobs and divide communities. It will only benefit the tax collectors, bureaucrats, bailiffs and snoopers:-

    WINNERS - BBC 20 July 2006 - "Capita's six month profits rise".

    LOSERS - Quotes from last London Chamber of Commerce report (August 2005) -
    Sir Stuart Hampson, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership - "The congestion charge .. changes the places people shop. So businesses outside the charging zone pick up the trade from those within the zone…Small businesses are most vulnerable to such shifts, and they'll be the early victims of a wider charging zone - wiping out shops and restaurants which are valued by Londoners and which bring character to London's localities.”
    Alain Lhermitte, proprietor of ‘Mon Plaisir’, London's oldest French restaurant - “The charge is destroying the centre of London. So many people are now deciding to shop, eat out or go to the theatre in the area where they live. The charge works at a certain level but the downside is too much. If it is your little finger that is hurting do you cut off your entire arm to solve the problem?”
    Chamber - " 84% of retailers in the central charging zone reported a fall in takings during the first eighteen months of the scheme. Almost 63% reported a fall in customer numbers. 37% of retailers in the central charging zone reduced their staffing levels as a result of the congestion charge"

    We agree that we need better public transport, but the local transport bureaucracy say that we already have "one of the biggest and best public transport networks in the country" - GMPTE "Connecting People and Places" leaflet, and that "Greater Manchester has an excellent public transport system that'll take you where you want to go quickly and easily"- GMPTE "Places to go" leaflet.

    Though more money should be spent on public transport, a BIG BANG approach with the GMPTE given £2.7 billion to spend will lead to waste on a massive scale and excessive profits for various companies. This also seems to be the view of the Greater Manchester Transport Campaign - GMTC. They are the only independent group that represents users of passenger transport in Greater Manchester, and though they do not oppose the principle of charging they are not happy with the GMPTE or the TIF scheme. Here is a copy of a - letter sent to their members on 26th November 2008 (pdf).

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    cashcowPhase One

    Phase Two


    "GM Future Transport" the current official version of the plans

    The Plans - Phase One

  • Charge of £2 to cross Outer Ring (M60) inward between 7 AM and 9.30 AM on weekdays, and further £1 to cross an "Intermediate" ring inward between the same hours. Further charge of £1 to cross the "Intermediate" ring outward between 4 PM and 6.30 PM and further £1 to cross the Outer ring between the same hours.
    The above rates are for cars at ""At 2007 prices for pre-registered users" ". This means that the charges will be more than this, and for those who do not register, possibly a lot more (in London there is no "pre-registration", you pay as you go).

    They originally said that motorbikes would be charged but then said that they would not. They also said that vans and lorries etc would be charged more, but then said that, at least initially, they would not charge lorries at all. They are also exempting various vehicles including taxis.

    They say that there will be numerous discounts and exemptions, including for the low paid and the sick. Though it is difficult to see how this could ever work.

    The exact line to be followed by the two rings has changed and may change again.

  • System will be "tag and beacon". They want drivers to have a tag in their vehicle and to register with a "franchise agent". The vehicle driver would pay the agent and the driver's account would be charged as the vehicle passes the beacon. The tag would have a unique identifier which would be recognised as the driver passes through the microwave radiation emitted by the beacons.
    Though described as "tag and beacon" it seems that the device will not just identify the vehicle, it will also have a facility for putting prepaid cards in.

  • As many vehicles will for various reasons not have a working "tag", there will also be cameras that will record all number plates as they pass each beacon, so that drivers who don't pay can be pursued.

    The Plans - Phase Two

    They have not revealed what this will be, but what they want can be seen from some of the earlier versions of the scheme -

  • Charges will be on a more elaborate basis, according to distance travelled and when. It will be applied to more roads and they want to include the motorways.

  • Charging will be done using black boxes and satellites. This was originally in phase one, but was postponed for unknown reasons.

  • It is likely that there will be changes to the amount of the toll, and to the exemptions and discounts. But these changes could also be done in phase one, though there would probably be "consultation" first.

    The Plans -Maps

    There are various versions of maps showing the tolls. Earlier maps showed about 12 charge corridors going out as far as the metropolitan county boundary. These earlier maps which gave a fuller picture of the full extent of charging somehow disappeared from public view, but Chris from MART ferreted out these (they are both large pdf files)-
    Earliest published map - "Where you will pay"   Earliest published map - "Corridor Partnerships".

    Later maps replaced the corridors with two cordons, but showed grey areas for "Possible Future Charging Shemes" outside the M60. The grey areas were - Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Stockport, and the Airport.

    These maps were then replaced with maps just showing phase one, there was then a variation which has been abandoned -
    map showing three cordons.

    Latest maps (as at November 2008).

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    "Manchester Against Road Tolls" was formed early in 2007 following a meeting between the NAAT and the Association of British Drivers. There have been various protests and demonstrations with a lot of effort going into referendums for "Elected Mayors" in an effort to persuade the Council bosses to have a Ballot on the Toll question.
    The other things that MART have done include:-
    Press releases and interviews; and the MART main spokesman (Sean Corker) taking part in debates.
    Demonstrations, leafleting and collecting signatures for a petition to the Greater Manchester authorities - "Scrap the Greater Manchester Authorities Congestion Charge scheme". As well as the online petition, signatures were collected at various locations for a paper version (pdf).

    Some of the protests -

    buswythenshaweWhat do you think?

    Yellow Bus Tour 2007
    In June 2007, there was a "yellow bus tour" to try and sell the proposed charges. The sign on the side of the bus said "What do you think?" Though based on what happened at Wythenshawe on the first Saturday it seems that the authorities were not interested in the answer. The bus rolled up an hour late (very appropriate!). The small army of officials that accompanied the bus made little effort to communicate with the many people who were in the park area on a pleasant afternoon. Instead ten members of MART handed out leaflets opposing the charge and spoke to most of the people in the area. MART members went to some of the other tour stops, and the experience was similar. Virtually no one took any interest in this "consultation", and the organisers were apparently quite content to keep it that way. Was this taken as support for road tolls?

    cavalcade MART's main spokesman, Sean Corker, at the start of a cavalcade protesting about the effect of tolls on Manchester businesses.

    marketGathering "Scrap the Toll" petition signatures in Market Street, Manchester.
    traffordCollecting signatures for the petition at the Trafford Centre.

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    dukinfield Some of the protestors at Dukinfield in July 2007 when the majority of Council Leaders agreed that the TIF plans (which they had not seen) should be submitted to the Government.

    Prior to the TIF submission, in June and early July 2007 there was a consultation exercise carried out by the authorities.

    The main part of this "consultation" was a leaflet that was delivered to all housheolds in Greater Manchester - the "Our Future Transport" Leaflet without the images (pdf file), we have added our comments in red to what was on the leaflet.
    This was some of the reaction when it was discovered that the case studies used in the leaflet were fake - Manchester Evening News - "C-charge 'locals' don't exist"   Daily Mail - "Council accused of faking C-charge evidence by using American case studies".

    The authorities while selling congestion charging also carried out opinion surveys, some of them at "facilitated events" where after the sales pitch, people and businesses were asked for their views. Here are some of the available documents - Report to AGMA 27 July 2007 - "TIF Acceptability Research"   Powerpoint presentation (you need Powerpoint Viewer to read this file)   Full script of what 5,000 people were asked (pdf file)   Full script of what 1,000 busineses were asked (pdf file).
    This explains how people are manipulated to increase the chances of the authorities getting the answers that they want -
    Full script of what people were asked, but annotated with our views (pdf file).

    In July 2007, the Allan Beswick phone-in programme on BBC Radio Manchester came up with with various points on the survey including-
    One person said that she had been contacted while eating at teatime and in any case she had no car. She told them "Don't know". How was all this recorded?
    Another person said she felt misled into giving the wrong answer due to the phrasing of the question.
    Another caller wondered if they would block off side roads to stop anyone from trying to avoid the charge (as near the Bridge work in Stockport at that time) with the excuse of not overloading smaller roads. Also would they create more bus lanes and introduce other "traffic management measures" so that even reduced traffic would still create Congestion.
    One caller said that workers/businesses may move out of Manchester to towns that advertise themselves as car friendly and toll tax free.
    The obvious point was made that the plan was to tax 'poor' people off the roads for the benefit of people with more money.

  • Some other soundings of opinion -

    - BBC Poll - (Congestion question is on the right of the page). Out of 2,000 votes, 86% thought that a "congestion charge was NOT a price worth paying".

    - National Centre for e-Social Science at the University of Manchester - interactive map of North West. This is claimed to be continuously updated, but as at the end of November 2008, the centre of Manchester was coloured Green showing that most people thought that they were not affected. Two areas (parts of Trafford and Stockport) are coloured pale blue showing that most people would stop driving and use some other means of travel. The rest of Greater Manchester and most of the rest of the North West is coloured dark blue showing that most people would "work or shop elsewhere".

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    POSTERS etc

    If you can help with distribution then please contact us.

    Nearly all of the latest posters and leaflets etc have been produced by the Greater Manchester Momentum Group.
    Last year's Manchester Toll Tax "Banners" were sponsored through Association of British Drivers.

    Below are some of the older posters which were produced by MART -
  • Pdf files - From Gareth, Graphic Quarter colour 1 A4   From Gareth, Graphic Quarter colour 1 A3   From Gareth, Graphic Quarter colour 2 A4   From Gareth, Graphic Quarter colour 2 A3   From Gareth, Graphic Quarter mono A4   From Gareth, Graphic Quarter mono A3.

  • Jpg files (Click on link, then if you like the picture, right click on the picture and chose "save image as") - From Rob / Kevin 1 A4   From Rob / Kevin 2 A4.

  • leaflet
  • This is an A4 pdf leaflet intended to be printed both sides.
  • This is only the back of the A4 pdf leaflet so you can use it with one of the other fronts
  • This is a version of the leaflet better for printing as A5.

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  • The Transport Innovation Fund has two pots - "Productivity" and "Congestion" charge.
    For the 2005 "Congestion charge" allocation, 33 authorities applied and on 29 November 2005, seven "winners" were announced. Greater Manchester was given £1.25 million. Here is the submission (as pdf files)- Main part of bid   Annex   Timeline

    For the 2006 allocation, 21 authorities applied and on 6 November 2006, the nine "winners" were announced. This time Greater Manchester got £1.95 million. Here is the submission (as a Word document) - Greater Manchester

    In January 2008, the DfT must have found that it had some spare cash as it gave extra TIF money to three authorities including Manchester who got £1.5 million. There was no press release, but it was in - MEN - "C-charge: £1.5m boost for bid"

  • There are 5 stages to the TIF process between "Pump priming" and "Full approval" of the scheme - DfT - Annex 5 – Congestion TIF Stages. Following the Government approval on 9th June 2008, Greater Manchester is now in the third stage - "Programme Entry".

  • When the Government announced that Manchester's scheme could move to stage three, they also agreed to give £20 million towards the £34 million that Manchester was to spend in 2008/09 on the further "development costs" of the scheme. The Government is also funding part of the advertising to persuade people to vote for road tolls, but this may already be in the £20 million.

  • From evidence given to the Transport Committee on 23 May 2007, it seems that up to the point of the TIF submission in August 2007, the authorities expected to spend £10 million partly financed by the £3.2 million from the Government. Between then and the end of March 2008, out guess would be that they spent another £4 million partly financed by the £1.5 million from the Government. Of the £34 million to be spent in 2008/09 our guess is that as at December 2008 they will have spent £25 million, giving total spending to that point of about £40 million.

  • DfT - main Transport Innovation Fund page.

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    "YES" (all from You Tube)- Clean Air Now - "Let Me Breathe"   We vote "Yes" - "Picadilly Big Freeze"   ?? - "VOTE YES ON 11TH DECEMBER 2008"   GMPTE - "GMPTE congestion charge television infomercial"   GMPTE - "21st Century Transport"   Oldham Council - "Use Your Vote!"   Clean Air Now - "Squirrel Attack".

    BBC There are so many that you can pick from this list.

    Other news channels - Channel M - MEN - "One man's C-charge campaign"   Channel M - MEN - "One-chicken C-charge protest"   Channel M - South Manchester Reporter debate on 13th November   You Tube - Granada News - "Manchester Against Road Tax"   You Tube - 2210 Channel - "Highway Robbery!".

    "NO" (all from You Tube)- GMMG - "Stop the Manchester Congestion Charge Shark in the gym!"   GMMG - "Manchester City Tower video - Stop The Charge"   GMMG - "Airport".

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    protest Councillors- When contacting councillors and council leaders, PLEASE be polite. If they support "congestion charging" then don't attack them, instead ask them why they support road charging and give some reasons why you are against it.
    Bolton   Bury   Manchester   Oldham   Rochdale   Salford   Stockport   Tameside   Trafford   Wigan.

    Council Leaders - Again PLEASE be polite. Bear in mind that at the end of July 2007, the leaders of Stockport and Trafford Councils voted against the TIF congestion charge bid. All the other councils voted for it, though Bury later changed their position.
    Bolton - Cliff Morris   Bury - Bob Bibby   Manchester - Sir Richard Leese   Oldham - Howard Sykes   Rochdale - Alan Taylor   Salford - John Merry   Stockport - Dave Goddard   Tameside - Roy Oldham   Trafford - Susan Williams   Wigan - Lord Peter Smith.

    (Picture is Maria Fuller protesting at Manchester Town Hall on 2 July 2008.)
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  • "" is the main MART site.
  • Stop! the Charge
  • Greater Manchester Momentum Group
  • Tameside group of MART
    Association of British Drivers - Manchester Congestion charge page
  • "GM Congestion charge" We don't agree with some of the content or any of the advertising on this site, but have included it to be comprehensive.

    FOR ROAD TOLL PLANS:- With so many official organisations, it is difficult to find out what is going on. It is not clear where the money that funds the unofficial organisations comes from -
  • "GM Future Transport" the official site selling the Charge plans
  • "We Vote Yes" Website which only started in October 2008 but now seems to be the main unofficial one. It says that the group "represents trade unions, environmental groups, businesses, students, local authorities and voluntary groups across Greater Manchester".
  • "Clean Air Now" Website which started mid July 2007.
  • "United City" Website which started about a week before the Government announcement in June 2008. Appears to be businesses and quangos encouraged by the Council bosses.
  • Department for Transport - Transport Innovation Fund.
  • AGMA The organisation that represents the 10 councils in the Greater Manchester area.
  • GMPTE The organisation which though unelected has probably been the main one behind the charge plans.
  • GMPTA The organisation which is supposed to control what the GMPTE does.

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