National Alliance Against Tolls - Manchester Congestion Charge - 2008 News

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Monday 29 December 2008
  • "New job for c-charge PR" - MEN. If after trying to sell tolls there is a £75,000 job, what would it have been if the campaign had suceeded?

    Wednesday 24 December 2008
  • Bit more after AGMA meeting - Bury Times - "End of the road for C-charge". Councillor Bibby says that "We’ve always been against congestion charging". So it must have been some other Council called Bury that voted to submit the TIF Bid!

    Tuesday 23 December 2008
  • Letter to Tom from Jake - Buxton Advertiser - "Aren't we free to say 'No'?". (Though Tom Levitt is not a Greater Manchester MP, he was a keen defender of the charge.)

  • Still in denial - Crain's - "Failed TIF bid cost AGMA more than £20m". As we have previously reported the £20 million spending reported to AGMA is only what was spent since April 2008. It seems that in any case most of the AGMA leaders are still living in a fantasy world, they spent millions on a one sided campaign abetted by misleading adverts from the "Yes" campaign (which the ASA could not look at) and then they complain when the ASA ban their propaganda from TV!

    Saturday 20 December 2008
  • Plan B takes shape - MEN - "Move to salvage transport cash".

    Friday 19 December 2008
  • Burying the corpse - AGMA met this morning to discuss last Friday's vote, and decided to abandon their toll plans. It is rumoured that for a gallant attempt to put Manchester back to the days of medieval tolls, the Queen will now make all Knights into Lords, and the existing Lord is to become a Duke. It is also rumoured that if the scheme ever resurfaces, Lords are to be added to the previous list of 1,001 categories that won't have to pay - Bolton News - "The final 'No' to congestion charge"   Bolton News - "Road charging: Councils vote 'No'".

  • Bit more reaction to Friday's vote - Lancashire Telegraph - "The congestion charge plan got stuck in traffic"   Property Week - "‘No plan B’ after Manchester rejects congestion charge".

    Thursday 18 December 2008
  • More reaction to Friday's vote - Local Government Chronicle - "Manchester No vote prompts call for bus re-regulation"  Bury Times - "What the people say about C-charge vote"   Salford Advertiser - "Salford gives C-charge the biggest 'No'"   Trafford Messenger - "Trafford says no to charge"   Prestwich & Whitefield Guide - "C-charge is driven out"   South Manchester Reporter - "MP urges Brown to hand over £3 billion of transport funds"   Middleton Guardian - "A great big thumbs down".

  • "I just can't stop writing about the C-thing. Sorry." - John Jeffay Blog

  • Life after TIF - Middleton Guardian - "So there IS a Plan B after all . . ."   Oldham Advertiser - "NO: A small word that has big implications for Oldham – but the fight for trams goes on"   Oldham Advertiser - "There has to be a Plan B for trams".

  • A new world? - David Ottewell reports the Chamber of Commerce as saying - "The results of last week's referendum echoed the strong opposition from businesses to the congestion charging element of the plans" - Blog in MEN - "The sound of silence". Before last Friday, the Chamber was one of the cheer leaders backing Lord Smith and his knights and trying to sell toll plans to businesses. Is history to be rewritten? Will the MEN soon be telling us that the paper was impartial?

    Tuesday 16 December 2008
  • "Result" of the official opinion surveys - AGMA meets on Friday and are due to "note" a report on the results of the "Transport Innovation Fund Proposals (TIF) Consultation" AGMA - Item 8i (if clicking on "View" does not work, then click on "Save" and then on "Open"

    The report includes (page 8) "Overall opinion on the TIF package - The balance of opinion on whether or not respondents thought the Councils should accept this offer from the Government differed across the two audiences. Residents were more likely to believe the councils should accept this offer (53%) than not (40%).Businesses, on the other hand, were more likely to believe the offer should not be accepted (45%) than accepted (42%).
    Turning to the respondent’s own level of support or opposition to the offer from the Government, again a different pattern of responses emerged from these two audiences. Residents were very marginally more likely to support (41%) than oppose (39%) this offer from the Government, in contrast to business respondents who were more likely to oppose (50%) than support (30%).."

    The above reads like gobbledegook, partly because it is based on two slightly different questions that were put to people, the first (Question 7a) was "Do you think the Councils should accept this offer from the Government, or not?". They were also asked (Question 7b) was "To what extent do you support or oppose this offer from the Government?". For some unknown reason there was a less positive response to the second question.

    The questions were asked in the period 14th July to 1st August 2008. The real vote was of course 4 months later, and gave a VERY different result to the answers to both the survey questions. This seems to prove that any surveys carried out for those who are behind such schemes are worthless. The next time that the Government aim to con the people, they could save some money by stopping such surveys, as no one will believe what they say.

    Monday 15 December 2008
  • A second American report - This time from the Greens, who say that people are too selfish, though they say people might have voted "Yes" if the plans had not been "widely misrepresented by the opposition" - Red, Green and Blue - "Will The Majoriy Vote For The Environment? Probably not.".

  • What they said - The main "Yes" campaign and United City have not said anything about the result on their website. This is what our "foe" CAN said - "Clean Air Now regrets lost opportunities for Greater Manchester", and this is - now on the Future Transport homepage, with Lord Peter Smith repeating some of the "Yes" claims though he appears to have been told not to repeat "the people of Greater Manchester have voted "No" to improvements to public transport".

  • Another view of the count - Local Government Chronicle - "Congestion charge - no!".

  • Don't let them vote again - Liverpool Daily Post - "JIM HANCOCK: One vote, one time". Has this been written by the BBC's political editor for North West Tonight?

  • Post mortem - David Ottewell Blog -"C-charge: picking over the bones"   MEN -"Blears calls for C-charge 'reflection'". David has ten points in his blog. Here is another- How could the establishment with its control over the media and the support of the Editor of the biggest newspaper lose its grip on the helots?

  • Why not go ahead with transport improvements anyway? - From John Jeffay Blog - "Congestion charge: A hollow victory ". How's about ten out of ten paying for improved transport rather than the one in ten who are least likely to ue it?

  • Wailing from the Greens - Green Party - "Manchester Greens dismayed by 'no' vote on congestion charge"   FOE - "Manchester rejects green transport revolution". It is only in Britain that Greens are also Trolls.

  • .. and from the Hauliers (or is it just one man?) - FTA - "No vote is bad news for reliable deliveries in Manchester".

    Sunday 14 December 2008
  • Mirror broken - The Yes campaign made the claim the the President-elect and his team were closely watching what was happening in Manchester so that they could copy it in America. Despite this not a single American paper has reported the Manchester result, though there is this in which is "A journal of the politics of driving" - "UK: Congestion Pricing Referendum Loses 4-1".

  • The Sunday Times in a twist - The paper is torn between toll evangelising and Labour Party bashing - "Briefing: Congestion charging: Toll tax rebellion"   "Leader: A transport policy running on empty".

    Saturday 13 December 2008
  • How much was wasted? - MEN - "Failed bid cost £20m". This seems to be as accurate as most of what has been said by the authorities and repeated in the paper. This £20 million is part of the £34 million that the authorities were to spend in the current year. It ignores the spending before April 2008 which we estimate was another £14 million - TIF on our Manchester page.

  • Councillor Martian Carnivore reveals "Plan B" -
    The Spoof - "Greater Manchester Says NO to Con Charge". You have been warned!

  • More reports - Local -
    MEN - "Four to one, a resounding majority"   Lancashire Evening Post - "County leaders welcome C-charge 'no'"   Wigan Evening Post - "Calls for council leader to resign"   MEN - "Death-knell for road charging?"   MEN - "Town hall bosses 'not surprised'".

  • More reports - National -
    Sun - "End of the con in Manchester"   Independent - "Leading article: The meaning of Manchester's No"   Daily Express - "VOTERS THROW OUT PLANS FOR BIGGEST CONGESTION CHARGE"   Independent - "Manchester gives congestion charge a huge thumbs down"   BBC - "Drivers reject C-charge 'carrot'"   Times - "Road pricing is stalled as Manchester overwhelmingly says ‘no’"   Telegraph - "Road pricing trials continue despite Manchester rejection".

    Friday 12 December 2008
  • Some of today's reports - Local - This does not include todays' reports before the result was announced -
    Crain's - "Congestion charge plans thrown out"   Bolton News - "Congestion charge vote: So what happens next?"   Rochdale Observer - "IT'S A BIG 'NO'"   Crain's - "Greater Manchester rejects congestion charge"   Mancunian Way Blog - "#Tif There's no doubt it's a NO!"   David Ottewell Blog - "TIF result: landslide 'no'"   Middleton Guardian - "City residents react to 'no' vote"   BBC Manchester - "City residents react to 'no' vote" (with some puzzling related internet links)
    South Manchester Reporter - "We still want improvements"   BBC Manchester - "Drama lacking in road charge vote"   BBC Manchester - "Drama lacking in road charge vote"   Bolton News - "Congestion charge vote: So what happens next?"   Rochdale Observer - "C-charge results: What the people think"
    MEN - "Firms split over c-charge vote"   MEN - "C-charge: Reaction on the streets"   Rochdale Online - "One big 'NO' from every borough"   Rochdale Online - "One big 'NO' from every borough"
    Tameside Advertiser - "It's a big 'no'"  BBC - "Voters reject congestion charge"   Middleton Guardian - "It's a big NO"   Bury Times - "NO to Congestion charge plan"   Bury Times - "NO to Congestion charge plan"   Manchester Confidential - "Manchester Congestion Charge results are in: It's a NO!".

  • Some of today's reports - National - This does not include todays' reports before the result was announced -
    Channel Four - "'No' to Manchester charge zone" inc video   Local Government Chronicle - "DfT to go ahead with road-pricing trials regardless of Manchester vote"   Building - "Manchester votes 'no' to congestion charge"   Telegraph - "Road pricing in tatters as Manchester rejects congestion charge"   FT - "Manchester votes against congestion charge"   Guardian Blog - "Why Manchester said no to congestion charge" (from a yes supporter)   Local Government Chronicle - "Manchester votes ‘no’ to a congestion charge"
    Telegraph - "Back to the drawing board for road pricing"   Times - "Road pricing plans face the axe after Manchester rejects congestion scheme"   Lib Dems (still living in a fantasy) - "Baker: Manchester voters reject Government’s centralised transport approach"   Lib Dems - "Baker: Manchester voters reject Government’s centralised transport approach"   Independent - "National road pricing scheme in doubt"
    Guardian - "Manchester says no to congestion charging"   Independent - "Resounding 'No' for Manchester C-charge"   Sky - "Voters Say No: C-Charge Seen Off"   Public Servant Online - "No to Manchester congestion charge".

  • A few reports from before the result - MEN - "C-charge result imminent"   BBC - "Votes counted after C-charge poll"   Buxton Advertiser - "Congestion charge is 'gift horse' for Peak".

  • D Day - Victory? YES - The tolls plan was decisively rejected by all ten districts with 78.8% (813,000 out of 1,033,000 exc rejected paers) voting No.
    Three of us from MART were at the announcement which was made about 12.30. There were hundreds of other people there, but very few of the people who had campaigned on either side. It was mainly politicians from both sides of the debate, and all of the media interest was on the politicians. Lord Smith who together with the two Manchester knights and Roger Jones seems to have been the one behind this ill conceived tolls crusade gave the official reaction on behalf of AGMA. He said that the people had voted against Transport improvements. What a load of rubbish.
    official results.

  • D Day - Victory?   This was written early in the morning so we don't know the result which is due out soon after noon, but this search will give all the latest news from Google. Being optimistic we issued this press release (pdf file)   (as Word file)   (as plain text file) before the result was known.
    If in fact we have lost there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, particularly from those who were misled and voted "Yes"!

    Thursday 11 December 2008
  • On the box - From North West News last night - BBC - "Thousands cast C-charge vote" video   BBC - "Last chance for C-charge voting". The Video clip includes Sean from MART and Lis from Yes campaign. Lis promises all voters "lower fares". Is she paying? Because the councils and the Government are not. This claim now seems to be what the Yes campaign are relying on to swing the vote.

  • "Yes, I voted. No. I didn’t vote Yes." - South Manchester Reporter - "Chewing it over".

  • Council wanted ad removed - Bolton News - "Tory is warned again over No vote posters".
    Perhaps there should have been a ban on all ads - particularly the official ones!

  • In the Telegraph - Like the Times a paper for the trolls, though after the Peter Roberts petition started two years ago, it decided that it was not in favour of tolls on all roads - "Future of road pricing hangs in the balance as Manchester votes on congestion charging"   "Manchester congestion charge - Why I am voting yes" (Lis Phelan)   "Manchester congestion charge - Why people should vote NO" (Peter Roberts).

  • Property developers still pushing tolls - Even as late as today a property site is saying that house prices will rise if the scheme goes ahead. Presumably the houses that they will demolish to make way for the toll gantries! (Joke.)

  • Toll puzzle - Bury Times - "Decision day for C-charge". The puzzle is that if the overall decison is "Yes", but the voters in a particular district have said "No", will the Leader of that Council go by what the voters in his own district decide or not?

  • Last chance - Papers can still be handed in today but the news media have made little effort to tell their listeners and viewers what the arrangements are. Though there is this on the MEN - "Last chance for C-charge say" and this on the BBC web site if you search - "TIF vote: your last chance"

  • Bolton First - alphabetically! - This is Lancashire - "Bolton road toll vote results are expected first".
    The report says - "The anti-charge lobby says the low turnout proves that people are hostile to the charge and suspicious of the promised investment". That is not our view. A relatively low vote will because people are confused with all the propaganda, and because many do not trust the politicians and think (in our view wrongly) that a "No" vote will be ignored.

  • Times report - The paper normally supports tolls including toll lanes on motorways, "congestion charging" et al, but this is a piece free from comments - "Road pricing is at the mercy of Manchester's voters"
    There is also a brief report in FT - "Barely half vote on congestion charge"

  • Socialist view - World Socialist Web - "Britain: Labour seeks draconian congestion charge for Greater Manchester"

    Wednesday 10 December 2008
  • "Late" ballot papers and voting - We have received calls saying that people only got their ballot papers a few days ago or have not had them at all. For the moment we don't believe that this has been a widespread problem, and of course many people will not have a ballot paper as they are not on the Register, this will mainly be people who normally do not vote at all, but wanted to vote in this poll. For those who have not yet voted, there is some guidance on the Returning Officer's site - "Frequently Asked Questions". That indicated that papers being returned tomorrow (Thursday 11th) can be handed in at various centres, but according to the returning officer there is also an arrangement where any papers can be posted by last post tomorrow (time will vary between pillar boxes) and should then be specially sorted and included in the count.

  • Latest turnout figures - The Returning Officer has released a new set of figures as of this morning. The turnout so far is 46.7%. We were predicting a final turnout of 52%, but it now looks as if it will be higher.
    You can see these and previous figures - here

  • Stockport views - from Crain's - "C-charge will deter teachers, Stockport councillor says"   "Two in three Stockport firms oppose congestion charge, survey says".
    The Stockport papers as usual have more anti-toll views, including this from a councillor in the Stockport Times East, who points out that traffic flows are already down and that - "the present economy is bad enough". He also says that if the toll comes in "every man and his dog will look for ways to avoid the charge ... they will arrive in their droves ... result - utter chaos and total gridlock in the suburbs".
    PS from About My Area - "Stockport Businesses say 'No'".

  • More of the usual - Rochdale Observer - "Time running out to have say on charge".
    Superficially this is just another report on voting progress. But it includes a claim that "thousands of lives could be saved" if people vote "Yes". How low can the "Yes" side sink?
    As with nearly all of these online stories, the web page includes (during the campaign period), a major advert from the "Yes" side which says "I want cheaper bus fares - That's why I'm voting Yes". This is misleading. There was nothing in the original TIF submission about fares and it is unclear how this would be paid for. In any case it is not cheaper bus fares for all, it is according to the official site 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." If this ever came to pass, there would be few people that would get lower fares and it would not apply to all their journeys. These adverts are just another Con trick from the Con charge supporters.

  • Bruiser joins battle - MEN - "Prescott joins C-charge debate". They must be getting desperate. Who will they dig up next?
    Those MPs who have told the MEN how they voted have supported road tolls by 10 to 4. We will soon see how representative of their constituents these people are.
    By coincidence, the FT publishes a letter suggesting that voters should ignore MPs - the ones who are voting "No" that is - "No to MPs - Yes to Manchester charge". Can this train passenger be the same man who is a big "wheel" in the Manchester cycling establishment? If so, then has he lost his bike?

  • Some letters in the Guardian - "Revving up for Manchester vote". The letter from the Doctor says that "The residents of Greater Manchester must oppose this bullying and vote yes" We wonder how the Doctor defines "bullying"? If there had really been any then no doubt that would have been splashed all over the Guardian / MEN group papers.

  • More views - Crain's - "Cast UK joins campaign against TIF package". It seems a bit late to join in either side. As for the comments from "MIDAS, Manchester's inward investment agency" see "Yes" yesterday.

    Tuesday 9 December 2008
  • "Yes" - Ottewell Blog in the MEN - "Colin Sinclair: vote 'yes'". Are the MEN keyboards missing two letters "n" and "o"?
    MIDAS seems to be partly financed by the North West Development Agency - in other words the Government. The MIDAS board as well as including four Labour councillors and various businesses that have been in the press in recent months pushing tolls, also includes the boss of Granada and the Editor of the MEN. Surely this story should have been on the front page not buried in a Blog!

  • Union joins Bosses organisation - Crain's "Public sector union comes out in favour of congestion charge".
    This is the union that recently in Manchester Confidential accused the "No" campaigners of - "Lie, smear, scare" (with lots of comments), it is not surprising that they have now joined the businesses that were persuaded to back the tolls plan.

  • Views on turnout in MEN - "C-charge: Use your vote NOW"   David Ottewell Blog - "Turnout, washout"   John Jeffay Blog - "Congestion charge: NO EXCUSE for not voting".
    The paper seems puzzled why more people have not voted. Perhaps the Editor will also be puzzled if the vote is "No" despite all the efforts of the Manchester establishment and the paper, which is relected in today's story which quotes three groups ("Lis Phelan, chairwoman of the `yes' campaign", "Manchester Unison, the public-sector union with 11,000 members city-wide" and "Jan Hutchinson, the chair of the Directors of Public Health Group in Greater Manchester") while all there is from the other side is an anonymous "spokeswoman for the 'no' campaign".
    There are various possible reasons for a low turnout. An obvious one is that people are saturated with the subject and have turned off or tuned out the advertising and news coverage. In Edinburgh there wasn't the massive advertising from the "Yes" and "No" groups, and though there was far more coverage in the news media (and there was even a Public Inquiry, which the authorities in Manchester have avoided), the news coverage was concentrated into a shorter period.
    Another reason, which many people gave to us, was that "It doesn't matter how I vote, the authorities will go ahead anyway". In this particular case, even though this is only a sham "referendum", it is unlikely that the authorities will ignore the result, but many people have still thought otherwise.
    Possibly the biggest reason is that people have been confused. They have been misled by the authorities and the "Yes" campaign, and a large part of the news media have made no attempt to reveal that most of the claims conflict with the evidence that is available. So many people will not bother to vote, and of those that do, many will have been misled into voting the wrong way.
    PS BBC - "Transport voting turnout at 38%"   Rochdale Online - "Over half of Rochdale fail to vote in transport referendum   Wigan Evening Post - "Road charge snub by voters"   Manchester Confidential - "Vote you f******s!"

    Monday 8 December 2008
  • Voting mystery no more - We had great difficulty getting hold of the turnout figures that were supposed to be available on Friday and today. Friday's (as at Thursday night) figures were not confirmed on the Returning Officer's website till part way through today. And "today's" figures were not available till this evening. The turn out is now up to 38.2%. Our "prediction" is still that the final turnout will be about 52%. The figures and our prediction for final turnout

  • David gets the bus - Just what the editor ordered as practice for the Shape of Things to Come - Ottewell Blog in the MEN - "TIF, buses, Arthur Folwer and me". Unfortunately David does not reveal who exactly is going to pay for all these extra bus services or how miraculously all his frustrations including "the precocious chatter of a young boy at the front of the bus" will be removed by TIF - which is capital spending. Are these extra sevices to come from more tolls, and will it also cover complimentary ear plugs?

  • Odds - Over the last week, the odds have moved slightly further towards a "No" vote. Ladbroke's are now offering 7/4 "Yes" and 2/5 "No".

  • Edinburgh tips - Edinburgh Evening News - "Road tolls campaigners pass on tips". Tina was one of the leading campaigners aginst the Edinburgh Toll, but the Chamber of Commerce mainly buried their head in the sand. It seems that the Edinburgh paper has been reading the recent story in the Manchester Evening News who also referred to the phantom part that the Chamber played.

  • "Yes" campaign to hood-wink public transport users while the Manchester news media turn a blind eye - One exception to the ostriches - Rochdale Online - "'Yes' campaign accused of misleading voters"). Part of the "ebulletin" sent out by "Yes" side on Friday (pdf) which says that there will be lower bus and train fares.

  • "Mancunians are right to be cynical" - Letter from four MPs FT.

    Sunday 7 December 2008
  • Voting figures "out", Rerun of story - MEN - "C-charge vote warning".

  • Voting figures "disappointing " - BBC - "Call for voters in transport poll".

    Saturday 6 December 2008
  • "Dear Labour Party Member(s)" - Letter sent out to party members and signed by 11 MPs - Hazel Blears, Andy Burnham, David Chaytor, Paul Goggins, Beverley Hughes, Brian Iddon, Ruth Kelly, Tony Lloyd, James Purnell, Ian Stewart and Neil Turner.
    Despite what we assume was some arm twisting these 13 did not sign for whatever reason - Graham Brady, Anne Coffey, Jim Dobbin, Andrew Gwynne, David Heyes, Gerald Kaufman, Barbara Keeley, Ivan Lewis, Ian McCartney, Michael Meacher, Lucy Powell, Graham Stringer, Philip Woolas.
    With 24 or so Labour MPs, it makes you wonder why the Government are so keen to bring road tolls to Manchester - a death wish?

  • Voting figures "out" - Though the latest voting figures (as at Thursday night) have not been posted on the site of the Returning Officer, David Ottewell has got them on his Blog - "Referendum turnout: returning officer statement" inc link to "turnout figures". The figures and our prediction for final turnout. If only we could predict the split between "Yes" and "No"!
    In Edinburgh Toll Poll of February 2005 the turnout was 61.8%. We had expected something similar for Manchester but are now predicting only about 52%. It may be that the voters have been put off and confused by the disinformation campaign from those behind this scheme.

    Friday 5 December 2008
  • Voting figures "out" - The latest voting figures should have been released today by the Returning Officer, but as at 19.45 they have not been posted on the site, though Rochdale Online have the Rochdale figures - "Latest TIF referendum voting figures". It may be that there is a glitch on the Returning Officer's website, or is there another reason?

  • Call for Bolton people to vote - Bolton News - "Rally call on road charge vote".

  • Oldham says "clear off" - Campaigners distributing "No" leaflets last night at Oldham's shopping centre where chased away by staff who apparently work for the Council. Would they have chased "Yes" campaigners away?

  • Report on Bury debate - Bury Times - "It's close but debate goes on". The vote should not be close, it should be an emphatic "No". If it isn't it will be because people have been misled and think that tolls won't affect them, they will get cheaper fares and that all the promised transport and road schemes will materialise.

  • "Why Edinburgh said No to C-charge" - MEN. Remarkably for the MEN this is a relatively balanced account of what happened. Though it avoids the word that everyone in Edinburgh used - "toll". It also does not show how bitter the Toll Poll was and how most people thought the same as in Manchester - it was the Council that had created the congestion and was then trying to force a toll through with biased propaganda (though in Edinburgh, unlike Manchester, they did not have the main local paper collaborating with them). Neither does the story mention that the toll that was rejected was a maximum of £2 compared with Manchester's £5. For more on this - our Edinburgh page.

  • A curious noise in the night - Crain's - "Freight Transport Association and Yes Campaign agree to work together". Curious that Crain's should publish what seems to be a non story, as the real story is how someone at the FTA was persuaded to agree to this statement. The FTA policy generally is that they don't mind car drivers being forced out of the way of big lorries, but they are opposed to the Manchester Con, as can be seen from their last two press releases on this 4th November - "Trafford Park own goal temporarily averted"   13th October - "Congestion charge could damage region's economic future, says FTA".

  • Reds boss criticises Reds boss - MEN - "Salford chief blasts Fergie".

    Thursday 4 December 2008
  • Ghost from Edinburgh - The MEN must be getting desperate as they have dug up the man who was regarded as the mastermind behind Edinburgh's anti roads user policies which culminated in the failed attempt to bring in a toll - David Ottewell Blog - "C-charge: Professor David Begg". Should we be getting out the sprigs of garlic and the pointed stakes?

  • A Question of Democracy - Rochdale Online - "Campaigners say TIF bid undermines democracy".

  • Snow job in MEN - Today's editorial is "Charge would have cleared the way". It includes ".. If ever there was an indication of the value there is in unlocking billions of pounds worth of investment in public transport through the introduction of a congestion charge, then the frustrating scenes of yesterday must surely be it".
    As the Government takes one billion pounds EVERY week from drivers, one wonders why the Manchester authorities can not cope with a snow fall that was forecast? To the extent that they can't cope or don't bother to try, that will also affect buses, and even trains and trams can be affected by "icy points" and "leaves on the line". In any case the toll advocates say that we need tolls to save the planet from "Global warming", so why is it snowing?

  • Views in Tameside Advertiser - "C-charge: the big debate". There are "Related links" on the right hand side to separate pages with the views of various people, including Rob Hardman from MART.
    One of the views is from David Heyes MP who says "We need to invest in our public transport. London is doing it and much of their spending is paid for by a congestion charge." Transport for London in the year to March 2008 had income of over £3 billion largely from Tube and bus fares. It also had £3.9 billion as "Transport Revenue Grant". The "profit" from the Congestion charge was £137 million - that's less than 2% of what they spend - and is based on a standard £8 charge and penal fines and it does not include the cost of setting up the scheme.
    The Council Leader's page appears to tempt drivers with the carrot of a Longdendale Bypass, but as Rob Hardman points out at Tameside branch of MART, there is NO mention of this scheme in the TIF plans.

  • "No" poll from the "No" side - Middleton Guardian - "Second poll predicts Middleton 'no' vote".

  • Kelvin gives "10 reasons to scrap CONgestion charge" - Sun. Let's hope that this does not persuade people to vote "Yes"!!

  • Stockport United (almost) - If there is one area where there should be a "No" vote it is Stockport. The Lib Dem Leader of the Council has consistently opposed the toll plans, and every week in the local papers, councillors from all parties have been voicing their opposition. Here is a flavour from last Wednesday's Stockport Express - Labour - "Proposal is not fair"   Tory - "Stockport residents receive little for this hidden tax.".
    The "Yes" campaign were asked to give the views of one of their supporters. This came from someone who travels to work by train and said that "A yes vote in the postal referendum will deliver extra seats on my train". The Yes campaign seems to be all about more trains etc and ignores the people who will be forced to pay for all of these extra seats etc.

  • Reaction to yesterday's FT story - "21st century could be put on hold" - "I'll be voting No to Manchester's congestion charge".

    Wednesday 3 December 2008
  • MP from Warrington "urging people to contact friends and family living in Greater Manchester to vote no" - Warrington Guardian - "Vote 'no' to road charges".

  • "C-Day is coming" - The Council Leader says why to vote "Yes" and Sean Corker from MART says why to vote "No" in the Oldham Advertiser.
    Oldham Council still has the Sixth Form College video on its site with the not very subtle message to vote "Yes" together with various "awareness raising material" obviously geared to getting a "Yes" vote. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the Oldham vote compared with other boroughs.

  • Manchester's Hanging Shard? - As happened with Edinburgh Toll Poll in February 2005, various people have commented that there may be a lot of "spoilt" papers because of the complicated way that ballot papers are completed. We assume that it will be impartial as to how votes are treated that are clearly "Yes" or "No" but have not followed the rules. But if the vote is close, there may well be comments about Florida in November 2000. The voting instructions -
    1. Read the leaflet enclosed with your ballot paper which provides details of the Greater Manchester transport proposals.
    2. Vote by marking a cross (X) in the YES or NO box on the ballot paper. Voe only oncand put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.
    3. Mark your vote clearly and in secret. If you need help or there is something you do not understand, contact the Returning Officer's helpline on 0800 783 9828.
    4. Sign the declaration attached to the ballot paper - you must sign the declaration for your vote to be counted.
    5. Separate the ballot paper and the declaration along the perforation.
    6. Place your completed ballot paper in the brown envelope marked A - make sure that the barcode and the number on the back of the ballot paper show through the window on the brown envelope. Seal the brown envelope.
    7. Place the sealed brown ballot paper envelope and your completed declaration inside the white envelope marked B.
    8. Seal the white envelope marked B and return it in the post. Remember for your vote to count it must reach the Returning Officer by 10pm on Thursday 11 December 2008.
  • BMW say "No" - Rochdale Online - "Williams BMW urges No vote on c-charge". Though BMW owners may be among those who won't be too worried if they have a toll bill of £1,200 or more!

  • The missing Poll - Anyone else noticed that the MEN does not appear to have had a poll done of voter's intentions. Or is that they have done one, but they don't want to publish it as the "Yes" campign would give up?

  • "Confidential" Poll - Manchester Confidential - "Which way are you going to vote on the BIG ISSUE for Manchester this year, and perhaps for many years?". The poll so far is about even, which probably reflects who looks at MC rather than the real poll result.

  • Trafford Council cleared - BBC - "Council C-charge adverts cleared". Wow, the establishment must be losing control of their puppets.

  • The odds - Crain's - "Ladbrokes: It's odds on a defeat for congestion charging". Betting odds reflect the weight of bets, and do not show real chances. A better, though not infallible guide, is how the odds change over the next week.

  • New York - MEN - "How does NY handle congestion". It is not clear what the motive is of the MEN reminding its readers about New York. Are they so out of touch that they not realise that New York state reps had thrown out the Mayor's "congestion pricing" plans, after he somehow managed to get them past the city council reps? Though the MEN still seems to believe in the fairy tale of the "successful London congestion scheme". Do they really not know that traffic speeds in London have not improved? Or that the new Mayor is about to scrap the old Mayor's extension of the zone?

  • "21st century could be put on hold" - FT - "Charging ahead". This is something like what was published after Edinburgh voted "No", and indicates that if Manchester also votes "No", the establishment will find some way of bringing the helots back into line.

  • The MEN get a quote from "No" campaigner - MEN - "C-charge: A fifth voted so far". The MEN wouldn't quote anything from a barbarian, so the "No" campaigner seems to be a PR person employed by the GMMG.

  • Bit more on the political ad - How do - "Banned transport ad was political says Ofcom", includes link to ad.

    Tuesday 2 December 2008
  • Tommy and Sir Cyril say "Yes", Tories "No" - Rochdale Online - "Tommy says yes while Tories say no to TIF".

  • Toll Poll interim voting (as at this AM) figures now out - Returning Officer - "Polling Progress Information Revealed". There will be similar announcements on the 5th and 8th.
    District Voters Voted %
    Bolton 199,819 42,534 21.3
    Bury 140,441 38,394 27.3
    Manchester 340,730 45,900 13.5
    Oldham 159,328 44,422 27.9
    Rochdale 155,830 36,382 23.3
    Salford 164,982 38,842 23.5
    Stockport 216,973 57,636 26.6
    Tameside 164,062 46,355 28.3
    Trafford 163,677 32,843 20.1
    Wigan 235,043 42,305 18.0
    ALL 1,940,885 425,613 21.9

  • If vote is "Yes" low paid will get £220 fares cut - Chester Standard - "Low paid to save on fares: Yes Campaign".
    What will the "Yes" campaign be offering next? With all the giveaways and exemptions and discounts it seems as if the authorities have found a new way of producing vast sums of money with no one paying. How many will fall for this fool's gold?

  • Tory MP queries Government over borrowing but they pass the buck - Community News - "Brady challenge over borrowing for congestion charge".
    This was the question - "What account has the Minister taken of the additional costs that would fall on Greater Manchester local authorities in the event of a vote for the introduction of the congestion charging scheme, which would be accompanied by £1.2 billion of borrowing by Manchester authorities now, with repayment starting immediately and continuing into the future, regardless of whether a charge introduced in five years' time pays for the cost or not?"
    This was the Minister's non-answer - "One of the advantages of being a champion of localism is that I can reasonably say that those sorts of decisions are rightly made by the local authorities involved. They will be made by the relevant local authorities after they have properly consulted the people of Greater Manchester about their proposals. The Government have made it clear that they will stand by to provide capital support and encouragement to achieve the substantial transport improvements required in that great city for the future.".

  • Bolton Labour MP says "No" - It isn't Ruth, yet - Bolton News - "MP defends his 'late' criticism of road charges"

  • "Optimistic" - This week's print edition of Crain's has a big feature on TIF spending and the toll income that the authorities expect. An analyst from Ovum says that the "numbers look optimistic". He did well to get any meaningful numbers to look at. London barely manages to make a profit where the toll is £8 and the consultant refers to Manchester's "average charge of £3.70". An interesting figure as the authorities have said that hardly anyone will pay the full toll, and according to the GM Future Transport website those drivers who pay anything at all will on average pay £2. So which average is correct? Are the authorities using Monopoly money?

  • "We're still sceptical about TIF" - that is the headline in this week's print edition of Crain's. They do not tell business people how to vote. Many of them will not have a vote anyway, which Crain's says will be "taxation without representation, and therefore fundamentally unfair".
    Crain's also say that "The dangled carrot of government money creates the false impression that this is the only opportunity for Manchester ever to tackle congestion and join the ranks of thr world's forward-looking cities. This sounds suspiciously like a line being peddled to sell a product which does not bear close scrutiny."

  • Tameside says "No" - Rob and others from MART group in Tameside, were campaigning yesterday in Ashton and got support from shoppers and others.

  • MPs say "Yes" to road tolls by two to one - MEN - "MPs split over c-charge ballot". As the 4 Labour MPs who kept their lips sealed would have probably backed the plans, that makes it 20 out of 28 or 71% in favour, will this be reflected in the real vote?

  • The bonus for Returning officer - Crain's - "Two MPs call for returning officer to give up £10,000 bonus".

  • Challenge - MEN - "Century's c-charge challenge". To make up for keeping their readers in the dark about the real facts, the MEN has a race into Manchester city centre. The result was the same as what happened with similar stunts in Edinburgh and London - the car is usually beaten by two wheeled transport. Could this be because "The cyclist soon lost the car which was slowed down by red light after red light" which of course cyclists can ignore. In any case, if you have to travel to Manchester city centre in peak period, most people would not go by car and a C charge will make little difference to those who do.

    Monday 1 December 2008
  • Sir Richard wants to change rules for disabled badges - Community News - "Blue badge shake-up if congestion charge happens". Did Sir Richard make a mistake? Or was he remembering something in the part of the plans which are secret?

  • Links, what links? - On Friday following the Ofcom decision on political ads, the Returning Officer said "I am advised that the website now includes links to the No and Yes campaigns which provide access to a range of contrasting viewpoints." The links have appeared today - "Referendum Campaign Groups". Instead of linking to all the groups, there are only two links, one is to the "Vote Yes" group who in turn have links to the other groups campaigning for the scheme. On the "No" side there is just "Stop the Charge" (i.e. the GMMG), which has no links to MART or this site who were campaigning on this issue long before the Fifth Cavalry of the GMMG came along. No surprise really that we and MART are not in the links, but does the Returning Officer realise that what he said on Friday was not correct?

  • Sir Alex (you know the one from the country where there are no tolls or "congestion charges") says "Yes" at last - Guardian - "Manchester congestion charge plan gets Ferguson backing".
    In July 2007 there was a rumour that Lord Smith, Sir Richard and Sir Howard had signed up the United manager together with Ken Barlow, the Hallé and Oasis. Now that Sir Alex has at last signed on, can the others be far behind?

  • Our Manchester page updated - The Toll Truth.

  • How the "Tour de TIF" turned out - Rochdale OnLine - "Ditch the car and ride - say campaigners".
    Did the three cyclists give the guy with the placard a piggy back, or did he get there by car?

    Saturday 29 November 2008
  • More on the political ad - Crain's - "Ofcom says congestion charge film breached its rules". There is no surprise that the "Yes" camp are saying that the ruling was "unbalanced and unjustified" and that it is all a fuss about nothing.

    The Returning Officer has decided that the vote should go ahead. A large part of the Ofcom decision referred to the main website of those behind this scheme - Greater Manchester Future Transport - which is featured in the advert (and on the Returning Officer's own website) which gives the impression that this is unbiased, neutral information. The Returning Officer is quoted in the MEN yesterday - "I am advised that the website now includes links to the No and Yes campaigns which provide access to a range of contrasting viewpoints." Really? As of this morning the Links page on the Future Transport website has fifteen "Useful Links". The first is to the Returning Officer's own website. There are also links to three of the organisations behind this scheme - GMPTA, GMPTE and DfT. The other eleven are to sites that deal with global warming or air quality, including the World Wildlife Fund who support tolls and congestion charges. There are NO links to "No" organisations. Why did the Returning Officer apparently not check before he made his statement?

  • Businesses vote "No", but the Chamber of Commerce is still toll pushing - Crain's - "Chamber survey: 63 per cent against congestion charging". Most Manchester businesses have consistently said that though they think congestion is a problem and more should be spent on public transport, they do NOT want tolls. It appears that despite this the Chamber of Commerce is still pushing tolls. One thing that the last two years has shown is how wide spread the influence of the Manchester establishment is.

    Friday 28 November 2008
  • Too subtle? - David Ottewell Blog - "C-charge Ofcom ruling - first thoughts". The MEN's political reporter is "baffled" by parts of the Ofcom ruling as he thinks that the words used were neutral. Perhaps the MEN can get in touch with the PR consultants that will have been hired with part of the extra twenty million pounds that the Government gave the Councils when they gave their provisional go ahead on the 9th June. They will have been expert in the many subtle ways to get the result that you want and will have tested the effect of alternative scripts. In a real referendum none of this would have been allowed and each side would have been limited in what they could spend on promoting their view.

  • Surprise "No" - BBC - "Road charging advert in 'breach'"   Guardian - "Ofcom censures ITV for broadcasting 'political' congestion charging ad". Wow! We never thought that any watchdog would rule against the establishment. Though the best laugh is the story on the MEN site - "C-charge TV ad 'broke rules'". Immediately below the picture of the now banned GMPTE ad, there is one from the "Yes" campaign. Who is paying for these ads?
    PS From Ofcom site - Press release - "ITV1 (Granada) in breach of political advertising rules"   Full ruling (pdf).

  • Another report on Wednesday's debate that is not from MEN, though it is from another "Yes" - Manchester Confidential - "The MEN's Congestion Charge debate - Jonathan Schofield and why we shouldn't be having a Transport referendum".
    If as we hope the result of the poll is "No", then we will see a lot more of what was said after the Edinburgh poll, about voters being "short-sighted" and how such decisions should not be put before the people - even when the establishment control the process and with the help of the companies that hope to profit can spend millions in persuading people to vote "Yes".

  • Comments that have been added to the "C-charge votes to be kept secret" story - MEN. One thing that we must say in favour of the MEN is that they do not seem to censor these web comments even though they go against the paper's policy.

  • Report on Wednesday's debate that is not from MEN - Motors Today - "Road Charging Scheme Sparks Fiery Debate".

  • "Yes" campaign give away - Manchester Confidential - "Ten Peter Saville artworks to give away - The Yes campaign over the Transport Referendum have given us art from the city's greatest designer to give to you". What next? A draw for a free Mercedes, complete with C-charge exemption?

  • Wigan views - Wigan Evening Post - "C-Charge D-Day as ballot packs go out".

  • To boldly go where others are stepping back - ABD press release - "London Congestion Charge - Western Extension Abolished … as Manchester Votes on Introducing a Huge Charging Zone".
    PS We wondered yesterday whether what has happened in London would be made known to the readers of the MEN, it seems not.

  • MEN show clip of Wednesday's debate where Sir Richard says that "No" campaign are dishonest - "C-charge votes to be kept secret". Sir Richard defending the Yes campaign offer to help with ballot papers - ".. No campaigns point of view, that I think it's either ignorance of what's being proposed or deliberate untruths. I don't believe is acting in good faith or in an honest way.".. With stuff like this does the Yes campaign also need the adverts on the MEN stories? (Though we notice that the "Stop the Charge" campaign also now have some adverts in the MEN.)
    As for the printed story about the progress of the vote being secret, we assume that this is correct, though the situation in Edinburgh in 2005 was rumoured to be different. In any case "Voter turnout information" will be released and according to the Returning Officer's website that will be on 2nd, 5th and 8th December.

  • "Congestion charge splits Labour MPs" - Bolton News.

  • From the FT - "Manchester campaigners seize on London move"   "Global interest in city's scheme".

    Thursday 27 November 2008
  • Not really news - Surprisingly the MEN (or at least the David Ottewell blog) has revealed that the London Mayor is to scrap the Western half of the Con zone - "London c-charge: Western extension scrapped" David wonders "Whether this has any great impact on the debate in Manchester". No doubt that the Manchester establishment will make sure that it does not.

  • Greater Manchester Transport Campaign - The GMTC is an independent group representing users of passenger transport in Greater Manchester, they do not oppose the principle of charging but are not happy with the TIF scheme. Here is a - letter just sent to their members (pdf).

  • JAWS! - Rochdale Online - "Sharkey makes a wave for his anti-congestion charge campaign".

  • Trust - Salford Advertiser - "It's a matter of trust".
    Assuming that a voter is naive enough to trust the politicians, who is it who believes that the politicians will control this rather than the bureaucrats and the companies? And why would anyone think that it was fair that what the "Yes" camp claims is only one in ten drivers who are already overtaxed should pay for it?

  • MP says "Plans for Manchester congestion charge are nothing short of barmy" - Graham Brady, Tory MP for Altrincham & Sale West in "Public Service".

  • LONDON MAYOR AGREES THAT WESTERN HALF OF THE LONDON CON WILL GO - click on link at the top to go to our main News page.

  • "Thank you" David - David Ottewell Blog in the MEN - "TIF: my vote". The thank you is for David not revealing how he will vote. But he is wrong if he thinks that the MEN has been open handed in its coverage of this issue over the last two years. The MEN has reported some "No" stories as it could not completely ignore us, but it has been an integral part of the Manchester establishment propaganda campaign for tolls.

  • Graham Stringer still saying "No" - Middleton Guardian - "MP's personal plea to readers - vote 'no''".

  • More on - Bolton News "poll" indicates "No" - updated report inc video - Bolton News - "Bolton's 'NO' to congestion charge".

  • More on - "Yes" campaign volunteer to help fill in ballot papers - Rochdale Online - "TIF 'Yes' Campaign scrutinised by returning officer"   MEN - "'Yes' offer of help to voters rapped". Despite the impression given in the news media during this campaign, legally what is happening is NOT a referendum. The Returning Officer has issued a "Code Of Conduct And Fraud Prevention Protocol" pdf, but it is not clear what legal force it has, though it does list "possible crininal offences" under various general laws.

  • Last night's MEN debate - MEN - "Heated debate on the C-charge" inc video (which is just a free advert for "Yes" courtesy of the MEN)   MEN - "Heated debate on the C-charge" Comments   Ottewell blog - "The great debate: picking over the bones"   Mancunian Way blog - "C-charge debate over - but the arguments rage on!".

  • More on the "Yes" poll from "Yes" - Oldham Advertiser - "Polls suggests C-Charge vote will be close".

    Wednesday 26 November 2008
  • Oldham Council says vote "Yes" - Oldham Council has a link on its website to a You Tube video produced by its Sixth Form College, which the Council says has the purpose of encouraging first time voters to take part in the "referendum" - You Tube - Oldham Council.
    This video is obviously really meant to get young people to vote "Yes". If a Council had produced a similar film on the "No" side, then the establishment would have them hauled off to the Tower, but the toll advocates are free to do whatever they like as they control the system.

  • Whiz to avoid tolls - Free Wheels.

  • "Tour de TIF" - Rochdale OnLine - "Cyclists use pedal power to tackle congestion charge".

  • Labour MP says "Yes" - Leigh Reporter - "MP backs congestion charge". Andy is in the Cabinet so Gordon, Alistair and Geoff would not be very happy if he said "No"!   Andy's biog on Wikipedia. The only thing on Andy's own website about the Con is - "Expert opinion put 1 job in 7 at risk if nothing was done to tackle growing road congestion". With misleading claims like this, he should be leading the "Yes" campaign.

  • "Yes" campaign volunteer to help fill in ballot papers" - MEN - "Yes Campaign probed over `helpline'". As this is not a real referendum, there are no rules. It couldn't be a real referendum because Britain's MPs will not pass any law to authorise referenda on any form of tolls as a proper referendum has to be fair and those who advocate tolls would stand no chance of winning. More on the non "Referendum".

  • Bolton News "poll" indicates "No" - 82% of those who took part in the Poll voted for Tory Leader John Walsh and "No", with 18% going for the Labour and Lib Dem leaders who want Bolton people to vote "Yes" - "Bolton's 'NO' to congestion charge". The "On a knife edge" poll by the "Yes" campaign that was published on Monday said that 55.4% of Bolton people would vote "Yes". It will be interesting to see which poll is closest to the real ballot.

  • Tonight's debate from 6PM to 8PM - You can watch live - Hold the Front Page - "MEN to broadcast c-charge debate on local tv outlet" inc channel tuning details.

  • Bit more on the advert - How Do - "Congestion ad gets pulled after Ofcom complaints" INCLUDES THE AD   ABD Press release.

    Tuesday 25 November 2008
  • Road to fly - The Government are to release a bit of cash for a new road to Manchester Airport from the A6 near Hazel Grove - BBC - "Airport road link gets go-ahead". The amount that the Government will be spending is the equivalent of what they take from drivers in just one day. But is this loosening of the purse strings really a punishment for Peel who own the airport at Liverpool?

  • MEN Deputy editor says "Yes" - Will she get a rise?   "Time to get off road to traffic hell".

  • Bit more on biased adverts - Crain's - "ITV pulls congestion charge film".

  • Bolton - Labour and Lib Dems say vote "Yes", Tories say vote "No" - Bolton News - "Time to decide on road charge: Plus add your vote".

  • Clean air masks - Knutsford Guardian - "'Manchester congestion charge will improve our children's air'".
    We wonder if Lis Phelan will say that "For members of the `yes' campaign to use images of children wearing oxygen masks to promote their campaign is beyond belief."?

  • Bus bonanza? - This week's subscription edition of Crain's includes a piece on the effect of the £2.7 billion TIF spending on buses.
    Stagecoach say that over the next 5 years they plan to spend £25 million a year (mainly on bendy buses) over three years if TIF is agreed, as against £7 million a year if it isn't. The extra spending on buses is two per cent of the TIF spending, or rather it isn't as it seems that the only chunk of that £2.7 billion to be directly spent on the buses will be for purchase of CCTV cameras and that the bendy buses will be paid for out of company profits.
    The bus companies are also expecting that they will discount fares for "low paid workers". The mind boggles as to how this would work, but in any case the cost of this is not part of the £2.7 billion either, it will come from "net congestion charging revenues". It seems that the profits on the tolls that they claim hardly anyone will have to pay will be funding quite a lot as well as paying off over one billion pounds of debt.
    As the Manchester tolls will magically produce an inexhaustible supply of cash, does Alistair Darling need to borrow a few bob for the weekend?

  • Complaints from both sides - MEN - "Stick to facts plea on C-charge".

    Monday 24 November 2008
  • Toll promoter "baffled" as to why its adverts are seen as biased - BBC - "Road charging film investigated".

  • Bill says "Yes" - Will Hutton - journalist, Work Foundation boss and supporter of the London Con says in the MEN - "'Use your vote wisely'" and vote "Yes". The Work Foundation is classed as left wing though its board includes people from banking, the oil industry, the Government and similar philanthropic organisations - Work Foundation - Board.

  • MEN Assistant editor says "No" - A brave man - "'C-charge is highway robbery'".

  • Architects say "Yes" - Architects Journal - "Manchester to vote on radical transport plans".

  • Ballot papers going out - New Civil Engineer - "Manchester TIF vote 'on knife edge'" INCLUDES RESULTS OF "YES" POLL DISTRICT BY DISTRICT   Business Green - "Firms urged to vote yes in Manchester green transport referendum"   Bolton News - "Time to vote on road toll plans"   MEN - "C-charge on a knife-edge"  Transport Briefing - "Manchester congestion charge referendum papers sent out".

  • A new "No" website - "GM Congestion charge". Not bad, but a pity that the site does not link into other "No" sites

  • A relatively "independent" account of what is happening - Independent - "Congestion charge: Running out of road?".

  • "Conspiracy theory" - John Jeffay blog in MEN.

  • Bit on this Wednesday's debate - How Do - "Congestion charge campaigners to battle it out on Channel M".

  • Radio Five debate - Last night on the Stephen Nolan show there was a debate on the Con with Graham Stringer and Sean Corker up against Clean Air Now, who trotted out their myth that air in London was cleaner because of the charge. The reality is that for one reason or another there was an initial deterioration after the charge was introduced, and more recent figures show no detectable improvement.

    Sunday 23 November 2008
  • Politics Show - Today's North West edition featured the Con charge. It started off with what happened with the Edinburgh Toll Poll in 2005, though it had no one on who was involved in the main "No" campaign. The BBC then gave viewers the "fact" that Stockholm voted for the charge - the real "fact" is that if the suburbs who also voted are included, then the majority was against it.
    The programme raised the issue of whether it was fair that people in areas such as Chorley who would be affected, did not have a vote. But the main part of the programme was Lis Phelan speaking for the Yeses, and Graham Stringer again doing a great job for the Noes. One laugh was Lis complaining that 83% of journeys to work were by car, and yet saying that according to "independent" figures only 10% of drivers will be affected by the road tolls. The question of the ballot paper question was discussed and Lis may have been trying to give the impression that Edinburgh voted No because they did not understand the ballot question. In fact almost everything that Manchester is doing has been copied from Edinburgh - let's hope that despite the millions being spent by the Yes campaign, there is the same result in Manchester.

  • The Yes campaign seems to have various newspaper editors on their side and a small army of people distributing their leaflets. If you can help to distribute "No" posters, leaflets and stickers then please contact us by email

  • Socialist says abstain - Worker's Liberty - "Campaign for free, publicly owned transport".

    Saturday 22 November 2008
  • Con papers ready - BBC - "Ballot papers ready" video. The question paper should really read "Have you been fooled by this Con? Please vote "Yes" or "No"".

  • NHS bosses backing the Con - MEN - "NHS road toll chaos denied". The "Yes" campaign must regret that votes were ever given to the proles, as if it was only bosses and bureaucrats who could vote, then they would win easily.
    The report that the director of public health for NHS Manchester says that the congestion charge could save 135 lives a year by reducing road accidents shows that the Yes campaign have sunk to a new low. Even in London and Edinburgh such an outrageous claim about savings so many lives was never made.

    Friday 21 November 2008
  • GMPTE deny that tolls will be extended - Bury Times - "Transport bosses deny expansion of congestion charge zones". The best bit is Lord Smith of Trolls giving bicycle hire as "the kind of forward-thinking project that we hope to deliver through the TIF bid". What does he have in mind from the £3 billion of loot - solid gold bicycles? Though as on Radio Five this morning the "spokes" man for the Yes campaign was someone from a cyclists organisation, perhaps the cyclists are expecting that they WILL get solid gold bikes. (Speaking against the charge was Roger Lawson, from the Association of British Drivers) who is an expert on the London Con.)

  • Coverage goes national - Now that the ballot papers are soon to go out, the Manchester Con plans have had national coverage on BBC radio last night and this morning and on - "Manchester in traffic charge vote".

    Thursday 20 November 2008
  • "Council tax will cover C-Charge overspend" - Salford Advertiser. Not sure why this is news. It has been known since the summer that not only will the council tax payers foot the bill for overspending, they will also be liable if there is a shortfall in tolls. There is also a Catch 22 - if Manchester goes ahead with the scheme, then it increases the chances that a national scheme will be introduced, and the Government will then want all the road tolls income for itself.

  • Bit more on Greater Manchester Transport Campaign - On Tuesday we mentioned the GMTC view of the current TIF scheme. As they are independent and not reliant on the authorities for funds, they seem to be not confident that the TIF monies will be wisely spent by the GMPTE. Here are some more of their views on transport from the November 2007 copy of their magazine (pdf files) - Greater Manchester Transport Campaign edition 7 - part one   edition 7 - part two.
    Nearly everyone agrees that more should be spent from general taxes on public transport, but it needs to be spent wisely. Experience indicates that when you give public authorities large amounts of money to spend quickly, you can guarantee lots of waste, lots of extra pay for officials and lots of profit for contractors.

  • More on effect of - Sick discount - Crain's - "MPs question administration of c-charge for medical patients"   MEN - "C-charge 'intolerable' for NHS"   Stockport Express - "'Charge will stretch NHS to the limit'".

  • More on last week's debate organised by the South Manchester Reporter -
    "Opinion: A road toll made in heaven or hell?"   "Readers have their say on the C-charge"   "Opinion on C-charge is 'split down the middle'"   "James Chapman-Kelly - November 20 2008".

  • "£600 a day for vote chief" - MEN. Well, there's one man who won't be forced off the road if people vote "Yes" to road tolls, though some may not realise what they have done from the ballot question.

  • Sick discount - About my area - "Stockport councillors Slam Administration of the Congestion Charge Medical Discount".

  • Crowded trains - Labour MP goes for a ride - Tameside Advertiser - "MP caught up in a tight situation". With or without the Con, there are plans to increase railway capacity though longer trains etc. If Mr Purnell and Co get their way then the trains will probably still be crowded as they will have forced more people in to them - the worst peak hour congestion in London is on public transport.

    Wednesday 19 November 2008
  • Vote Yes to be safe - Bolton News - "'Safer public transport' with charge".

  • Voting deadline reminder - The deadline for "redirection or proxy applications" is 5PM on Friday, details are available on 0800 7839828 - Toll Poll Office press release on 7th.

  • Where to shop? - MEN - "Stores in c-charge battle".

  • More on MEN debate next Wednesday - MEN - "Gearing up for the Congestion Charge #C_debate".

    Tuesday 18 November 2008
  • Bosses and Unions back road tolls - MEN - "Major backing for C-charge". Perhaps our headline should just be "Bosses back road tolls", as we don't recall ordinary union members having a vote on this issue.

  • Bit from Rochdale Online - "Government accused of bully tactics over c-charge".

  • Greater Manchester Transport Campaign - The Greater Manchester Transport Campaign is a body that campaigns on behalf of passengers (bus, train and tram). Unlike some other bodies it is not dependent upon the Trolls for funding.
    GMTC does not campaign against the road toll proposal, but neither, perhaps surprisingly, does it campaign for them. This is part of what they said about the scheme in their October newsletter (part only, see page 4, pdf file)-
    The Greater Manchester Scandal-don't be fooled
    .. Most of you will have seen the large advertisements on buses, trains and trams or in bus/rail stations purporting to give you information about the suggested congestion charges (Toll Taxes) .. To say that these advertisements are economical with the truth is a masterpiece of understatement as they quite deliberately suggest all sorts of vast increases in public transport will happen as a result whereas there is no way all the suggested improvements could happen or be sustained.
    ... We are not against a sensible congestion charge of say £5 every time a motorist drives into the city centre triangle bounded by the Mancunian Way, Great Ancoats Street and perhaps Trinity Way (A6042) which would be simple to administer, probably provide as much income and free Manchester city centre from congestion.
    .. Passengers on public transport will certainly not obtain many of the suggested improvements stated in the advertisements. The advertisements about the congestion charge and the TIF Bid are a GREATER MANCHESTER SCANDAL. We strongly advise everyone to vote against the TIF Bid in the December Referendum because we suggest the proposed scheme is unworkable and would put Greater Manchester in debt for decades to come."
  • Another report on last week's debate in Didsbury - South Manchester Reporter - "Student's take on our big debate".

  • Clean Air myths - Crain's - "Clean Air Now campaign: TIF can cut childhood asthma rates". The claim that road tolls will cut childhood asthma is similar nonsense to what was said when they tried to force road tolls on Edinburgh in 2005 - Edinburgh Toll & Air Pollution. The official research there showed that most of the harmful emissions came not from cars but from buses, lorries and taxis - vehicles that will be exempt from the tolls.

  • Another comment from Ray King in yesterday's MEN - "World says 'less tax' but not the TIF 'Yes' crowd" -
    Ray suggests that TIF supporters are "living in a bubble" or "on another planet". The reason is that the world and Gordon Brown are about to have a "multi-billion pound tax give away", which in Britain is expected will include further postponement of the increase in fuel duty, delay or cancellation of higher tax on cars that produce more CO2 and more spending on transport infrastructure. Ray compares this with the plans for Greater Manchester "to tax motorists up to £1,200 a year for the privelege of driving to work". Ray thinks that this is unfair and he doesn't "buy the argument that drivers will find £1,200 a year a price worth paying for less congested roads because there's not a shred of evidence that journey times will be any swifter - further bus priority schemes will soon see to that."
    Ray also points to the vast amount that will be spent on setting up and running the tolls system and paying "the army of bureaucrats needed to run it". He says that the original promise that transport "improvements" would be in place before tolls kicked in during 2013 was replaced with an "80%" promise. One expert told Ray that "ther'es not a cat in hell's chance" of this.
    Ray ends with "By picking the pockets of Greater Manchester's car commuters .. Mr Hoon and Mr Darling will have more cash to thow at their pet transport schemes elsewhere, and particularly London .. Mr Hoon has repeated the mantra that 'there is no plan B'. Well there damn well ought to be...".

  • From Richard Littlejohn in today's Daily Mail - "Now Labour resorts to blackmail" - Richard refers to "Hoon's threats" and attempt to "bully the people of Manchester". He says that "This is a scandalous abuse of power and an affront to democracy, though typical of the way Labour uses public money to buy votes".

    Monday 17 November 2008
  • The Obama dream - Knutsford Guardian - "Barack Obama's advisers study area's congestion charge plan". Whoever writes this stuff which is used in the papers is brilliant - they say that Obama wants to learn from the Manchester Con and then they say that there are already "more than 3,000 similar projects in America"!!

    cashcowRecognise your car?

    Some anonymous poet is also circulating some brilliant spoof versions of the Yes Campaign posters - "ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD VOTE YES". Our favourite is the one that says -
    "VOTE YES because I won't pay the congestion charge - I'll just clone your number plate!!! - (Speeding and red light jumping will also increase as drivers race to beat the clock at the toll cordons.)"

  • Collaboration - Leaflets are being distributed which are headed "YOUR CONGESTION CHARGE EXEMPTION Important Information". The leaflet is aimed at drivers and is designed to minimise the impact of the road tolls (at least for those who believe that what the Government says now will not change). The leaflet says if you want further information then ring a number (0800 234 6100) at the GMPTE. Is the leaflet official? Though it looks like it, at the bottom of one page it says that it is published by the Yes campaign. It is an example of the difficulty of distinguishing between the advertising paid for from taxpayer's money and the advertising that is paid for by .. the taxpayer?

  • PS to - WMD Hoon says "No" means no money at all - From the Register, with over 40 comments - "Gov to Manchester: No new trams without road pricing".

  • Debate in Bury on 29th - Bury Times - "Congestion charge debate - final details revealed".

  • Stockport almost unnanimous - If the letters and articles by MPs and councillors of all parties are anything to go by, there is hardly a single soul in Stockport who supports the Big Con. (Though even if everybody in Stockport votes No, the Council may still be forced to take part in the tolls scheme, as AGMA decided that if seven council areas vote Yes, then all ten councils will have to take part.)
    Here is a flavour from last Wednesday's Stockport Express who have been regularly covering the Big Con but this time had a "Spotlight on the Transport Debate" -

    - On the main page indicating that they were against the Con were Dave Goddard, the Lib Dem Council Leader; Anthony O'Neill, Tory councillor and Peter Scott, Labour group leader - "A price not worth paying".

    - On another page of the Stockport Express also against the Con were - Mark Hunter, Lib Dem MP for Cheadle; Andrew Stunnel, Lib Dem MP for Hazel Grove and Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish. There was one politician who wants the Con - Ann Coffey, Labour MP, who wants road tolls to "encourage" people off the road at peak times "so those who pay will have less congested roads". There was also of course a property developer who wants road tolls and says that opponents are "a few short-sighted, out-dated people".

    - On a separate page we had Andrew Gwynne again, saying - "The congestion charge will effectively slice my Denton and Reddish constituency in two ... The outer charging boundary .. is purely an arbitrary boundrary set by bureaucrats at the GMPTE. The people of my constituency didn't ask for this .. it becomes purely a tax on where we happen to live! .. I don't think that the question is as clear as it might be, but I credit Stockport residents with enough nous to know what they are voting on .. And if you need my recommendation - I'm voting No."

    - The GMPTE and AGMA also had their say via an advert - "Public transport investment and the congestion charge" which starts off with a long list of the goodies that they say Stockport would get if only they will vote yes to a "congestion charge" that will hardly ever apply to anybody!

  • Stockport adverts - While the GMPTE and their allies appear to be free to sell the Con, the Yes camp have reported Stockport Council to the Government auditors for what they say is illegal anti toll scheme advertising by the Council - Stockport Council's wicked deviation (also click on the link to "your questions answered".

  • WMD Hoon says "No" means no money at all - Times - "Manchester being 'bullied' by Government into accepting road tolls". Well at least there is no threat yet of "shock and awe" if the people don't do what the Government wants.

  • Debate "lined up" - Times - "C-charge debate teams lined up". The MEN have apparently not yet found a second person to oppose road tolls. A good sign for the "yes" camp?

    Sunday 16 November 2008
  • Bit more on "how many will pay" story - Bury Times - "One in three households would pay congestion charge".

    Friday 14 November 2008
  • "Let's not take the risk of voting no" - Guardian Comment - "Manchester should vote yes to the congestion charge".
    Lucy apart from thinking that it is safer to say "Yes" is according to her biog in the Guardian, Labour's candidate for Manchester Withington, the ex director of "Britain in Europe" and a City supporter (they are currently lying 13th in the Premiership, let's hope that this is sign of where the Con will end up).

  • Let's go to the movies
    - Actors grind to a halt, even a cyclist (does he stop for red lights?)   YouTube - "TheYesCampaign".
    - MART Chicken - MEN - "One-chicken C-charge protest".
    - South Manchester Reporter - "Hundreds turn out for big C-Charge debate" (click on video). Did that cyclist really say that he supported the Con as cyclists were currently "afraid of the speed of traffic"? He must know that the traffic in London takes longer to get round than it did before the C-charge was introduced.

  • Tory "clears things up" - Bolton News - "Tories opposed to road charge".

    Thursday 13 November 2008
  • David Ottewell gives Sir Howard's view on Who will pay TIF tolls figures - MEN - "Dear Graham...".
    There is a prize for anyone who understands the explanation. But it seems that Sir Howard is repeating the assertion that over 90 per cent of trips "would not incur a charge". These figures appear to have been produced by those who are trying to sell the scheme and they don't allow for the massive probability that the scheme will be extended. But even given all that 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 is a similar result if you look at the FAQ - How many drivers would pay the congestion charge?.
    Though we have not got a Con yet are half the drivers already travelling outside the peak? Have they perhaps lost half the toll payers already? Or is it because drivers taking "one way trips" dislike road tolls so much that they have joined Detective Inspector Sam Tyler on Mars?

  • Toll sales conference - The new Transport Secretary WMD Hoon was at a "Passenger Transport 2008 event" which by "coincidence" was held in Manchester. The MEN reports at length the Gettysberg address from Sir Richard - "Hoon's road plan praise". The Manchester Ship Canal? Is that the one that is owned by Peel, who have developed the old Salford docks, and who oppose the Con?

  • Not all hauliers are convinced that they will be let off paying tolls - - "Haulier slams Manchester C-charge proposal".

  • Establishment tries to bring Stockport Council Leader into line - Crain's - "Developer reports Stockport MBC to Audit Commission". The Audit Commission are in effect another arm of the Government. If there is anybody who should be on trial, it is the trolls who appear to be able to do anything that they like including breaking the rules that the Stockport Leader is said to have broken.

  • End or not - MEN - "'No vote is not the end'"   MEN - "Hoon: No c-charge plan B".
    If the scheme is stopped, then there are two possibilities. One is that the toll fanatics in some of the Councils with their army of consultants paid for by the taxpayer will go back to the drawing board and will come back with a smaller scheme which they will not put to a vote. The other possibility is that the Councils give up on tolls and the carpet baggers move on to the next prey.
    If the trolls do give up then the Government for various reasons is likely to still want to put money into transport infrastructure, though Manchester's share is likely to be less. In Edinburgh, two years after the "congestion charge" was rejected in their Toll Poll, the trams scheme which the tolls were supposed to fund was anyway given the go ahead by the Scottish Parliament in June 2007.

  • Another debate - MEN - "C-charge showdown".

  • Denial? - Crain's - "Group: We didn't fund TIF advert". Before the Early day motion we had never heard of "The Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations" and can well believe what they say. But why did they add on to their denial, that some of the public money that they get is passed on to "community organisations concerned about the environment and transport"? Did any of those organisations who have indirectly received money helped to pay for the adverts?

  • Spreading the loot - Lancashire Telegraph - "East Lancs set for £3m congestion charge boost". Are the Trolls that desperate that they are looking for votes in Blackburn and Clitheroe?

    Wednesday 12 November 2008
  • Association of British Drivers and the Obama claims - Part of their latest press release - ... They think they are going to lose the Referendum in Manchester. This is why they are desperately trying to link their campaign to the Obama landslide victory in the US - they want to give it the credibility it so obviously lacks.
    But the Obama aide cannot be looking seriously at the scheme - because the financial details are being kept secret, even from city centre councillors whose constituents will be directly affected.
    The TIF bid document was recently released through Freedom of Information Act request with chapter 10 containing the financial aspects of the TIF bid removed.
    MP for Blakely and member of the Transport select committee Graham Stringer has seen the document and called the scheme 'crackers.'
    In a recent interview in Manchester Confidential he stated that there was a financial black hole that can only be filled by either a return to original plans to expand the charging zones to the other towns in Greater Manchester or by an increase in council taxes.
    The fact that the scheme is financially and politically untenable won't be altered by trying to climb onto the Obama bandwagon. It's high time that C-Charge proponents ended the spin and started to tell the truth about the financial black hole. That's the change we need.
  • David Ottewell gives his view on Who will pay TIF tolls figures - MEN - "C-charge debate hits X Factor".

  • Peter Roberts on Manchester and National road pricing - Politics - "Comment: Road pricing".

  • More on Obama through the Yes mirror - The story that disappeared yesterday from Rochdale Online has now appeared on Transport Briefing - "Obama transport chief lauds Manchester road pricing". The NAAT has a contact in Washington who is an expert on these issues, and he says that no one there has heard of the Manchester scheme. If Obama is looking to carry out his own Con, his plans so far are being kept secret.

  • MPs query if "Yes" money is coming from public funds - BBC -"Row over congestion charge motion"   Crain's -"MP wrangles with Clean Air Now over advert".
    This is the full motion - "That this House is concerned that the organisation Clean Air Now paid for an advertisement in the Independent newspaper on 20th October 2008 which criticised one of Greater Manchester's oldest and largest employers, Kellogg, for its opposition to the proposed Manchester congestion charge; understands that Clean Air Now receives funding from a number of public bodies, including Manchester is my Planet, Manchester Arts Festival and Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations; notes that these bodies are funded directly by a number of public sources, including the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities the Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive/Authority and Manchester City Council; is further concerned that acting in this way constitutes an inappropriate use of public funds; and urges public bodies to take greater care with public funds particularly in the run-up to the forthcoming referendum on the proposed Manchester congestion charge."
    The motion was put down by Graham Brady (Tory) and has also been signed by - Jim Dobbin (Labour), Mark Hunter (Lib Dem), Andrew Stunnel (Lib Dem), Peter Bottomley (Tory), Mike Hancock (Lib Dem), Alan Simpson (Labour), David Drew (Labour) and Nicholas Winterton (Tory).
    We have no idea where "Clean Air Now" got its money from. But how about the other "Yes" campaigns who seem to have a lot of money. Is any of that coming indirectly from the taxpayer or from firms that may profit from contracts if the scheme goes ahead? In any case this "Yes" advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. "Greater Manchester Future Transport" are spending a massive amount on advertising and that IS being paid for by the taxpayers. This official advertising should be neutral, but it comes from the very people who want the scheme and it minimises the real issue that people are worried about - road tolls."

  • Meanwhile a property developer attacks Stockport Council Leader who opposes the Con - Crain's - "Developer chairman wants investigation of Stockport MBC". There was another recent attack by a property developer on the Stockport Leader for his opposition to the Con. You can see why some others who oppose the tolls plan may be afraid to speak out.

    Tuesday 11 November 2008
  • Blast back at Graham Stringer - Manchester Confidential - "Lie, smear, scare".
    It is not clear who Jim Mackrell is. He seems to be an assistant secretary of the Manchester City Council branch of Unison. Is he employed by the union or by the Council? In any case is he fully aware of what has been going on? Is he not aware that the Council Leaders agreed the TIF submission last year even though they had not seen it? Is he not aware that now, over a year later, part of that submission is still secret? As to the ballot question, it may seem reasonable to him, but the ballot paper pack (the question, the preamble and leaflet) as with Edinburgh in 2005 obscures the real issue in this poll - it is road tolls, a phrase that does not appear to be in the vocabulary of Jim or the rest of the "Yes" camp.

  • Bit more on - Who will pay TIF tolls figures - Peter has prompted us to say a bit more about the competing claims following the survey of 5,000 residents commissioned by "Stop the Charge" which showed 29 per cent of people expect they will have to pay regularly. The official "Yes" campaign of course keeps repeating that only one in ten people will pay.
    Part of the difference is what people expect versus the "data" that the toll promoters have produced. Partly it is a question of who you include in "people". Is it everybody including those in Manchester Prison? Is it those travelling to work? Is it those travelling by car? If it is just those travelling by car, do you exclude the passengers?
    Another way of looking at this is "trips". The official "Yes" figures are that 20 percent of peak period trips will incur a charge, with only 2 percent paying £5 and the average charge being £2. Based on the current toll plans it is possible that these figures are about right.
    BUT again using the official Yes figures, over the 30 years of the scheme they need to gross over £8 billion in tolls to break even (in our view 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? And if your answer to that is "yes" perhaps you are one of the bankers responsible for the credit crunch and you would like to bid to run the scheme and guarantee the £8 billion!!

  • "Usual Suspects" - The Entrepeneurs magazine for November has a piece on "Establishment Backing - Usual suspects line up behind the TIF bid". It says that the "support of such establishment bodies (North West Business Leadership Team and the CBI) was taken for granted, but questions need to be asked about who they actually claim to represent". The magazine has found out that 40 per cent of those who took part in the CBI survey were businesses from outside Greater Manchester. The story concludes - "The pledges of support .. are a disappointing reminder of how provinicial political and business elites sing from the same hymn sheet".

  • Labour MP for Heywood & Middleton still opposing the Con - Rochdale Online -"MP maintains anti-congestion charge stance".

  • More on Obama through the Yes mirror - Rochdale Online -"Obama advisor supports Greater Manchester c-charge" (Since we first put this link in the story has vanished, it maybe that it was copied from the MEN, we will let you know if it reappears). Opiola is a consultant who has promoted the idea of tolls around the world. It seems that his firm is among those that have travelled on the TIF gravy train. The next thing will be that the Yes camp will be getting an endorsement from Joseph Alois Ratzinger, in Latin of course!

  • HELP! - MART had a meeting last night to discuss what needs to be done between now and the Toll Poll at the end of the month. If you can help with distribution of posters etc, then please contact us by email.

  • Obama through the Yes mirror - David Ottewell reports that Sir Richard has been saying that the US President elect is backing his (and Sir Howard and Lord Smith) road toll plans - MEN Blog -"What would Barack do?".
    There is a similar story in today's MEN which says that "Obama team study c-charge" and that Obama had "praised plans" similar to Manchester's that Mayor Billionaire Bloomberg had proposed for New York City, (but which were stopped at State level).
    This is the usual distortion. As far as New York goes, Obama was there and was asked about the Bloomberg "congestion pricing" plans, and he gave a neutral comment.
    Obama is of course a Democrat, and Bloomberg is at least nominally a Republican. Nationally, it is the Republicans who have been pushing tolls as you will see if you look at our main news pages and the stories linked to George Bush's Transport Secretary and her "Congestion-Reduction Demonstration Initiative", which was copied from Britain's TIF, though the Americans have so far done little on it.
    It is not clear what Obama's and the Democrat position is on most things, but part of Obama's response to the credit crunch was that there should be no "counterproductive increases in property taxes, tolls or fees" Obama on the Economy.

  • Who will pay TIF tolls figures - Last night's print edition of the MEN has a story - "'Own-goal' in C-charge battle". The "Yes" campaign seem to be gloating over the recent "No" claim that one third of people would pay the road toll, and not 10 per cent. The "Yes" side say that the "Noes" are counting passengers, and that this isn't fair as only the driver pays!
    In our view this is all academic. Most drivers will be affected directly at some time or other by the road tolls, and almost everyone (driver or not) will be affected indirectly. Based on the experience in London, the rules as to who pays, how much they pay and where and when the tolls operate will be changed. Even in Singapore, where they have had a tag and beacon system since 1998, there have been continual changes to the system, with even more gantries being erected this summer and more toll changes. Only the people in the "Yes" camp would believe that you can spend several billion pounds on trams etc and almost no one will have to pay the bill.

    Monday 10 November 2008
  • Minority report - John Jeffay blog in MEN - "Is anybody going to pay the congestion charge?".

  • Yes campaign go into movie business - MEN - "Station stops for congestion charge video". 100 actors? And while you look at this MEN clip, you will probably see the Yes advertisement. How much money have they got?

    Friday 7 November 2008
  • A little bit about the voting arrangements - MEN - "C-charge vote plan released".
    The MEN have added a link at the bottom of the story to their archive of "congestion charge stories". Funnily enough the first story on 10th Jan 2005 called the con what it really is a "city car toll".

  • Graham Stringer blasts with both barrels - Manchester Confidential - "Congestion Charging: fiddled questions, distorted propaganda and secrecy".

  • Con debate in East Didsbury - South Manchester Reporter - "C-Charge - join our big debate".

  • Tory Council Leader backing Con? - Bury Times - "Congestion charge: 'no cuts' promise".

  • Too many train customers? - Chester Chronicle - "Parking problems at Frodsham and Helsby railay stations 'would increase as result of congestion charge'".

  • How many will pay? - Crain's - "One in three to pay congestion charge, say TIF opponents". This may be an academic question as if the scheme is approved, then as in London it will be extended and affect more people directly. Indirectly almost everyone will be affected from Day One.

  • Say Yes and yes again to Con - Troll Times - "Is road pricing a good way to raise money?". Sir Richard says Yes, and to balance this we have someone from Cornwall saying that for Manchester "it is a great idea".

    Thursday 6 November 2008
  • David Ottewell's comment on Question to PM - MEN Blog - "C-charge: what did Gordon mean?".

  • "Yes" campaign - Salford Advertiser - "Yes campaign claims the tide is turning"   Rochdale Online - "National road pricing promotes need for a c-charge yes vote, say campaigners"   Fleetwood Weekly News - "Congestion charge 'crucial' say campaigners". The Yes campaign seem to think that the prospect of national road tolls is a reason for voting Yes, but if a national scheme comes in then the Manchester road tolls which are supposed to pay for trams etc will be taken by the Government.
    PS Adverts promoting the tolls scheme are now appearing on news stories on some websites. The adverts are paid for by AGMA and the GMPTA, who get their money from the council taxpayer.

  • "No" campaign - Middleton Guardian - "Toll Tax rebels claim big 'no' vote".

  • Some of the toll entrances - Middleton Guardian - "Toll 'gates' revealed".

  • More on - Question to PM - Crain's - "Referendum not the end for TIF says PM". In our view what the PM said meant nothing at all.

    Wednesday 5 November 2008
  • Question to PM - asked today by John Leech (MP for Manchester Withington and a Lib Dem Transport Spokesman) - BBC - "Prime minister's questions" (the question runs between 1 min 20 and 2 min 50 on the clip).
    This is from Hansard -
    Mr. Leech: May I add my condolences to the family of the dead soldier?
    Over the next few weeks, the residents of Greater Manchester will have the opportunity to vote in the referendum on introducing congestion charging in return for £1.5 billion Government investment in public transport. Many people support road pricing but do not support the scheme. Will the Prime Minister-[Uproar.]
    Mr. Speaker: Order. Let the hon. Gentleman speak.
    Mr. Leech: Will the Prime Minister-[Further uproar.]
    Mr. Speaker: Order. That was too long in the past, so do not put that accusation.
    Mr. Leech: Will the Prime Minister ensure that in the event of a "No" vote the people of Greater Manchester will have the opportunity to come back with an improved scheme without the concern that the Government might take the money away?
    The Prime Minister: I know that the voting paper has options for a "Yes" vote and a "No" vote, but I am afraid that there is no option for a "Don't know" vote -[Laughter.]. In the event of a "No" vote, it would be up to Greater Manchester authorities to decide whether they wanted to do further work on the proposals. The Government are in principle prepared to contribute, as he has said, up to £1.5 billion towards the Greater Manchester package, but that is dependent on the broad scope and nature of the package remaining the same. If Greater Manchester came back with a revised proposition, we would need to assess it on its merits.
    The PM in effect said "no tolls - no cash". At this stage he would have said nothing else. The novel thing is that John Leech believes that "Many people support road pricing", we will see.

  • Standing up for roads users - MEN - "One man's C-charge campaign" includes video.

  • More on last Friday's AGMA meeting and sweeteners - Oldham Advertiser - "Motorists won't have to pay for local trips"   Stockport Express - "Ballot to go ahead"   Bolton News - "Campaigners lead drive for road charging"   Transport Briefing - "Tram and rail projects added to Manchester TIF bid".

    Tuesday 4 November 2008
  • Business supports the scheme - it's official - Simon Binns this week in Crain's has a story - "Business deeply divided". Simon repeats the results of the official consultation of businesses which showed that the majority opposed the scheme, with 40 per cent "strongly against" compared with 10 per cent "strongly supporting". He quotes the reaction to this of the "Stop the Charge" coalition - "AGMA has always maintained the plans must pass four tests, one of which is that measures must be accepted by the business community. The consultation results prove beyound doubt that the scheme has failed the test." The response of the GMPTE when Simon queried this, was that the scrutiny panel and the AGMA Excecutive (the ten Council leaders) had "signed off" that all four tests, including business support, had been met.
    Simon also points out that - "AGMA has finalised the .. package, even though many details remain unclear. Official documents show that no decision has yet been made on which rail routes will benefit ..".

  • Example of the strong business backing for the scheme - The bosses at the CBI are among the keen official supporters of the scheme, or maybe not. Peter Devine, a reporter at the Stockport Express contacted them about the CBI backing for the scheme. The answer that he got from the regional director in Manchester was "...What we have said is that in principle we are supportive of the idea but more work needs to be done. The main issues are for a timescale to be produced detailing transport improvements. There was also concern about identifying what plans there are for circular movements around Greater Manchester - for example from Rochdale to Stockport, worries about the outer charging zone at the M60, and fears that the introduction of charging might move congestion elsewhere, and delivery times for freight into and out of Manchester city centre. There was also the issue of the mechanism to ensure the independence of the charging mechanism and determine future increases in charges."
    If you look back to 14th October - "Big bosses back tolls PS", it is a bit of a mystery as what the various firms told the CBI and how that relates to what the CBI themselves said to the official consultation and those campaigning for a Yes vote.

  • Labour candidate supports tolls - Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Rochdale says Yes - Rochdale Online - "Labour candidate backs TIF campaign". He seems to be very much New Labour and is co-founder and director of a consultancy business. It is not surprising that his views differ from those of the Rochdale Labour party who have been saying No.

  • About Turn - On the 13th October the Freight Transport Asociation issued a press relaese saying that they opposed the Machester c-charge. According to Materials Handling World, the FTA position has changed after Sir Richard has had a word with them - "Trafford Park own goal temporarily averted". What next - will Sir Richard persuade the Trafford Centre to put up Yes posters?

  • Yes Stars - The MEN features three people from the Yes posters - "C-charge ads create 'stars'". One of them appears to use taxis a lot and says - "The charge is good for taxis because they're exempt and there'll be less traffic." Perhaps we can all share her taxi but who will pay the fare? Another is 24 and says "my age group doesn't really think about the charge", sounds like just the sort of person the Yes campaign wants.

  • Chamber Survey - Rochdale Online - "Chamber runs TIF survey". The Chamber have been completely onesided about this scheme, so it is no surprise that the crucial question about support or not for the scheme is buried half way through a long questionaire.

    Monday 3 November 2008
  • Another petition - Bolton News - "Hundreds sign the Tories' road charge petition".

  • Yes and No - from MEN - "C-charge: The yes campaign"   "C-charge: The no campaign".

    Saturday 1 November 2008
  • Bit more on yesterday's AGMA meeting - Bolton News - "Countdown begins to congestion charge vote"   Crain's - "AGMA OKs last details of TIF package".

    Friday 31 October 2008
  • Yes camp win on Ballot wording - MEN - "C-charge vote gets go-ahead"   BBC - "Road charge vote gets green light"   David Ottewell's Blog - "C-charge ballot meeting: sketch".

  • In the view of those of us who are opposed to the toll plans, the ballot paper and the whole process around it is designed to minimise the number of people who will vote No.
    Legally what is to take place is not a "referendum" 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 where 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.

    We 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,

    nothing 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 tolls at a higher rate and more areas or times affected.
    This is democracy in the 21st century.

  • Another sweetener - Middleton Guardian - "Now C-Charge could bring new train station".

  • Bit more on the "consultation" response - Wigan Evening Post - "Wiganers give thumbs down to road plan".

  • Lancashire want a share - Lancashire Evening Post - "County could suffer for Manchester's C-Charge".

    Thursday 30 October 2008
  • The question - About my area - "Stockport Council Leader urges 'The Yes Campaign' to tell the truth over the wording of the C-Charging question".

  • Bit more on sweeteners - Rochdale Online - "Parties squabble over Heywood rail link proposal"   Middleton Guardian - "C-Charge: We get nowt".

  • Shock as latest exemptions are revealed - "Congestion Charge Changes".

  • Bit more on - not the real poll - Oldham Advertiser - "Borough posts early negative on C-Charge".

  • Bit more on - Stockport Council adverts censored - Crain's - "Stagecoach won't carry Stockport MBC's TIF adverts"   MEN - "Company refuses C-charge ads".

    Wednesday 29 October 2008
  • Yeses attack Graham Stringer - Crain's - "TIF supporters want apology from MP over ballot paper". Like everything else, the ballot paper appears to have been designed to minimise the chances that people will vote on the real issue - road tolls. Perhaps the Yeses should apologise to Graham Stringer.

  • The "sweeteners" - Stockport Express - "Funding branded 'just a sweetener'".

  • Bit more on - not the real poll - The GMPTE and their pollsters now say that the earlier reports are wrong and people did not reject the scheme, only bits of it - Bolton News - "Road charge feedback has been negative".

  • The ballot paper - MEN - "C-charge ballot revealed". The draft ballot paper and the leaflet is part of one of the AGMA reports for Friday's meeting that we gave the link to yesterday, though strangely since we gave the link, that part of the AGMA site is not working! The page may be back by the time that you read this but in case it isn't here is a copy of the ballot paper report.

  • More on Stockport Council adverts censored - BBC - "Anger over C-charge bus adverts".

    Tuesday 28 October 2008
  • Stockport Council adverts censored - Community News - ""Disgraceful behaviour" Goddard blasts Stagecoach". The Local Transport Act which was passed yesterday gives power over the bus companies to the transport authorities. There is no chance that the bus companies would take any risks.

  • More on - not the real poll - 4 - The GMPTE and their pollsters now say that the earlier reports are wrong and people did not reject the scheme, only bits of it - MEN - "C-charge feedback row".

  • PS to "Labour MP moves amendment to Road Tolls Bill" - On Saturday we reported that Labour's Graham Stringer (backed by Greg Knight a Tory MP) had moved an amendment to the "Local Transport Bill" that would require a proper referendum before a road tolls scheme could go ahead. The Report Stage and third reading was last night. The amendment had by the arcane Commons processes disappeared. There is more about the Bill on our main news page - "Black Monday - even worse than expected".

  • More on - not the real poll - 3 - David Ottewell blog - "C-charge: eyeballing the consultation figures".

  • AGMA reports - The reports to be considered at Friday's meeting. Item 10b "TIF Referendum Ballot Pack" includes the draft leaflet. There is a fault on the AGMA site so if you click "View" it may not work. Try clicking on "Save" and then you can either open or save the file.

  • More on - not the real poll - 2 - MEN - "C-charge: Negative response". The Yes campaign are probably correct to look on the bright side as they know they have the funds and most of the news media on their side. They will also be pleased that the hauliers are apparently so naive that they have been bought off with a promise of one years exemption. If the scheme is brought in, the hauliers could literally pay dearly for this.
    PS This is the RHA press release blessing the Manchester trolls for not molesting them. Does this remind anyone of Chamberlain and the piece of paper that Hitler gave him?

  • More on - not the real poll - 1 - MART issued this press release -
    Con Charge Opinion Poll Panic!
    Manchester Against Road Tolls have hit out at the latest round of con charge concessions claiming that Pro charge authorities are making financially unsustainable promises ahead of the December 11th referendum after results from the official Ipsos Mori consultation show massive opposition to the scheme.
    The concessions, expected to be nodded through at Fridays AGMA meeting, will mean even lower then forcasted revenue and higher operating costs for the proposed Manchester scheme at a time when the financial viability of the £1.2bn loan and congestion charge are increasingly being called into question.
    Just 10 days after Stockholm's Chamber of Commerce warned Manchester 'not to copy them' because hugely underestimated operating costs and lower then predicted revenues mean promised transport improvements in the Swedish capital could now be in doubt. Manchester Council leader Richard Leese has called Stockholm the model for Manchester 's scheme.
    MART spokesman Sean Corker said - "Many of the promised concessions such as Trafford Park and Lorry charging are short term at best meaning that the finances must already be very tight. We know that all aspects of the Manchester con charge will be reviewed on an annual basis and that evidence from other schemes such as London shows that once introduced charging prices quickly rise. It would seem that the authorities are panicking following negative consultation results."
    Monday 27 October 2008
  • MIDAS touch - Crain's report on the sales campaign, though they don't mention that MIDAS is funded by the Government and its friends - "MIDAS pleased with TIF changes".

  • Not the real poll - David Ottewell has got hold of the "consultation" results which show that most people who responded are against the scheme - MEN - "Blogsclusive: evidence points to a "no" vote". Given that people are being misled this may even understate the opposition - from those who bothered to reply. But the real Toll Poll is at the beginning of December and the Yes campaign have massive funds and influence over the news media. They will try every trick in the book to get their way.

  • Charge? What charge? - No tolls for lorries for first year, no tolls for Trafford Park till a tram arrives, maximum daily charge reduced to five pounds and discounts for those on minimum wage - FT - "Manchester congestion charge plan overhauled". Will the next announcement be 100% discounts for all?
    PS Story in the MEN - "Bus fares to be capped if toll is introduced". Not only are they reducing the income from tolls they are now reducing bus fares, building more railways and stations and buying more buses. It seems that the Manchester Trolls have discovered the secret of getting something for nothing. Perhaps they should tell Alistair Darling as he seems to be short of a bob or two!
    PPS On Rochdale Online - "Re-opening of Heywood station part of ammended TIF proposals", in Bolton News - "Station could be in line for improvement", in Crain's - "Proposed maximum congestion charge cut in half", and on BBC - "Changes to city's congestion plan".

    Sunday 26 October 2008
  • More Yes selling by the Government and friends - Another new site - Bolton News - "VIDEO: The future of transport in Greater Manchester". This video has apparently been paid for by MIDAS which is basically a Government agency whose "partners" include AGMA, the GMPTE and the CBI bosses organisation.

    Saturday 25 October 2008
  • Labour MP moves amendment to Road Tolls Bill - The so called "Local Transport Bill" reaches its final stage in the Commons on Monday. Graham Stringer has moved an amendment that would require a proper referendum before such a scheme could go ahead - Amendment 3185 20th October.

  • Views from the Tolls King - Sir Howard who seems to be the driving force behind the road toll scheme had a long interview in Crain's on Tuesday. He was mainly answering the points that had been made about the Stockholm scheme. He said that unlike in Stockholm, the transport spending in Manchester would come first and that "If we don't deliver 80 per cent of public transport works, then we won't be borrowing all the money". In that case there would be a financial disaster, as if the Councils do not deliver on transport, but honour their promise that there will be no tolls till they do, then there will be no road tolls and the Government will want the cash back. Or is the assumption that the road tolls will go ahead come what may?
    Sir Howard also said that he was encouraged by the support from business - "I think people might have been surprised if people had said the North West Business Leadership Team and the CBI were in support". Was Sir Howard really surprised that the big bosses are supporting a scheme that they think will clear the riff raff off the roads?
    He also said that they were looking at exemptions for "medical appointments and .. driving schools".

  • More on "MPs join forces against new charge" - MEN - "MPs in drive to stop road tolls".

    Friday 24 October 2008
  • "MPs join forces against new charge" - Press Association. Note that for some reason the original story on that link was cut down to almost nothing, this is more like the original - Fleetwood News - "MPs join forces to oppose congestion charge".

  • More Yes selling 1 - Another new site - 21st Century Transport. There are now numerous Yes sites, most of them can be traced no further than a marketing firm. But it is likely that these sites are being financed by the authorities. As an example this new site seems to be connected to Manchester Airport Plc which is owned by the authorities.

  • More Yes selling 2 - Lobbying event at House of Commons - Local Gov - "More using trains and buses as credit crunch bites". The story says that this was organised by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, who currently have a Tory chairman who said that the GMPTA would be neutral on this issue!

    Thursday 23 October 2008
  • More on Stockholm - South Manchester Reporter - "Beware the Stockholm syndrome".

  • Lancashire residents to be consulted - How? - Lancashire Evening Post - "Residents given 'say' on congestion charge".

  • Carrots - Bolton News - "Why incentives could cut road congestion" letter.

  • User pays - Bolton News - "We should share transport costs" letter.

  • More on the question - Bury Times - "Congestion charge question revealed"   Middleton Guardian - "The question on everybody's lips ..."   Tameside Advertiser - "C-charge rebel attacks referendum wording"   BBC - "Brown defends congestion question".

  • Bit more on Freight Transport Association says no - Road - "FTA slams Manchester congestion charge proposals".

    Wednesday 22 October 2008
  • Labour MP wants to move the boundary - Oldham Advertiser - "Move the boundary line or face 'No' vote, warns MP".

  • Not really - MEN - "Brown quizzed on congestion charge". This is from today's Hansard -
    Q6. [228608] Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley) (Lab): MPs of all parties are calling for a fair and unbiased question in the referendum on the congestion charge in Greater Manchester. What we are getting is a partial, biased question that does not even mention the congestion charge. Given the current economic circumstances, would it not be better if the unnecessary congestion charge and the divisive referendum were cancelled, and we brought forward to an earlier date investment in the tram system in Greater Manchester?
    The Prime Minister: I know that there are strong views about the issue, but let me just say that the question in the referendum had to be approved legally, and that is what actually happened.

    The PM appears to be badly briefed as the Manchester poll is not a real referendum, and as it is not there are no rules about legally approving the question or anything else. All of this charade is to give people the impression that the process is fair.
    PS This is what the "Transport Referendum" Returning Officer says - David Ottewell blog - "Sir Neil McIntosh responds to Graham Stringer".
    PPS The Yeses accuse the Noes of "attempting to sabotage the referendum" - Rochdale Online - "MP asks Prime Minister to scrap c-charge referendum".

  • Bit more on the question - David Ottewell blog - "Mark Hunter on the TIF referendum question".

  • Yes side say that the Government will pay the toll and small businesses will be quids in - Manchester Confidential - "C-charge will be tax deductable claims pro-TIF lobby". At this rate there will be so many concessions you wonder who it is that is repaying over one billion pounds of borrowing, the interest on that, and the vast cost of collecting and administering it. Come to think of it, they could save more money if they gave 100 per cent exemption to all drivers!

    Tuesday 21 October 2008
  • Another comment from Ray King in MEN (Monday) - "To charge or not to charge? That is the question. Except that when Greater Manchester decides in the December referendum whether to accept congestion charging in return for promised improvements, that won't be the question... (despite) The only reason that the referendum is taking place at all is because the congestion charge element of the package is so controversial".
    Ray also apologises to the "Yes Campaign for suggesting last week that it is being bankrolled by council taxpayer's money". Though Ray wonders where they are getting the money to pay the former head of media at TfL and for advertising space on Metrolink trams and elsewhere and he says "It's a shame that the dividing line between the Yes campaign and the taxpayer-funded promoters of the C-charge and TIF is so muddy...". (The Vote Yes website says that the coalition "represents trade unions, environmental groups, businesses, students, local authorities and voluntary groups across Greater Manchester" but doesn't say where the finance come from.)
    Ray goes on to suggest that the TIF scheme will do nothing to cure the bottleneck in the rail network through Oxford Road station, nothing to give low bus fares and that neither will it provide anything "remotely comparable with the London Underground".

  • Bit more on the question - Manchester Confidential - "The big C-charge/TIF question: beam me up Scotty"   Local Government Chronicle - "C-charge ballot sidelines term".

  • More business views - FT - "Manchester congestion charge divides business"   Crain's - "Collinson returns to Private Sector Partners post".

  • CAN attack Cornflakes - Crain's - "Kelloggs criticised by pro-TIF group". We wonder where CAN got the money to pay for a full page advert in a national paper. It may have come from their supporters (though the CAN website says that "Membership of CAN implies neither fanancial (sic) support nor influence over the content of the manifesto". Some of these members appear to be bodies that may receive financial support from the authorities, though the cost of a one page advert is a drop in the ocean compared with the millions of national and council taxpayers money that has already been spent on promoting this scheme.

    Monday 20 October 2008
  • The question - BBC - "Congestion fee question drafted"   Transport Briefing - "Manchester road pricing referendum question unveiled"   MEN - "C-Charge: The question". We wondered how biased the question would be. It seems that this question is what the Yes campaign wanted as it makes no mention of tolls. The leaflet that will be enclosed with the ballot paper will have "accurate neutral information" - Really? And given that it is likely to be written by the pro tolls people at the GMPTE, would it not be better if the "neutral" leaflet was replaced by a statement produced by each side?
    PS Some reaction in David Ottewell's Blog.
    PPS Reaction from GMMG and a bit on a poll that they commissioned - Crain's - "Congestion charge referendum question reveale".
    PPPS More on David Ottewell's Blog. It is no surprise that the "Yes" campaign are happy with the question and with the "neutral" leaflet. It is almost a clone of what they did in Edinburgh as part of what was widely regarded as a biased process. Here is the debate that took place on the "question" in the Scottish Parliament - 22 Dec 2004 - Debate - Congestion Charging Scheme Referenda
    PPPPS Bit more Community News - "MP Brady slams toll tax referendum wording".

  • New consultation map - The BBC have had an interactive map created, it shows public opinion in each district over whole of North West - Manchester University - "The congestion question: how will it affect you?". The map itself can be found via the BBC Manchester website or directly at - Maptube - "Greater Manchester Congestion Charge - Transport proposals: how will it affect you?".

  • The report by Simon Binns in Crain's where the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce advised Manchester against a con charge - MART - "Don't follow us".

    Friday 17 October 2008
  • Asda price - David Ottewell trails "a couple of opinion pieces for the MEN on the economy and congestion charging" - MEN Blog - "Blogsclusive preview: Adam Marshall". What David does not mention is that the chairman of "Centre for Cities" is Tom Bloxham, one of the cheer leaders for the "Yes" camp, or that our old friend Sir Richard is on the board. There are many other obvious trolls who fund this "charity", though curiously one of them is ADSA.

  • Concerns of Rochdale Lib Dem councillor - from one of the councillors that the Council Leader is ignoring - Rochdale Online - "TIF bid not viable in current economic climate, says Councillor".

    Thursday 16 October 2008
  • A bad sign - A new website has appeared - "Office of the Returning Officer For the Greater Manchester Transport Referendum". This looks ominous, the returning officer is supposed to be independent, but the site refers to a "Transport" referendum whem most people regard the issue as being the road tolls. But worst of all is calling it a "referendum". Legally it will not be a referendum, it will be a "local poll" under Section 116 of the Local Government Act 2003. The law on referendumns is in the "Political Parties, Elections And Referendums Act 2000". That Act has very strict rules which mean that referendums have to be carried out on a fair and neutral basis and without one sided propaganda campaigns. These referendum rules don't apply to a local poll and it is misleading for the official site to refer to the poll as a referendum.

  • One view on the bail-out and the c-charge - South Manchester Reporter - "James Chapman-Kelly".

  • "Get set for C-charge question" - MEN.

  • Rochdale Council Leader puzzle - Middleton Guardian - "Taylor: 'Town will be Toll Tax losers'". Councillor Taylor by supporting road tolls is probably in the minority on Rochdale Council. Despite this it was in Rochdale that the Government minister made the TIF announcement on 9th June. He now seems to be asking questions about what Rochdale will get out of road tolls, no wonder one of the Labour councillors is "bemused".

  • Rochdale Council gags Tories - Rochdale Online - "Lib Dems block 'toll tax' debate". The story says that councillors were told that - "council must provide only neutral information", we must have been dreaming about all those one sided adverts and leaflets from the authorities then.

  • Doubts of Labour MP - Tameside Advertiser - "MP in C-charge vote warning".

    Wednesday 15 October 2008
  • Trafford commerce rebels - the Greater Manchester Chamber has been busy selling the road toll plans, but their Trafford branch has a different view - Crain's - "Trafford business group 'disappointed' with TIF plans".

  • Reply to Bolton Labour Leader's view - (see story on 9th) - Bolton News letter - "Tories will trust people on road charge poll".

  • Stockport Survey - Stockport Express - "Congestion survey gets green light".

  • Mystery tour - Bolton News letter - "How certain is Lord Smith on travel schemes?". Lord Smith can't be certain about the schemes as they only have provisional approval, and the details of what is in each scheme is in any case secret.

  • Criticism of CAP / anti Toll councillor - MEN - "CAP councillor's attendance row". If being active means promoting terrible ideas like road tolls, then perhaps people would prefer their councillors to leave things as they are. But it is a pity that the councillor did not go to the Congestion charge meeting, even though the pro road tolls Salford Labour councillors may not have listened to him.

    Tuesday 14 October 2008
  • Rochdale's Lib Dem Council Leader denies that he does not support road tolls - Rochdale Online - "Council Leader remains behind TIF bid despite Labour claims".

  • Big bosses back tolls PS - David Ottewell has been given a copy of the CBI submission to the "consultation", but what he has published as the backing (qualified) for congestion charging - MEN - "Congestion charge: CBI exclusive" refers to businesses surveyed supporting transport improvements and does not say what businesses thought about the charges. The CBI have not published the results of the survey that they carried out on the Manchester TIF proposal so we don't know what was asked or what the answers were.

  • GMMG reaction to the Stockholm report - Crain's - "Anti-TIF group: We have serious concerns about operating costs". The toll bosses say that Manchester will be different, but they have refused to reveal all the details of the TIF bid on "commercial" grounds.

  • Manchester Toll boss criticises Tory MP - Community News - "Manchester council chief slams Brady's toll tax criticism". Sir Howard says that compared with London only one in 20 people in Manchester will pay the charge. Is this comparison before or after the doubling of the London charge area? And how many people in Manchester will eventually have to pay?

  • Warrington worries - Warrington Guardian - "Town must benefit from congestion charging".

  • Stockholm view - We have not seen any details but Crain's magazine apparently has a report where Stockholm Chamber of Commerce advises Manchester against a con charge. This is surpising as though the Chanber opposed the trials in 2006 it has been silent since. The Stockholm scheme.

  • Comment from Ray King in yesterday's MEN - "I won't have to pay the congestion charge when I go shopping" says .. the full page advertisement in my local paper... Similar posters gloat down from bill boards across the city, urging us to "Vote Yes" .. "Nine out of Ten people won't pay - will you?" goes the Yes campaign's mantra..... As a matter of fact the lady in the advertisement is telling a bit of a porky. She may not end up personally paying the congestion charge but she - like the rest of Greater Manchester's taxpayers - are currently forking out at least £1m so that the Yes campaign can try to convince us that lemmings are highly intelligent creatures who've just had a bad press all these years.

  • Big bosses back tolls - MEN - "CBI backs c-charge". Hardly a surprise given their track record and the billions that the Government is "lending" them.
    We reported on the 30th September that "Pro.Manchester" had a ballot of businesses at a congestion charge lunch but would not release the results. This week the group have a letter in Crain's defending their decision not to release the result. They say members do not have enough information to make an "informed decision". No prizes for guessing what an informed decision is.

    Monday 13 October 2008
  • One of the real causes of congestion - inadequate spending on road improvements such as by-passes - Stockport Express last week - views of people from Disley on the A6 congestion and the congestion charge.

  • FTA says no - the Freight Transport Association which represents railways as well as road haulage is usually a bit ambivalent on tolls, but not with the Manchester C-charge - Press release - "Congestion charge could damage region's economic future".

  • Driver's Alliance says no - the new organisation set up by Peter Roberts now has some pages on the Manchester plans - Driver's Alliance.

    Saturday 11 October 2008
  • Web campaign - Bury Times - "Road campaign turns to the web". Isn't it strange how most of the papers report what the "yes" pro tolls side are doing, but don't mention the "noes"?

  • Tolls spokesman pleased with "Consultation" response - Bolton News - "Road charge consultation is hailed a success".

    Friday 10 October 2008
  • "Consultation" ends - BBC - "Road charge consultation ends"   MEN - "C-charge consultation last day".

    Thursday 9 October 2008
  • Toll Lord's view - Bolton News - "Have your say in transport referendum". Lord Smith says - "A public referendum will be overseen by Sir Neil McIntosh - an Electoral Commissioner for Scotland - to give people a direct say." The reality is that it is a "local poll", not a referendum. A referendum has to be conducted fairly between the two sides, with a local poll there are no rules and it is not clear what difference the involvement of Sir Neil will make.

  • Bolton Labour Leader's view - Bolton News - "I'll trust people on road toll vote". Is it correct that "nationally, the Conservatives have committed themselves to road pricing"? Is it also correct that "We therefore backed a referendum from the start". It makes you wonder why MART went to a great deal of trouble to get Bolton to agree to a poll.

  • Toll debate in Didsbury - South Manchester Reporter - "C-Charge showdown".

  • Effect on outside commuters - Buxton Advertiser - "We'll be city's poor relation".

  • Bus use is up already - Crain's - "One in 12 motorists have ditched their cars, says Stagecoach". The bus companies will be looking forward to even bigger profits if the tolls scheme goes ahead.

    Wednesday 8 October 2008
  • Business School Boss says tolls will bring £10 billion to Manchester - Rochdale Online - "Manchester Professor says TIF will bring £10billion". We wonder why he thinks that all this business will be attracted despite the tolls? Is it that he earns so much that he does not realise how other people and businesses will be affected?

  • Manchester is 8th best place for commuting - Telegraph on 2nd - "Birmingham worst place for commuting - survey". Thanks to Peter for pointing out Manchester's position - before tolls. The position of Birmingham in the table will be because of the M6 Toll road - if this had been built without tolls it would have soaked up most of the through traffic, but with tolls it is almost empty.

  • Views of Lib Dem Stockport Council Leader - Stockport Express - "Lies? Council leader blasts 'Yes' campaign"   Bolton News letter - "Congestion charge details don't add up"   Crain's Monday - "Council leader accuses pro-TIF lobby of 'misinformation'"   Rochdale Online Monday - "Council leader hits out at TIF proposals".

  • Tory MP attacks Con - Community News - "Manchester must learn from London's toll tax mistakes - Brady".

  • From the pro tolls spokeswoman via the official pro tolls paper - MEN Tuesday - "C-charge campaigner hits out".

  • Toll bosses face the enemy - MEN Tuesday - "Ads fuel transport row".

  • Tolls will create 10,000 jobs - All toll collectors? - Rochdale Online Monday - "Report claims transport investment will bring 10,000 jobs".

  • Back who's vote? - Bury Times Saturday - "We'll back public vote vow Town Hall bosses". Bury and the other councils have agreed that they will accept the overall vote, providing that the scheme is not rejected by the voters of at least seven councils. They will apparently do this even if their own residents vote no.

    Saturday 4 October 2008
  • Cornflake in the wind - BBC - "Kellogg's defends C-charge e-mail"   MEN - "Kellog's C-charge email slammed".

  • Letter about subsidy to transport companies - Bolton News - "No dividend from transport charges".

  • View from New Civil Engineer mag on Ruth Kelly quitting - "The Great Escape".

    Friday 3 October 2008
  • Ruth to go completely - MEN - "Ruth Kelly to quit as MP".

  • Tolls save lives (135 of them) - Rochdale Online - "Congestion charge to 'save lives'".

  • More on FSB and hidden costs - MEN - "Pro-charge adverts `mislead voters'".

    Thursday 2 October 2008
  • "Rochdale says 'No' to congestion charging" - Rochdale Online.

  • "Small-business group: C-charge has hidden costs" - Crain's.

  • Londoner leads the official pro Tolls lobby - PR Week - "Ex-TfL man resurfaces". From other sources it seems that he is the son of Glenda Jackson

  • Don't Worry - A Lib Dem MP who supports tolls is concerned about some of the side effects, but a "TIF spokesman" says that they will deal with the side effects by making streets one way, creating dead ends, and introducing parking permits for residents - Salford Advertiser.

  • Tourists love tolls - according to a body funded by Manchester Council - Crain's - "Visit Manchester: TIF bid needs access card".

    Wednesday 1 October 2008
  • "Flagship Congestion Charge is sinking" - from Stockport Times.

  • Confirmed that Tories will keep tolls - New Civil Engineer - "Tories back down over TIF".

    Tuesday 30 September 2008
  • What Eric says - Crain's - "Manchester will reject congestion charge, says Tory shadow minister".

  • What did Teresa say? - further to David Ottewell's blog yesterday - Rochdale Online - "Tory plans put town centre Metrolink in jeopardy".

  • Question from Driver - This letter from Ruth in Irlam was published yesterday in MEN - "I visited the congestion charge .. road show. I kept asking how we are going to be charged and how much we will have to pay for the tagging device, but no one could answer the question. How do you expect me to support something when I don't know how they are going to charge and how much we are supposed to pay for this device? After much badgering I was told the cost could be around £200 plus with an annual rental fee of perhaps another £50. Just where do these silly people get these figures from? Richard Leese might earn a huge salary but I don't and I certainly cannot afford current level of bus and train fares, never mind what they will cost what the charge comes in."
    The charges quoted from the road show are on the high side for RFID transponders, which are sometimes given away free. Perhaps the charges assume that there will be satellite tracking?

  • Question from Tory MP - Community News - "Who will pay off 'toll tax' loans?". There is also this on Mr Brady's website.

  • Bit more on bosses back toll - Crain's - "NWBLT backing for c-charge 'nearly unanimous'". You may wonder who the NWBLT are. Having looked at their website the impression is that it is another of these groups with links to Government agencies, though one of the people leading on this issue is from BT (so now you know where your phone payments are going to), and according to Crain's the BT man is "chair of the Greater Manchester Commission for Economic Development, Employment & Skills, a new body set up by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities", i.e. the group that is promoting tolls. Another person quoted is from a Japanese owned glass maker.
    PS Crain's yesterday also had a story (not online) which was also the basis for their editorial. The Pro-Manchester business group had a lunch meeting of 150 people on August 15th. There was a ballot on the toll plans. The Pro-Manchester board have now decided that they will not reveal what the result of the ballot was. Did the businessmen vote against the tolls and does not this fit in with the plans of the bureaucracy that runs the city?
    See also "More Tosh" on the 25th September.

    Monday 29 September 2008
  • Tory Shadow says Tolls will stay - MEN Blog - "Blogsclusive: Tories will accept c-charge vote".

  • More bosses back tolls - MEN Blog - "NWBLT throws weight behind TIF bid".

  • There's No business like No show business - MEN Blog - "C-Charge: who cares?". The numbers add up to 5,000 or 150 at each road show. The real numbers may be even less as some of these few may have been children after free balloons, but as the toll bosses have said that it is only "other" drivers who will pay, why should any drivers show up?
    You can access the various toll ("TIF") reports that AGMA considered last Friday at - Files for AGMA 26th September meeting.

    Sunday 28 September 2008
  • Stating the obvious? - MEN Blog - "C-Charge: keeping up with the Kellys". Ruth Kelly told the BBC on Tuesday that no final decision had been made, if she had told the MEN would they not have reported it as news?
    The really obvious is that with Labour's internal troubles and the financial meltdown, there is nothing that is certain even if those "closely involved in negotiations, on either side" have told David that they don't "expect the rug to be pulled from under AGMA's feet".

  • Doesn't want to pay twice - Bolton News - "Road charge is an unjustified tax".

  • Another invasion of the body snatchers? - MEN - "Real people in c-charge posters".

  • They got mail - Crain's - "GMPTE: 80,000 written responses from TIF consultation".

  • Hospital Toll Poll - Rochdale Online - "Hospital Trust staff vote a resounding 'No' on TIF bid".

    Friday 26 September 2008
  • Bit more on Tolls cheerleader - MEN - "Lis Phelan's new role championing c-charge".

    Thursday 25 September 2008
  • "Yes Campaign names chairwoman" - Crain's.

  • Gordon still backs tolls plan - MEN - "Brown defends Kelly decision".

  • More tosh - MEN - "Pro.manchester wants C-charge facts". This seemingly independent group of bosses seem in fact to be firmly in the tolls camp. The front page of their site has this which seems to have been done in collaboration with the toll bosses - "Congestion charge - Your questions answered" pdf file

    Wednesday 24 September 2008
  • Load of tosh - Manchester Confidential - "Boris wants Manchester's money". This appears to be disinformation from the "Yes" campaign, the chances of the Labour Government giving the TIF money to Boris are less than zero.

  • Ruth to go - MEN - "Ruth Kelly to quit cabinet". There is a bit more on our main news page.

  • Some bits from yesterday's MEN - Views of small businesses and of Ruth Kelly.

  • A view - One of various reports on the confidence of one of the toll knights that he will sell tolls to the people; this report is from Jim Hancock who is the political editor for North West Tonight - En the Web - "Political Traffic".

  • Alternatives - Road Transport - "Manchester congestion charge alternatives mooted".

  • A bit on the worst show in town - Wigan Evening Post - "C-charge roadshow rolls into town".

    Tuesday 23 September 2008
  • Government doubt - BBC - "Road charge vote 'not final say'".

  • It tolls for thee, not for others - one we missed from comment column in Crain's on the 1st - "The sutble art of avoiding the charge".

  • Small Business view - added to FSB website a week ago - "STOP THE CONGESTION CHARGE".

  • It tolls for thee, not for others - one we missed from comment column in Crain's on the 1st - "The sutble art of avoiding the charge".

  • Outside view - Lancashire Telegraph - "'Congestion charge will hit Rossendale' fear".

  • Survey details - On the 19th August, the MEN had an exclusive story giving details of the surveys that had been carried out by the authorities. The full reports (which as an appendix includes the script used by the polling firm) are now available (PDf files) - gmfuturetransport - Survey of 5,000 residents in July   gmfuturetransport - Survey of 1,000 businesses in July / early August.

    Monday 22 September 2008
  • Property effect, or not - Crain's - "C-charge "won't tempt buyers to inner city'".

  • Tolls boss gets award - MEN - "Sir Howard's top regeneration honour".

    Friday 19 September 2008
  • Labour Party Conference demo - One demo is the Federation of Small Businesses against the c-charge plans - MEN - "Campaigners head for city".

  • Claim that the Con means more jobs - BBC - "Congestion charge jobs boost plan ".

    Thursday 18 September 2008
  • "Experts" say "Yes" - Another accountancy group says tolls are good for you - MEN - "Campaign for TIF bid steps up a gear". It is the accountancy groups that allowed the financial house of cards to be built which Governments around the world are now trying to shore up with trillions of our money. Who would listen to these "experts" now?

  • Some Tameside councillors say "No" - Tameside Advertiser - "'Denton gets nothing out of £3bn TIF cash'".

    Wednesday 17 September 2008
  • Voters without a vote - Stockport Express - "Hundreds could miss chance to vote on congestion charge". What the MP and the paper omit to say is that Stockport and the other "No" Councils wanted to delay the vote so that the electoral register which Councils publish in December could be used, but the "Yes" councils refused.

  • Property developer says vote "Yes" for the sake of others - Bury Times - "'Think of the city' - yes campaign man".

    Tuesday 16 September 2008
  • Cyclists fastest - MEN - "Cyclist wins commuter challenge". A novelty that cyclists were obeying the rules of the road, but in any case if it takes 43 minutes to drive 5 miles, then this probably says more about the congestion created by the councils than anything else. The lesson from London is that speeds are as slow now as they were before the charge was introduced in 2003.

  • Tracking - the FT says that "the highest-profile candidate" for the Government's tracking tests is Manchester - "Road pricing plan gathers speed".

    Monday 15 September 2008
  • Spending "plan" - MEN - "The £1.5bn transport timetable". Strange that the toll boses can produce a spending timetable when thay have not answered a Freedom of Information request for details of what it is they are going to do and how much each scheme will cost.

    Saturday 13 September 2008
  • "MPs and councillors should be putting their jobs on the line over this" - Bolton News - letter - "High price to pay for congestion charge".

  • Transport bosses to lobby at party conferences - Rochdale Online - "Public transport on agenda at party conferences".

    Friday 12 September 2008
  • Bribe or blackmail? - Bolton News - letter - "Congestion charge like blackmail".

  • Bit more on new "Yes" group - Bolton News - "'Yes' to road charging group is launched".

    Thursday 11 September 2008
  • New "Yes" group - MEN - "C-charge campaign kicks off". Where has "Clean Air Now" gone?

  • Wobbles - Oldham Advertiser - "Bid to move C-Charge boundary".

    Wednesday 10 September 2008
  • More tolls selling - Bolton News 9th - "Yellow bus is 'future' of school run"   Rochdale Online 8th - "Council leader urges people to vote in C-charge referendum"   Bolton News 6th - "Transport deal cannot be split into pieces"   Bolton News 4th - "Transport cash is far from a bribe".

  • Hauliers and the toll - from "Keep up the Manchester CC fight, says RHA" 3rd   "HGVs will have to pay Manchester congestion charge" 2nd.

  • Labour MP opposes toll - Tameside Advertiser 3rd - "MP in c-charge rebellion".

  • Other stories - Bolton News 8th - "Volunteer groups assess congestion charge impact"   Manchester Confidential 3rd - "Building sites to become car parks" includes comments.

    Monday 1 September 2008
  • Drivers stuck in jams - MEN - "Drivers in a jam '10 minutes a day'". The story says that 70 per cent of drivers are stuck in jams each day - Is that why the authorities wants to bring in road tolls which it is claimed will only affect 10 per cent of drivers?

  • Driving schools affected - Crain's - "Toll "will cost driving schools up to £600k".

    Saturday 30 August 2008
  • "Referendum" date set - The AGMA meeting on Friday decided that the local poll voting forms will be sent out at the beginning of December with a closing date of the 11th of the month for their return. The councils who opppose tolls had suggested that the poll should take place in Januray or February - BBC - "Date set for C-charge referendum"   MEN - "Date set for c-charge vote".

    Thursday 28 August 2008
  • Border troubles - South Manchester Reporter - "Road toll will 'split communities in half'".

  • Bit more on Tolls survey - Bury Times - "Give your view on congestion charge"   Tameside Advertiser - "'Yes' to C-charge but by tiny majority".

    Wednesday 27 August 2008
  • Price no object if tolls are paying for it - Bolton News - "£25m 'too much' for interchange".

    Tuesday 26 August 2008
  • "Referendum" for businesses - call from Chamber of Commerce who back the tolls plan - MEN - "'Give commerce say on charging'"   David Ottewell Blog - "Congestion charge: a referendum for business?"   Crain's - "AGMA shoots down call for business vote on congestion charge".

  • Another story on falling traffic - MEN - "Fuel costs ease m-way jams".

  • Effect of toll on employment - legal view - Crain's - "C-charge dodgers can't make case for flexible working".

  • "On the Street and Off the Cuff" - includes two c-charge items - Crain's.

  • Bit more on "consultation" - Bury Times - "Have your say on congestion charge".

    Saturday 23 August 2008
  • Business No to tolls survey - MEN - "C-charge poll: The FULL result" (there are more details of the surveys if you click on the link within the story to David Ottewell's blog)   Crain's - "Poll: Businesses not behind TIF package". It seems that the authorities decided to leak the Yes results before the No ones. Though their reply to our Freedom of Information Act request was - "It may take up to 20 working days for the Council to consider your request and to provide a formal response. If this timescale needs to be extended to consider an exemption you will be notified and kept informed." Perhaps we should have asked the MEN and Crain's where they got their information from?

  • "Community Awareness" - a new name for tolls selling - Rochdale Online - "Bid to win congestion charge campaign".

    Thursday 21 August 2008
  • Bit more on Tracking trials - According to Commercial Motor the DfT told them that it "had appointed four IT suppliers to use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology for work on proposals for local congestion charging schemes, including the current scheme in Manchester" - Road

  • Bit more on the "secret" poll saying that People will vote for tolls - Oldham Advertiser - "Oldhamers 'will vote for congestion charge'".

    Wednesday 20 August 2008
  • Bit more on People will vote for tolls - Wigan Evening Post - "Wiganers lead support for C-charge"   Rochdale Online - "Survey suggests Rochdale set to agree to Congestion Charge!". Yesterday we put in a Freedom of Information Act request for the information that has been selectively given to the press - we wonder whether we will get the details this side of the toll poll?

    Tuesday 19 August 2008
  • More of Sir Howard attacking small businesses who said no - Rochdale Online - "Congestion-charge boss hits out at business group".

  • People will vote for tolls - MEN - "53pc 'support for road charge'". We wonder who it was that paid for this "secret" poll of 5,000 people - could it be the GMPTA? We also wonder when this poll was carried out.
    The MEN say that their own polls give the same result as the "secret" one, though on the 27th June the BBC published the result of a poll that they had done which showed 62% of the 1,000 people surveyed were opposed to the scheme. On the 8th August the Wigan Evening Post also published results of a survey they had done which showed that 78% opposed the plans. If the latest figures are correct it seems that either the toll bosses have had a very successful spin campaign or that the people who asked the questions in the latest survey were working to a script designed to get the "right" answers.
    PS David Ottewell in his Blog gives some of the figures including graphs presumably from the authorities - MEN - "C-charge poll data: exclusive".

  • Transport authorities to spend another £2 million on spin - How Do - "GMPTE looks to recruit agencies for £2m roster ahead of congestion charge plans".

    Monday 18 August 2008
  • Letter from Wigan Independent councillor - Wigan Evening Post - "Effort to counter C-charge propaganda welcome".

  • Tracking trials - MEN - "C-charge: Tech trials go ahead". They have missed Manchester from the trials. Who do they think they are kidding?
    David Ottewell got a quote from the DfT denying that they have any plans for road pricing - MEN Blog - "National road pricing: green light, red light...". Is this April Fool?

    Saturday 16 August 2008
  • More of the same - Bury Times - "Congestion charge: 90 per cent won't pay".

    Friday 15 August 2008
  • Sir Howard attacks small businesses who said no - MEN - "Sir Howard's disappointment at FSB".

    Wednesday 13 August 2008
  • Small businesses say no - MEN - "FSB's opposition to C-Charge". This will not be welcome news for the Lords and knights of tolls as they know that it will be difficult to wield their influence over these businesses.

    Tuesday 12 August 2008
  • Freedom of Information - An FoI request from David Ottewell refused - MEN - "Information highway: closed to oncoming traffic". A strange game Freedom of Information and one that the authorities are expert at.
    Over a year ago we made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Government, as we wanted to see the TIF submission. The request was refused and we are still waiting to hear the reults of our appeal to the Information Commissioner. We were therefore surprised when on the 31st July, the MEN had a story saying that the GMPTA had released the information and implying that it was because of a Freedom of Information Act request. We asked the GMPTA which organisation had made the request and when the information was released. We got an answer today, which was that there had not been a request. Oddly we are still waiting to hear the results of our appeal against the Government refusal to release the information which has apparently in the meantime been released by the GMPTA. Or has it? Because at the moment we don't really know whether some part of the submission has been held back.
    We also have another FoI request which was made at the end of June this year where we asked for details of the schemes that were in the DfT TIF approval letter sent in June to Lord Smith and Sir Howard. So far all that has happened is that the DfT have said that they need more time to consider whether to release the details or not.

  • Go by cab - MEN - "Council's`£1m-a-year taxi bill'". We thought that the taxis would not have to pay the tolls because the Councils realised that cab drivers are well organised and militant, but it seems that the councils may also be one of the cab firms best customers, particularly if you add in the taxi bills for the other nine councils and all the quangos.

  • Traffic going in circles - MEN - "Slowest traffic outside London". One odd thing about this story is that the MEN and the other toll advocates seem to have access to figures that are so "new" that they have not been published by the DfT. But if the report is accurate it is also odd that they draw attention to London having the slowest traffic when it introduced the Con in 2003.

  • Lord Smith complaining again - MEN - "Proposed business rate increase irks C-charge backers".

    Monday 11 August 2008
  • Don't worry, it will be the other driver who has to pay - MEN - "C-charge: Only 10% will pay". Lord Smith of Tolls talks about "Unscrupulous critics", that's odd we thought it was them who were spending millions of our money on their spin campaign. People will not believe that the authorities are going to be spending billions but it is only the other gal and guy who will get the bill.

  • Fliers back road tolls - MEN - "Aviation players back c-charge". Generally those connected with the airline and airport industry don't like tolls, so this enthusiasm to back Manchester's road tolls plan will not be unconnected with the fact that the authorities own and control the airport.

    Friday 8 August 2008
  • Survey - Carried out for the Wigan Evening Post - "Motorists slam congestion charge" (click on the next page link to see the survey results). Sir Howard says - "Any survey which asks 'Do you support congestion charging' is bound to generate a negative response." Very astute of him, no doubt as the main advocate of the plan he will do his best to try and get a different question on tne ballot paper, perhaps "Are bananas yellow?". If you look at the answers to the individual questions, which show the effects on shopping and work, it makes you wonder why any business would be so foolhardy as to back the plans.
    The Lancashire Evening Post did a similar survey - "Congestion charge plan proves unpopular".

  • Stockport views - Yesterday's Stockport Express had its regular section on views of the three loacl party leaders. This week two of them wrote about the Big Con. The Lib Dem and Council Leader - Dave Goddard - referred to the proposed ballot of Greater Manchester residents and said that "I will stand by - and support at AGMA - the decision of the people of Stockport" and pointed out that Stockport had already had its own survey of opinion, which showed that most people and businesses were against the charge.
    Philip Harding, the Labour leader said that the TIF bid "is dead in the water". He said that he opposes it because Stockport would see little benefit, and that Stockport might be landed with a lot of debt as he doubted whether the scheme would make a profit. He also said that "now is not the time to ask people to pay more to travel to work".

    Thursday 7 August 2008
  • Déjà vu - the MEN story from Monday again - South Manchester Reporter - "C-Charge is good for your health". The story says that "every piece" of "independent" research shows how wonderful the tolls would be, presumably "independent" means favouring tolls.

  • Much ado - GMMG has come up with a few other ways of paying for transport spending and angered the tollers - MEN - "Congestion charge row worsens".

    Wednesday 6 August 2008
  • "Tolls are good for you" report now available - United City - "Congestion Charging, Transport Improvements and Manchester" pdf file.
    PS It has been pointed out that someone with the same name as the report's author stood as a Labour party candidate in this May's local election in Manchester - and lost.

  • Toll pushers complain about their propaganda being compared with Nazis - Stockport Express - "Nazi comment is 'unacceptable'".

  • What! No free lollipops and balloons? - MEN - "Road charge roadshow under way".

    Monday 4 August 2008
  • Wigan Tory complains about gift vouchers - Wigan Evening Post - "Councillor angry at £30 voucher offer". The really strange thing is that they were apparently encouraging a toll opponent to attend a meeting, or are those toll opponents who attend never seen again!!!!

  • Tolls are good for you - A lecturer in urban history has produced a "research" paper for the toll advocates which says that tolls will be great for Manchester - MEN - "C-charge 'good for us'".

    Sunday 3 August 2008
  • More plugs - Perhaps the toll advocates don't need their multi million advertising budget as many of the papers seem to be giving free space to Sir Howard - Northwich Guardian - "Congestion charge could benefit mid Cheshire railways".

    Saturday 2 August 2008
  • New Forum - The main MART website has been having a makeover, part of this is a discussion forum which was launched this week - MART Forum.

  • More selling the toll - At Rochdale it seems that it takes "up to" an hour to travel 5 miles. The answer is not better roads and roads management, it is tolls - Rochdale Observer - "Five miles takes 1 hour".

    Friday 1 August 2008
  • Congestion confusion - Bolton News - "Congestion charge would not affect 50pc of drivers"   Bury Times - "Council leader backs c-charge referendum" Best quote is from Sir Richard "very few .. will ever pay" tolls.

  • Quangos back tolls - One advantage that the Government and authorities have is that they fund and control various agencies that can give the misleading impression that they are independent - MEN - "Metrolink's '3,200 new jobs'"   England's North West - "Traffic figures 'support case for c-charge'".

    Thursday 31 July 2008
  • Tolls boss says "I am in favour of a referendum and have been all along" - Salford Advertiser - "Referendum to come at a cost?". He certainly kept that secret well! Though this will not be a fair referendum, but a poll with the people subjected to a massive sales campaign funded by the taxpayer.

  • Toll misses most of the congestion - MEN - "Charge to miss key congestion". One odd thing about this story is that for the past year we have been seeking a copy of the TIF submission, we were refused and our appeal is with the information Commissioner. We have still not seen anything but this story says that the info "has been released under the Freedom of Information act" It seems that the information is now on the GMPTA website and that the MEN have had access to it for long enough to research this story.

  • Station for sale, but don't ask the price - Oldham Advertiser - "It's in your hands". The spin bosses seem to be succeeding in giving the idea that the proposed poll will be fair. This story says that "the Electoral Reform Society is being commissioned to conduct the referendum and to approve the question that will be asked." This is wrong. It is not a referendum and the Electoral Reform Society will not approve the question, all that will happen is that their commercial arm (Electoral Reform Services) will send out the poll papers and do the counting.

    Wednesday 30 July 2008
  • Complaint by ousted tolls boss - Manchester Evening News - "Ex-transport boss quizzed by police".

  • Views of Tolls Lord - Wigan Evening News - "Poor are hit hardest". Though Lord Smith is a big tolls fan he ressures voters that there are "no plans to introduce charging in Wigan or anywhere else for that matter". This is very reassuring, not only for people in his own bailiwick, but for all those people in Greater Manchester who mistakenly thought that there were plans for c-charges!

  • Rochdale and the Poll - selling the toll - Rochdale Observer - "Referendum can put brakes on congestion toll", and sceptical - Rochdale Online - "66.5% of Rochdale Borough has access to a car".

    Tuesday 29 July 2008
  • "Independent" business view - MEN - "Chamber view: Undecided on c-charge". The Chamber says it "is not part of the council, GMPTE or Greater Manchester Future Transport". Quite correct, but many people will have been confused because over the last year the Chamber apparatus has been acting as if it was an integral part of the tolls sales team.

  • Tolls Boss to send out weekly "consultation" emails - Rochdale Online - "Bernstein launches weekly TIF bid email bulletins".

    Monday 28 July 2008
  • Facebook advertising and groups - Crain's - "More than 20,000 join Facebook c-charge groups".

    Saturday 26 July 2008
  • More on Toll Poll - MEN - "Campaigners gear up for vote"   Wigan Evening News - "Congestion charge voting agreed"   Crain's - "AGMA to hold referendum on TIF package". Note that the WEP's reference to "the first time the whole of Greater Manchester has voted in a single referendum since the 1975 "yes" vote to stay in the European Community" is not correct as this will not be a referendum but a local poll. The difference is not just in the name as a referendum has to be fair and binding, but there are no rules for the conduct of a local poll.

    Friday 25 July 2008
  • Reddish MP complains that "Referendum will produce 'no' vote" - Stockport Express - "Willson: C-charge is flawed". As the people in his own area are opposed to road tolls, it is odd that he wants their wishes to be ignored.

  • AGMA meeting today on Toll Poll - BBC - "Public to decide C-charge future"   Oldham Advertiser - "C-charge: public to vote"   BBC - "Public to decide on C-charge" video clip.
    The AGMA decision was that a "referendum" was agreed in principle but the wording of the question and many other matters were deferred for consideration at another AGMA meeting.
    The Toll Poll will be a postal one with the voting papers going out about the end of November and the final deadline for return about mid December with the result being announced very soon after.
    As well as getting an overall Greater Manchester wide majority in the Toll Poll, it was agreed that there should be a further hurdle of individual borough counts with the people in at least seven out of the ten councils needing to vote "yes". This was put forward by Sue Williams, the Tory Leader of Trafford Council and seconded by Dave Goddard, the Lib Dem Leader of Stockport Council.
    The NAAT put out this press release - Any sort of vote is considerably better than the scheme being bulldozed through by the authorities. But what will take place is a Section 116 "local poll". These polls are not subject to any rules and it means that the authorities can continue to spend millions on their promotion campaign. It is completely misleading for them to give the impression that this will be a fair and unbiased referendum with both sides being treated the same, though we expect that as in Edinburgh the majority of people will see through the glossy brochures from the authorities and the TV ads.

    The condition that the result of the Toll Poll will be mainly based on a Greater Manchester wide count, is a device to force the people of Bury, Stockport and Trafford to accept tolls on their roads. It may be that the people of all ten districts will vote the same way in the Toll Poll, but if not then it will be very strange for a district to ignore the vote of its own residents.
  • Report before the meeting - MEN - "Public to decide C-charge future". There was a report on BBC but irt was revised after the meeting.

  • Ex Top Gear man says No - MEN - "Willson: C-charge is flawed".

    Thursday 24 July 2008
  • Rochdale Vote - Rochdale Labour wanted a fundamental review of the road tolls scheme, but at a Council meeting last night their proposal was defeated by the ruling Lib Dems. The Tories seem to have sided with the Lib Dems, though the Tories say that they want a district by district "referendum" - Rochdale Online - "Opposition to congestion charging crumbles at Council meeting".

  • More selling the Con - South Manchester Reporter - "Future mapped out".

  • More "businesses" join the trolls - One of these "businesses" is the "Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust". They are of course funded by the taxpayer and you would think that they had better things to do, but it seems not - Crain's - "PZ Cussons backs congestion charging plans".

  • Fuel prices plummet - Not really, but it seems that the tolls boss believes that the recent small reduction in fuel prices heralds a new era where drivers will be rushing out on to the streets and driving round till they drop with exhaustion - Crain's - "Falling fuel prices 'bad news for C-charge opponents'".

  • "C-charge: Lewis ups the ante" - David Ottewell Blog. An odd little piece, perhaps meant to make Bury, Stockport and Trafford feel a bit sheepish if they don't follow the orders from Sir Richard.

  • Question? - Manchester Confidential - "Congestion charging: white elephant or utopia?". The real question is how do the trolls manage to get so much of their views printed as if they are impartial. How could anyone do research into the London Con and yet apparently not know that the traffic is as slow as it ever was?

  • Zombie scheme - Stockport Express - "Congestion is 'dead in the water' claim". Let's hope that the Stockport Lib Dem Leader does not yield to pressure to let other districts determine whether Stockport has road tolls.

  • "Group says public vote on TIF bid may not be binding" - Crain's. Our main concern is not that the vote will not be binding. It is that the poll is likly to be biased and unfair, and it is just a device to force all the Councils to take part in the scheme.

    Tuesday 22 July 2008
  • A bit of reeducation - MEN - "IoD hears from Sir Howard on c-charge".

    Monday 21 July 2008
  • Traffic increasing - That's what the Manchester trolls would like you to believe. Though recently it is not what they have been saying. They have possibly stopped saying it, because it is easier to mislead people in other ways. It is difficult to claim that traffic is increasing when almost every report shows that it is not, in particular their own people are telling them it ain't so. The figures are in their Greater Manchester Transportation Unit figures which shows that traffic has been flat or declining since 1997 (the year that they started collecting the main centre traffic figures) - 2007 Report published in June 2008 showing traffic entering the main centres   2007 Report published in June 2008 showing traffic on the different types of road. There is one exception to this trend which is motorways, where traffic is up.
    So why does traffic seem to be slower, if it is down except on the motorways? The answer is that the people who want to toll drivers are the same ones who do their damnedst to slow and stop traffic.

  • Impartial? - One MEN reader wrote to the Editor saying - "I currently buy your paper every day mainly for the soccer but if you continue to support something that will harm your readers then I will stop reading it and ask others to boycott it."
    Surprisingly there was an answer which included - "... you can be sure that the paper will continue to report impartially both sides of the argument." The rest of the letter reads as if it was a tolls sales promotion and ends up saying that the paper supports a referendum providing that "the result is binding on all 10 authorities". It is difficult to distinguish between what the MEN says and what comes out from Sir Howard and Sir Richard. If the MEN thinks that this is being impartial, then perhaps the MEN Editor should look up the definition in a dictionary - "not supporting any of the sides involved in an argument".

  • "Epidemic of u-turns" - Crain's - "On the Street and Off the Cuff".

  • Flying One - Sir Richard goes to Stockholm, (is Singapore next?) - MEN - "Council leader has planes bill of £3,400".

  • Flying Two - Airport boss thinks that Con is a good idea - Crain's - "Other Views: Airport sale would be short-sighted". A story in another paper today says that this boss is favourite to be the new boss of the North West Development Agency - a Government Quango.

    Saturday 19 July 2008
  • Hanging - Bury Times - "Railway revamp hangs on congestion vote". How about better hospitals, schools, the secret to eternal life or whatever hanging on more money being taken from drivers?

  • Another demo - Maria who two weeks ago was annoying Sir Richard with her demonstration outside the Town Hall, was down at Westminster this week to see her MP and to hold another demonstration. This was covered in the Prestwich Advertiser but has been omitted from their website.

    Friday 18 July 2008
  • Traffic figures - MEN - "Traffic levels NOT soaring". Interesting that the MEN should dig this out and publish it. Though it only confirms previous indications that traffic has not been increasing in recent years. Congestion is mainly caused by the Councils war on drivers.

  • Independent? - Crain's - "Businesses to help choose TIF regulator". The odds are that any regulator will just be a stooge.

  • It's the Chief Tolls Salesman again - Lancashire Evening Post - "Congestion charging to hit Lancashire drivers".

    Thursday 17 July 2008
  • Tag problems - Salford Advertiser - "London rejected tag scheme". What this story does not reveal is that tags are not completely reliable, with the result that drivers end up with big fines for not paying.

  • "Prescott backs congestion charge" - Rochdale Online. This may be one recommendation that the toll bosses did not want.

  • Hauliers do not want toll at any price - Road Transport - "Manchester c-charge for HGVs".

  • The Toll Tax Boss again - Middleton Guardian - "The Toll Tax debate".

    Wednesday 16 July 2008
  • "Low paid will benefit" - According to Lord Smith head of the Troll Ring - Crain's - "AGMA: C-charge will help low-paid workers". One of the benefits will be a 20 per cent discount off the new toll tax - we wonder who pays the other 80 per cent? Though for some workers there may not be a problem, as the new tax may mean that they only have to travel to the nearest dole office.

    Tuesday 15 July 2008
  • Chiefs parking parked - MEN - "U-turn over council car park". Turn and turn again later? Whatever the answer to that question, it is already clear that the drivers who are to be forced off the road do not include the council bosses.

  • Q and A -
    Question to the transport bosses from Simone-
    I saw the new TV advertisement for the congestion tax with Chris Bisson - he happened to be getting out of a car stuck in a traffic jam. Where is the balance in that? Who is paying for these shameful adverts?
    Why doesn't it show Chris walking two miles to his nearest tramstop in the pouring rain having missed seeing his kids because he had to get up 1 hour earlier to get to work? Maybe they could have shown a single woman weighed down with bags coming from the Trafford Centre, getting on a bus to Wigan? I'm amazed his management want him to be associated with such a politically sensitive advert.
    Are some counter ads from toll opponents going to be commissioned or do we just get (not even subtle) political propaganda masquerading as public information?
    This isn't consultation it's shameful biased propaganda.
    My reasons for opposing this shameful piece of proposed legislation are:
    # It is an unacceptable infringement on my right to use the highway.(David Davies please note)
    # It is another step to Big Brother as my personal car movements will be monitored (David Davies please note)
    # It is not necessary as traffic is not that bad in Manchester. Londoners would love our journey times.
    # It covers an area far bigger than any precedent in the UK.
    # It splits families up as people may be charged for visiting relatives, children etc.
    # I will be charged for picking my son up from school when he does after school activities and there are no buses.
    Why should I pay a tax for something I won't benefit from?
    Why can't the government give us the £1.2b?
    Public transport is not an alternative to my getting to work as it would add an hour to my journey time.
    Why is a new tax, the government solution to everything?

    Answer from the transport bosses-
    Dear Simone,
    These are the answers to your questions.

    Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) is running the consultation. The costs of TV ads are met jointly by GMPTE and the Department for Transport (DfT).

    No further advertisements are planned. GMPTE is currently running a 14 week consultation on the proposals. The adverts were screened before the consultation began to make sure that as many people as possible know that the consultation was happening and what the consultation is about. OFCOMM have very tight guidelines on what can be advertised in broadcast media, you will note for instance that the adverts do not mention words such as improvement or better - simply more - in the context of public transport. The adverts were not even permitted to mention the amount of money available for investment - up to £3billion - for fear that they may be seen to be influencing.
    Further material is focused on three main areas, why the package of measures is being proposed (information about congestion and public transport in Manchester, why congestion is a problem and future projections about congestion and the economy), what is being proposed (the Greater Manchester congestion charge is a very sophisticated system and is being supported by up to £3 billion of public transport across a large area so it is important that people know the detail) and how it will be delivered (the relationship between GMPTE, and the Department for Transport, how the scheme will be funded and managed, and the costs of the different elements of the scheme).
    This is a very important time for Greater Manchester and we want to hear the views of as many people as possible. We also want to ensure that people have as much information as is possible about the scheme so that they can make an informed contribution.

    Under the TIF package, up to £3 billion of funding will be available for transport improvements in Greater Manchester. This comprises Government grants of £1.5 billion, £1.2 billion of local funding supported by future revenue from a weekday peak-time only congestion charge and £0.1 billion of local third party contributions. The DfT has also confirmed that it will fund extra railway rolling stock for the city region, supporting more than 7,000 extra passengers at peak times. We cannot access this funding without congestion charging. DfT has made clear that "demand management" i.e. a congestion charge or simpler mechanism for discouraging car use must be part of the package.
    As part of developing these proposals, AGMA and GMPTA looked at alternative funding methods. None of these methods would provide the investment possible under TIF. This information is available in Information Pack Document 1 - Why the Transport Innovation Fund, which can be downloaded from the GM Future Transport website. (The GMPTE do not make it easy to find the document - here is a direct link.)

    The funny thing is that the transport bosses may believe that they are being fair. What other delusions are they suffering from?

    Monday 14 July 2008
  • Have your say - Public Consultation Response forms. They will not pay any attention, but they may report to Council bosses what was said.

  • Apathy rules - MEN - "Poor show for c-charge meeting". The poor turnout is similar to the "yellow bus tour" last summer, where it was mainly the hired help who turned up. The apparent lack of interest may suit the authorities.

  • More suckers - Crain's - "Hotels, pubs and clubs associations join pro-TIF lobby".

    Saturday 12 July 2008
  • FOR and against - Bolton News - "Congestion charge is the only way, businesses told".

  • Bolton does not want a Mayoral referendum - Bolton News - "Bolton councillors say 'no' to elected mayor". The solution is simple, if there is a referendum where the people of Bolton can decide on the tolls issue, then there will not be a Mayoral referendum.

    Friday 11 July 2008
  • Police set on Peel - MEN - "Police probe Peel over election"   MEN - "Peel Holdings statement". In Edinburgh nearly all the businesses were afraid to voice their opposition to the Con. We hope that this police involvement following complaints from the politicians does not intimidate other Manchester businesses to remain silent.

  • Two to One - Manchester Confidential - "Three leaders speak on Congestion Charging". One pcianfor and one against, and one of the people who is pulling the strings.

    Thursday 10 July 2008
  • Big Toll chief comes to Salford and explains about 80% - Lord Smith, chief of the Wigan Labour fiefdom and leading proponent of tolls explains that when they said that transport improvements would be in place before tolls kicked in, they did not mean all of them - Salford Advertiser - "Metrolink upgrade fails 2013 deadline".

  • Fallout from the Mayoral Referendum - Bury Times - "Mayoral 'no' vote: the aftermath".

  • "Beware the big 'congestion con'" - Letter in Wigan Observer.

  • The principal toll boss again - The Rochdale Council boss says that the outer ring (M60) should be moved further in - Tameside Advertiser - "C-charge questions answered".

  • Third ring - Community News - "Brady slams third toll tax ring idea". This report is based on what the MP said in the Commons last week. In reply "a spokesman for the TIF" says - "There are no plans for a third ring or for a charging in any of the district centres". These may not be in the present phase one plan, but charging outside the M60 was in the original scheme and once they have their foot in the door....

  • Second ring - The Rochdale Council boss says that the outer ring (M60) should be moved further in - Middleton Guardian - "Council boss bid to change C-zones".

    Wednesday 9 July 2008
  • "Sir Richard Leese replies to Graham Stringer on Congestion Charging" - Manchester Confidential.

  • David Ottewell suggests a trick - MEN Blog - "To £10-a-day or not to £10-a-day...". The £10 is most unlikely to have been put forward as a position that they intend to abandon. They may do so, but every concession makes it even more implausible that they will generate enough income, it also makes those who are left to pick up the tab even more aggrieved.

    Tuesday 8 July 2008
  • More on "figures" and "consultation" - Rochdale Online - "C-charge consultation begins".

  • More on - another Campaign against the congestion charge - Wigan Evening Post - "Protesters launch road charge campaign".

  • The main Toll Boss reveals all to Manchester Confidential - "Exclusive: Sir Howard Bernstein talks Congestion Charging".

  • One person's view on another of the toll bosses - Wigan Evening Post - "Finding out opinion on charges is not a waste".

  • Toll bosses buy off opposition from private hire operators - MEN - "ALL cabs escape C-charge".

    Monday 7 July 2008
  • Another "Campaign against the congestion charge" - Leigh Journal.

  • Some figures revealed - The authorities appear to have given some figures out to the press - Crain's - "£C-charge opponents: £30m running costs is too low"   BBC - "£318m to bring in c-charge"   Crain's - "C-charge to turn £143m profit each year"   Bolton News - "£318m - the cost of setting up the congestion charge".

  • Consultation begins - BBC - "Road charge consultation begins"   Crain's - "TIF backers use Facebook to win over professionals".

  • Other stories - MEN "Exposure" Blog - "CONgestion charging: The "truth""   Crain's - "On the Street and Off the Cuff" first bit.

    Saturday 5 July 2008
  • More on moving target - MEN - "Group refuse to pay for mayor poll".

  • Lib Dem finance spokesman's views - (despite the headline this is mainly about the con charge) - MEN - "'Put homeless in posh flats'".

  • Road Tolls to pay for cyclists - The cycling establishment are backing road tolls - Rochdale Online - "C-charge will pay for cycle network".

  • Blast from the past - Rochdale Online - "Union backing for congestion charge". Most people will never have heard of this organisation or will have assumed that it faded away many years ago. Over the last year it appears to have issued three press statements - two of them supporting "congestion charging". Perhaps the "T" stands for "Tolls" and not "Trades".

  • Bit more from Tuesday's debate - Rochdale Online - "Congestion charge attacked in Westminster".

    Friday 4 July 2008
  • Couple of items - Tameside Advertiser - "MP speaks of C-Charge concerns"   David Ottewell blog - "Blogging the charge".

  • Moving target - the majority voted against having an elected Mayor in Bury (No 15,425, Yes 10,338, spoilt papers 28, turnout 18%) - BBC - "Bury elected mayor plan rejected"   MEN - "Bury 'no' to elected mayor"   David Ottewell blog - "Dead and Bury-ed".
    This morning, Geoffrey Berg who organised both the petition and the referendum said:- "The result is disappointing but the situation had changed substantially from when it was decided to go ahead with a campaign for a Mayoral referendum in Bury. At that time the Leader of the Council had determined that the Council should support the submission of the road tolls scheme, and there was a reluctance to agree to hold a referendum in Bury on the tolls issue. Since then the position of the Council has changed and the Council says that it no longer supports the tolls scheme, so many people will have thought that there was no point in voting. If the Council had adopted this position from the start it would have saved everyone a lot of time and expense."
    "MART has started Mayoral petitions in other areas, including Bolton and Tameside, where the Council leaders still seem to be enthusiastic about the introduction of this toll tax. We will continue with those Mayoral petitions until each Council agrees to hold a fairly conducted poll of its own residents on the toll issue."

  • Passengers on a ship - MEN - "C-charge survey delay snubbed". This story misses the point - who if any of the GMPTA board saw what was going out in their name? The situation is the same with AGMA. The people who are nominally in charge of this process - the ten Council leaders - seem to be mere figureheads. As far as we know most of the leaders have still not seen what was submitted to the Government in their name. If this is the way the ten leaders are treated, then what hope is there that the people will be given a proper say?

    Thursday 3 July 2008
  • Tameside reaction to Poll suggestion - includes quote from Rob Hardman of MART - Tameside Advertiser - "C-charge referendum".

  • Complaint about the Corrie adverts - Buxton Advertiser - "Don't spend my money on this". Interesting that there are no letters in the Manchester papers about this. Is the toll advertising budget mightier than the pen? Or are the people of Manchester so used to being manipulated that they don't complain?

  • More on - Lib Dem Council leader backs poll - on his conditions - Middleton Guardian - "Suspicion over C-Charge vote".

  • Graham Stringer in Manchester Confidential - "MP for Blackley, thinks we're having the wool pulled over our eyes".

  • Bury vote - MEN - "Voters have say in mayor battle". The MEN or someone seems to be trying to get the voters to say "No" to a Mayor by scare stories about extra costs and by saying that a Mayor could not keep Bury out of the road tolls scheme. We will see if voters are fooled. Though in any case the result of this referendum is not as vital as it seemed at one stage. When MART members started this ball rolling, the Leader of Bury Council, though a Tory, was in favour of submitting the TIF road tolls plan to the Government, and the Council could not agree on holding a referendum on the issue that was of most concern to the people of Bury - road tolls.

  • Who was doing the shouting? - MEN - "Leader in congestion run-in". Sir Richard says that he was shouted down, but according to Maria, it was Sir Richard who shouted her down and accused her of opposing public transport. No doubt the toll scheme advisers will now be increasing the spin budget.
    PS Prestwich Advertiser - "Mother faces up to toll tax council boss".

  • More Sales meetings from the Chamber - MEN - "Chamber in c-charge challenge"   MEN - "Transport plans: Meeting details". The Chamber of Commerce is holding more meetings for Sir Howard Bernstein "the main driver behind the transport bid" to try and convince businesses to support the tolls plan. He is being seconded by "United City" and opposed by the Greater Manchester Momentum Group. What the businesses will not get is any facts, as the authorities are still keeping secret all the documents in last year's TIF submission. And there is no way that the authorities will reveal what is in phase two of their plans, till they have got their foot in the door with phase one.

    Wednesday 2 July 2008
  • More from the MEN Editor - "Little things can have a big impact" - A bit late but here is what he had to tell his readers on Monday - "The region now stands at a crossroads where it remains unclear whether a congestion charge will be used to unlock investment for public transport.
    While the big picture has reached an impasse - the decision on whether to hold a public referendum has been postponed for a month - we today report details of several schemes which could help reduce congestion.
    Matt Colledge, newly-elected chairman of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, has pledged to remain neutral on the issue and it remains to be seen how feasible the commitment is. Under his stewardship, however, the GMPTA is already talking of new schemes, including an expansion of the free Metroshuttle bus service outside Manchester city centre.
    We are aware that the Metroshuttle expansion scheme has been suggested once before but failed due to a lack of support from the local authorities and businesses who would be asked to pay.
    This newspaper believes that congestion charging is a price worth paying for improvements to public transport, so long as significant improvements have been made before charging begins.
    But there is no harm in concurrently assessing the other small gestures which might make a difference to the way in which people move around Greater Manchester. We all have a duty to reappraise the way the roads and other transport links are utilised and we support the GMPTA for continuing to take the lead on this crucial debate."

    If you strip out the verbiage and reference to "small gestures", this reasserts the MEN's 100% support for road tolls. Given the multi million pound spin budget that has also been given to the GMPTA to try and sell road tolls, one wonders how the people of Greater Manchester are going to learn the real facts about this scam?

  • Labour MP for Denton and Reddish backs a poll - Stockport Express - "Call for local poll on road charging".
  • Lib Dem MP for Cheadle will vote "No" - Community News - ""Seething resentment" at congestion charge: Cheadle MP tells Parliament".

  • "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" - MEN - "C-charge car park row".

    Tuesday 1 July 2008
  • Roads Minister denies bribery and bullying - Part of the Roads Minister's reply at the end of today's debate (see next item for link to full debate) - MEN - "Referendum: Council to decide". It seems that one requirement for a Government Minister must be the ability to deny what everyone else knows.

    Labour MP attacks tolls plan - MEN - "Double whammy for drivers". This is welcome news, though it is not clear when this Commons debate was. The last debate was on the 9th June when the announcement was made, and none of this is in Hansard.
    PS The answer to this mystery is that the debate was not in the Commons but in Westminster Hall - Lancashire Evening Post - "Congestion charge plans 'not up to the task'"   Link to full report of debate, it is over more than one page.

  • Lib Dem Council leader backs poll - on his conditions - Rochdale Observer - "Council leader backs toll tax referendum". It all sounds very democratic - does it not! Last Wednesday it was reported that the Leader of the Tory group in Rochdale when hearing of the Lib Dem Damascene conversion said she was amazed as the Leader of the Lib Dems had previously "decried and dismissed as obstructive and ill-informed" her attempt to get Rochdale to agree to a poll.

  • Q. Is congestion charging a price worth paying for £3bn worth of public transport improvements? - MEN.

  • The official spin from the inside - BBC - "Manchester congestion charge: myth and reality". Interesting that the author is "the head of KPMG's global transport advisory group" and is described as the "Architect of the Manchester congestion charging plan". When was he elected? Is it a coincidence that KPMG is a member of the "United City" toll "supporters club"?
    KPMG are the auditors for Transport for London and seem to love tolls. On the 24th May last year the Times City Diary had a brief piece following a Commons Transport Select Committee meeting that had looked at Manchester's TIF plans - "Representing Manchester was Lewis Atter, now a consultant at KPMG. The bid requires £1 billion of funding from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund ... this just happens to have been set up by one Lewis Atter, in an earlier life a heavy-hitter at the Treasury ..".

    Monday 30 June 2008
  • Freedom of Information - . Someone suggests to David that he "Complain to the information commisioner". Our advice to David is that life is not long enough. On the 2nd August last year we asked the DfT for "a copy of all the documents that have been submitted to your department as part" of the TIF bid. They refused and we then had to go through the appeal hoops that are required before we could contact the Information Commissioner on the 10th November. As of this afternoon, our complaint is in "FOI Team 1 queue" and has not yet been "assigned to a complaints officer". As it has not been assigned any queries about the lack of progress are just filed and they will not not even acknowledge receipt until such point as someone is assigned. The whole system is run in such a way that the authorities know that they can hold up the release of information till the point at which it is no longer of use.
    Despite this we have today made another Freedom of Information Act query to the authorities. We have asked for the cost and other details for each scheme that is in the package provisionally aporoved on the 9th June. It will be interesting to see if the details of the "goodies" are as secret as the rest of the scheme.

  • Ex tolls boss says - "Referendum will get the councillors of the hook" - MEN - "Metroshuttle set for expansion".

  • Another bonanza from Crain's, including the views of business bosses that want drivers to be tolled - Best one is the private equity bosses who want people to be dazzled by the goodies, presumably so that they can't see the tolls bullet on its way.
    # "C-charge good for buy-to-let, says property promoter".
    # "Other Views: Need £2.8bn? Sell Manchester Airport".
    # "Private equity firm to join pro-TIF lobby group".
    # "C-charge news round-up".
    # "Firms cry foul over sweet deal for Trafford Park".
    # "Our View: Let's make an informed choice".
    # "Other Views: C-charge is fairest way to pay for transport improvements".

    Saturday 28 June 2008
  • Time for clarity? - MEN Editorial from Thursday's paper - "Time for clarity on road tolls issue". In advance of Friday's meeting they seem to have been trying to pressure those districts that don't want to have a toll. The story about the "two thirds" majority deciding the issue would soon have hit the buffers of reality, so now it seems that an attempt is being made to force road tolls on to Trafford and other districts in another way. Those behind this may not believe that they will win a referendum, but are taking a big gamble so that they can keep their flop on the road.
    Best bit of the editorial is the MEN urging its readers to make sure that they are in full possession of the facts. Perhaps the MEN could start by revealing to its readers that the authorities have been keeping secret what was in the TIF documents that were submitted last summer.

  • More on World turns upside down - MEN - "C-charge bid: shock blow". This story says that the TIF submission "is in the name of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), a coalition of the region's 10 councils" and implies that the GMPTA doing a Pontius Pilate on the issue of road tolls may not matter.
    It may be that the MEN is one up on everyone else, including most of the ten Council Leaders, - because the TIF submission is still a secret despite Freedom of Information Act requests by us and probably by others. So we don't know who's names were on the TIF submission. But what we do know is that the earlier TIF submissions (for "pump primimg" money) were in the names of both AGMA and GMPTA; that AGMA has no legal status and can not in its own right sign any agreement with the Government; and that the letter of the 9th June from the Department of Transport which gave "programme entry" to the TIF scheme was addressed to "Lord Peter Smith and Sir Howard Bernstein", Lord Smith is the chairman of AGMA, but Sir Howard is Clerk to the GMPTA.

    Friday 27 June 2008
  • Further Report from today's AGMA meeting - This is from another MART member who was there and mentions some different points from Mary-

    Everyone who spoke was in favour of private hire taxis being exempt from the charge, and the only point against this was that it undermined the value of a hackney carriage licence, which is quite expensive. Those who spoke pointed out that PH drivers outnumber HC drivers approx 10:1 and they were a vocal force in opposition to the charge.

    The moving of the outer cordon from the M60 to the Manchester city boundary was suggested by Howard Sykes, the new Leader of Oldham, but nobody responded and the issue was not discussed or taken seriously.

    An annual season ticket or capped charge was suggested. Most people seemed to like the idea and Sir Howard Bernstein's comment was to the effect that "all these things are up for grabs". There was a little misunderstanding about whether this would be available to everybody or just those within a certain area.

    A discount for residents living in the charging zone (as in London) was suggested to remove most of the opposition from locals.

    There was a discussion about making sure elected members were fully involved throughout instead of officers, especially in terms of public relations.

    There was also a discussion about making sure the Electoral Commission were involved before and during the referendum to make sure it was seen to be fair.

    There were objections to the size of the budget of £3 million for the consultation exercise (this summer). Some of this to pay for a 5,000 person MORI poll. Most of it to pay for advertising to convince people to vote yes for the con charge. Sir Richard Leese pointed out that this equated to only 50 pence per resident, and that it should be promoted as such to the public because it would be more palatable.

  • "Face off" Crain's - "TIF lobbying groups to face off July 2". Well done to the GMMG in getting an invite from the Chamber, though they seem to be facing two or three opponents (GMPTA, "United City" and the Chamber hierarchy) rather than one.

  • World turns upside down - David Ottewell Blog - "C charge newsflash: Tory takes helm at GMPTA". Later report on Crain's - "GMPTA elects new chairman".

  • More on AGMA meeting Rochdale Online - "AGMA defers decision on toll poll"   Crain's - "Group against C-charge wants decision on referendum"   MEN - "C-charge survey cost 'too high'"   Crain's - "C-charge vote talks put on hold"   updated BBC story - "C-charge vote talks put on hold".
    The PM was in town today, saying that a decision on the C-charge would be "up to the people". Odd as his Government is changing the law to remove the least trace of democracy in these decisions, and is also dangling various transport goodies in front of people with the threat that the goodies will be removed unless the poison bait is also taken.

  • Report from the AGMA meeting - One of our members was present at this morning's meeting. Apparently there were no formal votes on anything but whatever resolutions were already on the agenda were passed. As there was nothing on the agenda about a referendum, this has not been formally agreed.
    Most of the talking was done by Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese, and they made the referendum suggestion. Sue Williams for Trafford said that any Greater Manchester wide referendum should not be binding on those districts that did not want the scheme. Sir Richard told her that she would have to accept the proposal but that in any case there would be a formal resolution on the Referendum put to the next AGMA meeting.
    Sue Williams also said that if there was to be a referendum, then there was no point wasting a great amount of money on a consultation exercise. As with all other points raised, there was no vote and the consultation is to go ahead.
    Points raised by other council leaders included whether private hire operators should also get a discount and a suggestion from Oldham that the outer toll cordon should not be the M60, but instead should be the Manchester City boundary.

  • AGMA meeting - The ten Council leaders meet this morning to discuss the Government's acceptance of the TIF submission that was made by AGMA and the GMPTA last August. The majority of the Council leaders will presumably rubber stamp further spending on the scheme which still has to go through two more rounds of vetting by the Government -Conditional Approval, and Full Approval. The leaders are also due to discuss "consultation". The possibility of holding a referendum was not on the agenda, but presumably will be discussed following the decision made on Wednesday by Sir Richard Leese. Having said that, the agenda and reports on the TIF submission seem to be in limbo at the moment, as the AGMA website was off the air last night and this morning.

  • Referendum - # One of the regular contributors to the Guardian Blog, does not like referenda, but thinks that she and other toll supporters will win in Manchester - Chorley Guardian - "Status quo reins in Europe".
    # A Rochdale Tory councillor comments on the apparent U-turn by the Leader of Rochdale Council - Chorley Guardian - "Amazement at congestion charge referendum U-turn". It is also surprising that a Lib Dem is apparently going to follow the lead of Labour.
    Thursday 26 June 2008
  • Referendum boundary - Chorley Guardian - "'We need to have our say on congestion charge plan'".
    PS Buxton Advertiser - "City charge jobs threat".

  • Bikers welcome their exemption but complain about parking their machines - BMF - "Manchester Congestion Charge 'Give and Take' for Motorcyclists".

  • More on "U turn" - # ABD Press release - "Manchester Set to Hold Congestion Charge Referendum?"
    # Bolton News - "Road-charge vote for all Greater Manchester"
    # MEN David Ottewell Blog - "Congestion charge: reflections". David says that there is "NO BASIS IN LAW" for AGMA to force councils that don't want road tolls to have them. That is quite correct and why MART said last year that the TIF scheme was effectively dead (see 27 July on our 2007 Manchester News page). Despite that the Councils and the Government have gone through a charade. They were able to do that because much of the news media went along with it.
    # MEN - "C-charge turmoil over ballot"
    # MEN "Exposure" Blog - "C-charge: A very quiet U-turn"
    # Sir Richard's Blog at Manchester City Council
    # Middleton Guardian - "A 'sMART' protest against c-charge..."   Salford Advertiser - "Campaigners target Merry" (more stories which seem to have been overtaken by events, but could reveal one reason for a change of heart by the toll bosses)
    # Videos on BBC - 387   374.
  • More on Bosses against it - MEN - "IoD adds to road price opposition".

  • More on North of the border - MEN - "Set for a poll on the toll".

    Wednesday 25 June 2008
  • Bosses against it - The BIG bosses organisations (such as the CBI and Institute of Directors) are usually in the camp of the Trolls. But the NW branch of the IoD has fundamental concerns about the current scheme - Crain's - "Institute of Directors against TIF bid".

  • "U turn" or what? - Early today the talk was about the Toll bosses agreeing to abide by whatever the "consultation" said. He who pays the piper gets to pick the tune, and these "consultation" exercises are constructed in such a way that they get the answers that they want. What the authorities have done in toll "consultation" exercises elsewhere is to lead up to the tolls question with a series of questions on congestion, and then say that the view of "experts" is that "congestion charges" are the only answer. People are also usually misled into thinking that all the income will be used for public transport etc. They are not told that in London, most of the money collected is wasted in the cost of administration and enforcement.

    But it now seems that the authorities have "decided" (like a lot of decisions this one appears to have been made behind closed doors by a few people, some of them unelected) to change their minds and will now agree to holding a referendum.
    Whatever the reasons for such a change of heart, those against the toll plans would welcome such a decision. Though one concern is what are the motives behind this? They have previously spread the story that if seven of the 10 councils agreed then the others would be forced in to it. That assertion never had any basis in law and was said to keep the show (and its consultants) on the road. It seems that the Toll Bosses and the Government can no longer keep the assertion up and they now want to try and force the reluctant councils by being prepared to lose it all on a referendum. (Though a Council will be in an odd position if its residents vote "No" on the issue, and the Council then do it anyway based on the votes of people who live elsewhere).

    It could be that the Toll Bosses know they are heading for a mega political disaster unless they get endorsement from the people. It may also be that they believe that with their influence with certain papers, their spin machines and the use of many millions of tax payers money they can succeed in getting what they want. Whatever their motives and whatever the resources they employ, they might as well abandon this now, as the people will tell them what they can do with their Toll Tax.

  • More on "U turn" - Middleton Guardian - "Council backs referendum for c-charge"   Middleton Guardian - "U-turn on congestion charge referendum".
    This report appears to have been overtaken by events - Rochdale Observer - "Campaign to force charge referendum".

  • North of the border - Edinburgh Evening News - "Capital case cited in Manchester protesters' C-charge battle".

  • "Consultation" or Poll? - MEN - "U-turn over c-charge vote"   BBC - "Public 'will decide' on C-charge".

  • "The Jury" - MEN.

  • More on being bold - David Ottewell Blog - "Birmingham watches from the sidelines". For more on this see "Another Tale of Two Cities" on our main news page yesterday. David mentions the "30,000 new jobs". He should remember that this is the difference between the forecast jobs growth in the area with "something" being done about congestion (210,000) and nothing being done (180,000). There are two problems with this. The first is that even with the lower estimate, where are all these people and their families going to live? The second is that improving public transport obviously does improve the economy, but bringing in road tolls will obviously damage it. There is no chance whatsoever that the authorities will publish any independent research into the effect of tolls on the economy.

  • Another Tolls Bill - The authorities are to spend £3 million on selling their toll plans and a mock consultation which will run to 10th October - "£3m bill - for charge views".As the MEN knows what the Council leaders will be deciding on Friday, why don't they also reveal what is in the envelope marked "Not to be opened till October" and let us all know the results of the consultation - the taxpayers could then save the £3 million.

    Tuesday 24 June 2008
  • To boldly go where wise men fear to tread - Yesterday on our main news page we reported that Cambridgeshire (the only other area to have made a TIF submission) was having second thoughts. There are these stories today - Crain's - "Cambridgeshire County drops its C-charge plans"   David Ottewell Blog - "And then there was one".

  • More on toll discounts et al - David Ottewell Blog - "Taxis, caps and consultation"   MEN - "Chiefs will listen to private-hire drivers".

  • Darling backs tolls, sort of - MEN - "Darling backs c-charge".

  • Chamber selling tolls again - A year ago the Chamber of Commerce organised a series of meetings at which only toll supporters were allowed to address members. They are now having another go - Crain's - "Chamber to stage briefings on TIF proposals".

  • Other stories today - Chorley Citizen - "Campaigners warn Chorley commuters of congestion charge pay cut"   Rochdale Online - "Congestion Charge Debate comes to Rochdale".

    Monday 23 June 2008
  • Mammoth or mouse? - Leigh Journal - "United City speaks up for congestion fee plans". This story gives the impression that "United City" is a large independent business alliance. But is it more than a small group cobbled together by the puppet masters at the last minute to give the illusion that businesses back the tolls plan?

  • More of the same - This afternoon, the documents that AGMA (the 10 Council leaders) will consider at their meeting on Friday appeared on the AGMA site - (The 5 items that begin with a 3). It appears from one of the documents that there will not be a referendum, but instead there will be an exercise similar to the one conducted last year. These exercises are constructed to give the answers that they want. Despite this it will be sold as fair and representative. The puppet masters behind this scheme are treating the people of the city as if it was Zimbabwe.

  • Toll discount plans - The authorities have given to the press (AGMA have not yet made the report public) some details of discounts that are to be voted on and then "agreed" at a meeting of AGMA at Swinton Civic Centre on Friday 27th.
    The press reports say that bikers, disabled, hackney cabs drivers, buses, emergency service vehicles and people with 'regular' hospital appointments would not pay the toll. People on low incomes would get a 20 per cent discount off the toll. People working at Trafford Park would get a 50% discount. The maximum charge for those who make multiple trips across the cordon would be capped at £10 for the day - BBC - "Delivery vans face £10 C-charge"   MEN - "C-charge exemption plans"   Crain's - "HGVs to pay same c-charge as cars - but special deal for Trafford Park"   Rochdale Online - "AGMA to vote on c-charge discounts".
    The private hire drivers complain that they are not exempt - MEN - "'We will fight the charge'". Based on what is in the press, it seems that the other 99.99% of drivers would love to pay the charge.

  • Crain's view of the "independent" business council - "Our View: Where is the voice of business?".

  • Toll Boss gives his views in Crain's - "TIF 'will stop spiral of decline'".

    Saturday 21 June 2008
  • GMPTA can't agree on who is in control - Crain's - "GMPTA in deadlock over electing chair". A bit difficult to understand the voting, though it could be that no one is in a hurry to sit in Roger Jones's chair.

  • Mismatch - Crain's - "AGMA not telling all about C-charge, group says".

  • More on Business Petition - MEN - "Businesses rebel against c-charge".

    Friday 20 June 2008
  • Who is the Toll Boss? - More from the official who is paid by the taxpayers, but appears to be pushing hard to sell tolls - Property Week - "Bernstein defends charge".

  • The inner ring - BBC - "Manchester C-charge area unveiled".
    PS Story on Crain's "Options for C-charge inner ring unveiled".
    Bolton News - "Congestion charge map has been unveiled". The News has a poll - "Do you think Bolton's vote will make a difference to the congestion charge?" 70% of people believe that the vote will be ignored.

  • Business petition - The Forum for Private Business has launched a petition for smaller firms to vote against the toll plans - FPB press release (includes link to petition). The FPB was part of the GMMG but left as it thought that at that time the GMMG was getting into areas that were not directly related to opposing the tolls plan.

    Thursday 19 June 2008
  • Easily pleased - Chorley Citizen - "Chorley MP welcomes Manchester congestion charge consultation". The Lord of the Trolls has apparently said that neighbouring authorities will be "consulted". This will no doubt be similar to the consultation that took place with the native peoples when the Americas were colonised.

  • Idea for next anti-tolls protest? - South Manchester Reporter - "The bare-faced cheek".

  • Encouraging people to stay away - Lancashire Evening Post - "MP demands congestion charge consultation". A spokesman from from the Campaign for Better Transport (formerly known as Transport 2000 and a leading anti roads group) is quoted - "Congestion charging .. might benefit Lancashire by encouraging people to stay here to shop.". We wonder if they will say the same to Manchester businesses?

  • "Fuel costs could be congestion weapon" - Editorial in yesterday's paper which says that the "congestion charge" is not to reduce congestion but to take more money from road users to give to trams, trains and buses - MEN.

  • "Authorities are steering us towards militancy" - Comment from Paul Taylor in yesterday's paper - MEN.

  • The new Tory MP for Crewe and Nantwich linked to firm backing tolls - Independent - "Split loyalties for Timpson as daddy takes on Tories".

  • Government Quango (NWDA) drumming up more support for tolls - Lancashire Telegraph - "Burnley rail upgrade could be boosted by Manchester congestion charge".

  • More Questions for Toll boss - Oldham Advertiser - "Trams to arrive in Oldham in 2011".

    Wednesday 18 June 2008
  • Wigan to get station or a con trick? - Leigh Reporter - "Confusion over rail plan".

  • Stockport Council alternative - Stockport Express - "'Metrolink will never come here' says Council leader".

  • Questions for Toll boss - Manchester Confidential invited regular users of their site to ask questions about tolls - "Sir Howard Bernstein wants your questions on Congestion Charging". The questions are going to a man who is described as "Manchester City Council's Chief Executive (and) a Passenger Transport Authority boss in Greater Manchester". We don't know which political party he may belong to but Sir Howard is an unelected official. This seems to be another example of what the Manchester political establishment think about democracy - it is safer to use an officer as the tolls salesman as he can't be spurned by the electors à la Roger Jones.

  • New "Demands" - The puppet organisation that is supporting the tolls plan has some more "demands" for the puppet masters - Crain's - "United City announces C-charge demands". The original set of "demands" were a sham as they were what was supposed to be already in the TIF submission. These latest "demands" are partly the same, though it does contain s few novelties. One of these is the "demand" for "an exemption on motorcycles". We didn't realise that property developers were such keen bikers. It may be that the puppet masters have whispered in the ear of "United City" that they intend to do this in order to stifle one possible opposition group.
    PS The story in the MEN - "Firms call for c-charge changes".
  • ""No" Poll" - The Movie - BBC.

  • Traffic down - MEN - "Driven off the road". If it carries on like this then they will have to bring in a toll tax on pedestrians! Sounds unlikely? Perhaps, but there were tolls long before the motor engine was invented.

  • Press release - "NO WAY!" - Yesterday we issued this press release - Today there are two good omens for those who oppose the plan for road tolls in Greater Manchester.

    The first omen is the publication by the BBC of a survey of 1,000 people. It shows that most people do not want the scheme but they do want a referendum on the issue.

    The people behind the scheme have dismissed the survey by saying that no one would want a new tax, and that people will say yes to tolls when they know more about the billions of spending on more trams and other transport schemes.

    Despite what is suggested by advocates of this "Congestion charge" scheme, the proposed tolls in Edinburgh were also presented as a package with transport spending. The people there were subject to a massive spin campaign from the City Council, and the ballot paper was accompanied by a glossy leaflet showing all the goodies that the city would get if they said yes.

    The exact wording of the question on the Edinburgh ballot paper was - "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?"

    Despite this bias, in the Toll Poll of February 2005, the people of Edinburgh recognised the poison within this apple and rejected the package by a margin of three to one. Will the people in the Manchester city region be given a similar chance to vote on this? Or will this tainted fruit be forced down their throats?

    The other good omen for opponents is that the Norwich Union insurance company has abandoned its "Pay As You Drive" system that started in 2005. The system charged insurance premiums according to where and when a vehicle was used. It has been abandoned because drivers did not like the "big-brother element". Nationally this will be a blow for the Government plans for road tolls, but it may be a bigger blow for Manchester as some of the Transport Innovation Fund documents referred to "a partnership with Norwich Union, which could contribute to the delivery of the "GMITS" (GMITS is "Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Strategy").

    The Councils will probably have no problem getting other firms to help them as the London scheme showed that huge profits can be made. But the abandonment of the "Pay As You Drive" scheme is a clear sign that if the Manchester scheme goes ahead then the Councils and the Government will have a massive problem in getting drivers to co-operate with the implementation and enforcement of this toll tax.
    Tuesday 17 June 2008
  • "Anti c-charge campaigners see a good omen" - Rochdale Online.

  • "NO!" story even gets into the MEN - "C-charge gets thumbs down".

  • The spin revs up - MEN - "TV campaign for c-charge debate". If anyone didn't already know this shows that the politicians and their hired help are prepared to use millions from the taxes that we already pay in an effort to "con" people into paying more tax. Is there any one left who believes that they are living in a democracy?

  • "NO!" - BBC - "Under a third support road charge".
    Despite what is suggested by advocates of this "Congestion charge" scheme, the proposed tolls in Edinburgh were also presented as a package with transport spending. In the Toll Poll of February 2005, the exact wording of the question on the ballot paper was - "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?" The people of Edinburgh recognised the poison within this apple and rejected the package by a margin of three to one. Will the people in the Manchester area be given a similar chance to vote on this? Or will this tainted fruit be forced down their throats?"

  • Mystery of the Question mark - MEN - "Chamber view: C-charge worth the price?". Most Manchester businesses, including those that are members of the Chamber are opposed to the road toll plans. Despite this the "Chamber" has for the last year been backing the plans and refused an opportunity for those opposed to tolls to have a hearing. Has the Chamber now adopted a slightly more neutral stance or is this only a sham?

  • Insurer abandons "Pay As You Drive" trial - Norwich Union's trial of a system that charged insurance premiums according to where and when a vehicle was used has been abandoned after a trial which has been running since 2005 - Independent - "Surveillance fears force Norwich to scrap 'pay as you drive' car policies". This is particularly significant to the Manchester tolls plan as the Norwich Union was involved in the plans. The TIF pump priming documents referred to "a partnership with Norwich Union, which could contribute to the delivery of the GMITS" (GMITS is "Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Strategy"). There were more details in this Annex to 2005 TIF pump priming submission from Manchester.

    Monday 16 June 2008
  • News Bonanza from Crain's -
    # "Lobbies play the numbers game - Rival business groups in race to recruit as consultation looms". Interesting to see that some of the tolls lobby were part of the "independent" panel.

    # "Our View: Congestion charge? No thank you".

    # "C-charge could be done deal by autumn". The letter from Ruth Kelly last Monday indicated that the GMPTA and AGMA before any final decision will be spending many millions (on consultants and spin) and appointing lots of staff. If not stopped soon this scheme will be like a juggernaut.

    # "Bolton vote may prove to be futile". The Government are changing the law, so that the GMPTA/GMPTE could potentially ignore what any or even all of the ten district councils think and order them to bring in road tolls. The local Tories are aware of this, but down in Westminster the national Tories are so far "aping" the three wise monkeys. Will they try to stand up for roads users?

    # "Tight security surrounded the Rochdale Town Hall press conference at which the success of AGMA's TIF bid was announced last week. Media folk had to present invites, press passes and business cards to the three very burly security staff on the door. One person who wasn't getting past them, however, was Andrew Simpson, managing director of Peel Holdings and de facto leader of the anti-congestion charge lobby. After numerous phone calls and pleas to the keepers of the clipboard, Simpson even reverted to haranguing Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese as he went in. To no avail, however. "It's strictly press", came the response. Simpson was forced to wait outside for over an hour until everybody filed out. At least the weather was nice."
    PS MART was not there to see them go in, but we were there to see them come out - or not. It seems that most of them must have exited via a different door, except for someone who looked very like the Leader of the Council, who did use the front door and then got into his car.

  • The "facts" - Wigan Evening Post - "Getting facts on road plan".

    Sunday 15 June 2008
  • Poll on poll - Just started by Rob - Toluna.
    Not the David Ottewell blog in the MEN - "Congestion charge challenge". (No offence, David.)

  • The "Con-charge" - Part of a a quote from John Bell, the leader of Tory group in Tameside   "Tameside Reporter - "MIXED REACTION" .

    Friday 13 June 2008
  • Property boom - There have been a lot of stories over last few days in the property papers, it looks like they are from the same mystery source. The stories say that the TIF plan will mean a boom in property prices. Presumably all those extra people flooding into Manchester to experience the joys of tolls, trams and no traffic.

  • Another GMPTE site? - BBC - "Road map to the future". It asks "After looking at the map, tell us if the changes to public transport are good for you. Could you get into Manchester without the car?" We are glad to see that despite this, some of the comments are against the charge.
    This new Manchester page is similar to one that the BBC have which seems to promote the London Congestion charge.

  • Never mind the price, feel the width - from a prospective Labour MP - Guardian Comment - "Transport plan for Manchester is about more than congestion charge".

  • More property developers backing the Toll Board a.k.a. AGMA - It seems that Council bosses are trying to copy the Greater Manchester Momentum Group with a similar group that will back their toll scheme - MEN - "Early to chair leadership council".

  • Another demand for Toll Poll - In Oldham, SOS Saddleworth are launching a campaign to have a borough wide referendum on the proposed Great Manchester congestion charge at the Saddleworth Show on June 22nd.

  • Some more BBC videos - pointed out by Chris - Monday - "Congestion charge approved"   Monday - "Congestion charge opposition"   Wednesday - "County commuters on C-charge".

    Thursday 12 June 2008
  • And a bit more - from the Economist - "For whom the road tolls - Congestion charging comes to Manchester". Note that the reference to Stockholm - "seven months of freer-flowing roads had transformed implacable opposition into a vote-admittedly a narrow one-in favour of the charge." is just more disinformation. The Stockholm system is a cordon around the main part of the city. Those inside the cordon narrowly voted for the tolls, but when the votes in the suburbs outside the cordon are included, then the overall majority voted against.

  • More on the announcement -
    # SPIKED!!   "Mancunian motorists, say 'No' to this sin tax".

    # MPs who have signed an Early Day Motion calling for the consultation to be extended outside Greater Manchester. They are Lindsay Hoyle (Lab), Greg Pope (Lab), Nigel Evans (Tory), David Crausby (Lab), Bob Spink(UKIP ex Tory), Nicholas Winterton (Tory), Tom Levitt (Lab), Graham Stringer (Lab), Rudi Vis (Lab), Bob Wareing (Independent ex Lab).

    # David Ottewell's Blog - "C charge: Birmingham missing out?". David did not mention this story which was also in the Birmingham Post - "Birmingham business 'won't suffer from loss of transport funds'".

    # Other stories - South Manchester Reporter - "Next stop Didsbury"   South Manchester Reporter - "A £3bn investment - but at what price?"   Leigh Journal - "Transport plans welcomed"   Middleton Guardian - "C-charge gets the go-ahead".

  • American view - Yesterday there was a tolls supporters conference in Manchester (see yesterday on our main news page). Today one of the Americans attending was in the MEN - "New York chief hails congestion plan". The American says that NY "Traffic keeps getting worse". The reality is that following the increase in "gas" prices, road traffic is falling and the congestion is on the trains.

    Letter in Tameside Advertiser - This was from MART member - Mike Slattery - and was written before Monday's announcement - "There comes a time when we all have to look at what is happening around us, and not be blinkered. Like I have said in this paper several times, this planned CONgestion charge is going to involve everyone, and not just the motorist. This is a subject that will not just go away if we don't think about it, but needs to be stopped, dead, in it's tracks, not by some of us, but by all of us objecting to being taxed yet again, by a government that has already brought in more new taxes than ever before.

    The motorist driving into Manchester to go to work, and then drive back home, will pay over £1,000 per year, and that is a lot out of a persons wage. Deliveries, in and out of Manchester will also have to pay this charge or more, and in many cases will pass the charges back onto us, the consumers.

    The councilors have also told us that this is only phase 1, but seem to want to leave us in the dark on phase 2. I have said what phase 2 involves, but still you do not listen. Phase 2, is where the rest of Tameside is hit with the charge and will cost us even more.

    If you want to sit on your backsides and do nothing, then that is your prerogative, but if on the other hand, you want it stopped, then do something, and stop them, and stop the government using us as guinea pigs. Whether you are a private motorist, a consumer or a company, you can find a group, involved in STOPPING THE CONGESTION CHARGE. Just go online and log into Tameside branch of MART; and be involved."
    Wednesday 11 June 2008
  • See it on the Beeb - Look North tonight had one of the country's leading toll advocates talking about the Manchester plan - video. The Professor says that the London charge had shown that such a scheme could make a big difference "overnight" to the level of congestion. BBC viewers will not realise that traffic in the London charge area is now as slow as it ever was.

  • From an IT suppliers view - Ovum - "Manchester congestion charge by 2013?". We do not know where these figures come from, but if it is correct that the tolls will be £25 million a year and the contractor will only get £10 million a year, then after allowing for the costs of setting up the scheme it will barely wash its face. Yet the profits on the tolls are supposed to be used to pay back borrowings of £1.6 billion - the interest alone would be over £100 million a year. Are the Ovum figures wrong, or are the Government planning to have another sub prime mortgage crisis - except this time it will be the councils defaulting?

  • More stories in local papers - Tameside Advertiser - "MP calms fears over C-charge"   Oldham Advertiser - "Simple choice? Congestion fees or transport plans stall". The second story includes "Cllr Richard Knowles, who is bidding to become chairman of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, said .... "There has to be some flexibility in that the outer boundary needs to be moved inwards towards Manchester to avoid keeping bits of Oldham, Stockport and Tameside inside a zone that is trying to stop congestion in Manchester centre.. The proposed park and ride at Hollinwood, for example, would lie within the charging zone, so there would be no incentive to use it. This, and many other questions need answering so that the fullest possible information can be sent out to residents ahead of the consultation period." This is amazing, it indicates that almost none of the councillors know what is going on. It seems that whoever the mystery people are who drew up the toll plans, they have even kept Councillor Knowles in the dark.

  • More on the Road hauliers - We said yesterday that some of them seemed to be sitting on the fence hoping that somehow they would not have to pay, we have now seen their press release - "A Tax On Trucks".

  • Stockport still opposes the toll - "Congestion charge drives hard bargain for Stockport".

  • Areas outside Greater Manchester want a say - BBC - "Calls to widen road pricing talks".

  • Some local papers are ignoring opposition to tolls - Wigan Evening Post - "Busway is now one step closer"   Leigh Reporter - "£3bn boost for Leigh's transport system"   Wigan Evening Post - "Hope at last for railway users"   Wigan Evening Post - "Charge plan would bring upgrades".

  • More from Government Quango - Another one sided story - "Manchester MP defends congestion charge". This repeats the tale of "losing 30,000 jobs", but the report that said this was paid for by the authorities and what it actually suggested was that there would be 210,000 more jobs in the area, but that if something was not done about congestion then there would be "only" 180,000 more jobs. Instead of bringing out more tortures for drivers, they should be telling everyone where all these people and their families are going to live.
    PS Another one sided story from the Quango - "Manchester c-charge nothing like London's, says Agma".

    Tuesday 10 June 2008
  • What busineeses really think - Last week a pro tolls business group appeared out of nowhere. The authorities apparently have a few friends, but what do the vast bulk of businesses think? One of the biggest associations of businesses is the Forum for Private Business who are a national organisation based in Knutsford and who represent 25,000 businesses. Their press release - "Manchester congestion charge will hit small firms hard" today ends - "The FPB is urging the owners of small businesses to reject the plans and ensure that, this time, their views are heard".
    PS Some road hauliers seem to be sitting on the fence as they seem to believe that they might not have to pay!   Road transport - "Mystery over HGV charging in Manchester".

  • The official approval - Letter dated 9th from DfT to Lord Smith and Sir Howard Bernstein (pdf document). The submission made last August was into the "TIF Partner" stage, but it seems that this stage must have been done completely in secret, as the letter confirms that they have jumped to the stage of "Programme entry". There are according to the letter numerous things which now have to be done including a "formal public consultation" (it is not specified as to how this is carried out) before the GMPTA and AGMA submit an application to go to the "Conditional approval" stage. They are supposed to submit the application "by the end of October". The Government say that they aim to give an answer "by the end of March 2009". Assuming those behind the scheme get through that hoop, there is one more stage - Final approval.

  • More - Rochdale Online - "More reaction to the proposed Manchester congestion charge"   Rochdale Observer - "Congestion charge to bring trams on track".
    Chorley Citizen - "Chorley MP speaks out over proposed Manchester congestion charge"   Bolton News - "More trains and buses for Bolton" (inc poll)   Bolton News - "Congestion charge 'will be bad for business'" (inc poll)   This is Cheshire - "Toll tax moves step closer"   Rochdale Online - "Congestion charge debate rages".
    David Ottewell - "Poll (2): 67 per cent say no to road pricing" - "Ex-minister says c-charge "yet another tax""   Manchester Confidential - "What will change with the Congestion Charging initiative?""   David Ottewell - "C charge: discounts and polls""   MEN - "City split by c-charge" (though the MEN quote seven people, of whom only two are opponents).
    MEN - "City split by c-charge" (though the MEN quote seven people, of whom only two are opponents)   MEN - "Mixed reaction to c-charge"   MEN - "The C-Charge explained"   Bolton News - "Bolton politicians split over congestion charge plan"   Bolton News - "Congestion charges: How it will affect Bolton" (Sir Richard says that "A congestion charge for Bolton is some way down the line.".

    rochdale More on D Day - Mirror - "IS CONGESTION CHARGING COMING TO A.. CITY centre near you?"   Daily Mail - "Kelly gives green light to Manchester congestion charge"   Daily Mail - "Political class's tentacles reach further, triffid limbs dangling into our pockets"   Guardian editorial - "Jambusters"   Guardian - "£2.8bn for Manchester transport as congestion charge plan confirmed"   Independent - "The Big Question: Does Manchester need a congestion charge, and will it spread elsewhere?"   Metro - "£5 congestion charge 'is bullying motorists'"   Daily Telegraph - "Manchester road pricing scheme will not be scrapped by the Tories".

    From Transport Briefing - "Amber light for £2.8bn Manchester transport bonanza"   "Transport chiefs face struggle to seal TIF investment" (This explains some of the hurdles that the TIF Submission still has to go through)   "Manchester businesses rally to back transport package".

    What Ruth Kelly told MPs yesterday - Hansard (continues over several pages, so you need to click on "next section").

    Yesterday we commented that "The choice of Rochdale for the announcement was possibly designed by Labour to make sure that the execution rope also went round the neck of the Lib Dems". We should also have pointed out that the Labour councillors in Rochdale oppose the tolls plan!!

    Monday 9 June 2008
  • NAAT Press Release -
    "It doesn't matter how big the bribe is, a bribe is still a bribe. The Government know this is the only way that they will get any council to agree to inflict road tolls on local people and businesses."

    "What will happen if tolls are introduced can be seen by looking at London. After five years the traffic is as slow as before the charge, and nearly all the money collected has been wasted in the cost of setting up and administering the scheme. London also shows that you can not rely on what is being said by the Government about the amount of the charge or the area that will be covered. After the London scheme was introduced, Ken Livingstone increased the charge from £5 to £8 and doubled the area that was covered."

    "The proposed tolls will most particularly affect those on lower incomes who are trying to get to work. These are the people who are already hit by the outrageously high fuel prices - prices which are still mainly tax going to the Government. Total taxes on roads use are £50 billion and there is no excuse for this toll tax on top of that."

    "Gordon Brown lives not far from Edinburgh so he will know that the people there voted three to one against the idea in the February 2005 "Toll Poll". If the Government believe that people will support their crazy scheme, then they must also allow the people affected in England to have a vote."

  • D Day after the announcement - This afternoon the Government announced that they were backing the tolls plan. The announcement was made in the Commons and at the same time at Rochdale Town Hall. Some MART protestors were at Rochdale but the building was sealed and it seems that most of the main toll conspirators did not use the main entrance.
    The choice of Rochdale for the announcement was possibly designed by Labour to make sure that the execution rope also went round the neck of the Lib Dems.
    The tolls plan has been backed by the usual toll advocates including Friends of the Earth and the RAC Foundation. It is also backed by a few firms who may be hoping that they won't have to wait till they get to heaven to get any reward. Almost everyone else seems to have seen through the bribe, and decided that whatever else they do not want tolls -
    GMPTE press release   DfT press release   BBC - "Manchester C-charge plans backed"   Crain's - "C-charge scheme's £2.8bn carrot"   Rochdale Online - "Reaction to the Manchester congestion charge plan - How will the town benefit?"   Middleton Guardian - "C-charge a step closer".

  • Some of the foreign coverage - CNN Europe - "Second UK city to introduce car toll" (USA) - "Second UK City to Adopt Congestion Tax".

  • New anti toll website - GMMG who already had a website have now launched another - Crain's - "C-charge opponents launch website"   the new site.

  • Bolton Leader confirms that Bolton will have a referendum - Bolton News - "Council leader's C-charge pledge".

  • D Day - David Ottewell blog - "C-charge: more than your job's worth?"   MEN - "C-charge: You could still have say"   Times - "Comment: a £3 billion sweetner lies at heart of Manchester congestion charge plan"   Guardian - "Manchester congestion charge gets green light"   MEN - "C-charge a step closer"   BBC - "Manchester C-charge 'to go ahead'"   Association of British Drivers - "Triple Tax Whammy Could Trigger Summer of Discontent".
    A view from one of the toll supporters - Manchester Confidential - "A revolution in transport to be approved".

  • Not the toll, yet - Tech World - "Big Brother is alive and well in Manchester".

  • Bolton Leader confirms that Bolton will have a referendum - Bolton News - "Council leader's C-charge pledge".

    Sunday 8 June 2008
  • Demo - Following a meeting of MART it was decided to have a small demo tomorrow at Rochdale Town Hall, where according to the leaks a Government statement is expected about 3.30.

  • More on tomorrow - Reports following Politics Show - BBC - "Congestion zone 'will hit Labour'"   Guardian / PA - "Labour warned over C-charge for Manchester"   David Ottewell Blog - "Congestion charge: buckle up".

    Saturday 7 June 2008
  • Bit more in MEN - "What next for C-charge?". It seems that some of what the Government and the councils have been hiding from the people since last August is already known to the MEN. Though some of this is nonsense. It is said that - "some significant changes to the original plans have been made, including the scrapping of separate, smaller charge zones around the satellite towns" - the extension of the tolled area is part of the original plans, but it was decided before last August that this would not be included in the phase one submission to the Government. The MEN also repeats the assertion that if seven out of the ten councils say yes, then the others have to accept the plan to introduce road tolls. Under the present law this is not so, neither AGMA nor the GMPTA have the power to order the highway authorities to do this.

  • More reports on Monday is D Day - BBC - "Congestion charging decision due"   MEN - "City gets the Green Light"   Rochdale Online - "Congestion charging/Metrolink to town decision due"   Times - "Manchester split over plan for commuter-only congestion charge"   Telegraph - "Road pricing: first scheme outside of London to be announced for Manchester".

  • "United City" get more help - From the North West Government quango - "Businesses rally round congestion charge bid".

    Friday 6 June 2008
  • Monday is D Day - From Crain's - "TIF award announcement expected on Monday". Though there are no other reports on the web, other sources confirm that Crain's are correct and the Government has decided to jump off the cliff.

    Thursday 5 June 2008
  • "United City" - It appears that following the urging of the Manchester Council bosses, a pro toll business group has been formed - "United City". The clients of the firm that has registered the new site include various Government agencies and "Friends of the Earth"; the group seems to have the same PR firm as the one that was working for the Councils when the road tolls submission was announced.

    According to Crain's - "New business group forms to support TIF bid", the support of the new group for the road tolls plan has conditions, but the conditions mean nothing as they repeat what the Council have already said. According to website the members of the new group include - "high street chain Timpson, Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy's Latium Group and property development companies Bruntwood, Ask Developments, Property Alliance and Urban Splash .. and partnership bodies such as CityCo, Manchester's city centre management company, Piccadilly Partnership and the new City South Partnership". How many of these bodies receive money from the Councils or depend on them for things such as planning permission or even have councillors or council bosses on their boards?

    Manchester Confidential also feature this - "Congestion Charging: The Empire Strikes Back". This story seems to be set in an alternate reality. The story says that the MEN has been supporting the opposition to road tolls!! The story also says about GMMG - "They have occasionally gone too far as well. The campaign to unseat Roger Jones (a TIF bigwig) from his Salford Council ward at the recent local elections was vicious..and worked. It bore some similarity to one of those unregulated, bent as a nine-bob note, eighteenth century election campaigns, although GMMG did stop short of beating up voters for the other side and doling out free beer.".

    PS Story in the MEN - "Big guns' war on car charges".

    Wednesday 4 June 2008
  • Drawing back? - We don't know who David Ottewell's sources are, but he now suggests that an announcemnet on the road tolls plan is NOT imminent - MEN Blog - "C-charge: delayed again?". He later had this - MEN Blog - "The bid goes on".

    Tuesday 3 June 2008
  • Getting closer to jump off cliff - Crain's - "Expect TIF announcement soon, say Cabinet ministers"   MEN - "'Buoyant' future ahead - Darling".

    Monday 2 June 2008
  • Carrot? - The transport and toll bosses are talking about a tram to the Trafford Centre and buying up land in the area. It is not clear whether this is a carrot or something else - Crain's - "Transport bosses put forward plans for Trafford Centre link".

  • Prime Minister ready to jump off cliff - David Ottewell in his MEN Blog says - "I've been asked a few times for my best guess as to when Greater Manchester will hear if its Transport Innovation Fund bid has been successful. Definitely the middle of this month - and intelligence suggests we will get most, if not all, of what we asked for." Presumably what he says has been whispered in his ear by someone from the Government and is correct, if so it seems that Gordon Brown has been persuaded to commit electoral suicide.

    Thursday 29 May 2008
  • Recomendation? - John Prescott says that he is in favour of a toll for Manchester, as it is "best able to be able to do it - Manchester is a real thriving city" - MEN - "Prezza brought to book". Are there any other misfortunes that Manchester will be able to survive?

  • Writing on the wall in Crain's Business paper - The editorial this week said - "Greater Manchester's congestion charging plans are less and less likely ever to be implemented. Why? Because the political will is quitely evaporating. When he lost his safe seat .. (the GMPTA boss).. said he would now be looking for a job for the first time since he left school .. His income from politics was pretty much stopped by his defeat at the hands of an anti-congestion charge campaigner. Another casualty was .. the vice chair of the GMPTA's policy committee. Other supporters of charging must be looking over their shoulders.
    .. Meanwhile Manchester Against Road Tolls has successfully campaigned for a mayoral referendum in Bury and will now do the same in Bolton, where jittery councillors have also pledged a public vote before congestion charging is introduced. Central Government will have the final say .. (but) who on earth thinks Gordon has any appetite for another unpopular raid on the wallets of ordinary people?"

    Tuesday 27 May 2008
  • Cheers! - Crain's - "Major pub operator comes out against congestion charge".

  • Cheering on - the Chamber of Commerce continues to act as cheer leader for the tolls plan - MEN - "Chamber view: Long way to go". When the NAAT was fighting the Edinburgh tolls plan, most of the businesses sat on the fence, but this was better than what has happened in Manchester.   Edinburgh Evening News - "Chamber celebrates its 2000th member".

    Saturday 24 May 2008
  • "Stealth health tax" - Letter in Tuesday's Sale Messenger.

  • Blowing a fuse - MEN Monday - "Power failure sparks tram chaos". Was it just chance that this happened only a few days after the trams got a lot more money?

  • "Do nothing is not a congestion option" - The mantra coined up by the DfT spin machine was being used by the Leader of Stockport's Labour group in the Stockport Times last week. Though he expanded on it a bit by ruling out one other option - improving roads - as he said this would mean the loss of houses. He also quoted from the toll advocates report saying that 30,000 jobs will be lost if the tolls are not introduced. What the report actually said is that it was forecast that there would be 210,000 new jobs growth in Manchester over the next 10/15 years, but that as a result of congestion etc 30,000 jobs of these extra jobs would not be created. It would be better if the politicans were worrying about how all these extra people were going to be housed etc, rather than working out how they can extort more money from drivers apparently with the aim of cramming even more people into the area.

    Thursday 22 May 2008
  • "Norwich decision "reinforces" opposition to Manchester congestion charge" - Crain's.

  • Selling the tram toll - Oldham Advertiser - "Plans at last for the trams"   South Manchester Reporter - "Trams to Chorlton by 2012 - but what about Didsbury?".

  • More mumbo jumbo - David Ottewell's blog in MEN on Wednesday - "That rather crucial "two-thirds" thing...". This is interesting but irrelevant. AGMA is just a club without any powers, they can't force a local authority to do something that it does not want to.

  • Rochdale Labour against Con - Rochdale Online on Wednesday - "McCarthy new chairman of Heywood Township".

  • Where wise men fear to tread - David Ottewell's blog in MEN on Tuesday - "Courage, strength, leadership"   MEN on Tuesday - "No U-turn on road tolls"   This is Lancashire on Monday - "MP Ruth Kelly backs congestion charge".

  • The cameras are here - MEN on Monday - "Spy cameras sweep the city".

  • Business view - Crain's on Monday - "Jones blames Peel for voters' wrath".

  • Firms escaping - Crain's on Monday - "Anti c-charge firms look to Orbit for outer space". It seems that the authorities and their allies have managed to fool most firms, as the plan is that the M60 is only the boundary for phase one. Later pahses will extend the tolls to the Greater Manchester boundary.

    Sunday 18 May 2008
  • "Kelly backs c-charge" - The MEN infers that the Transport Secretary is about to agree to the multi billion road tolls plan for Greater Manchester. This could be wishful thinkinhg by the MEN, or it could really be that the Transport Secretary (and by implication the rest of the Goverenmnt) have lost any contact with reality. Mrs Kelly says about the road tolls that "not one single person .. raised it as an issue." That is probably because Bolton Labour party and their allies were successful in persuading people that road tolls would not affect Bolton.

    Friday 16 May 2008
  • More tram money - MEN - "'Little Bang' on track at last"   DfT press release.

    Tuesday 13 May 2008
  • Mayor? - MEN - "Would Manchester benefit from having an elected mayor?".

    Monday 12 May 2008
  • "Bonkers" - MEN - "Congestion charge bid 'bonkers'".
    Hansard report of what Graham Stringer said to Committee on Thursday 8th when they were looking at "Local charging schemes to implement policies of ITAs" (click on bottom of pages to continue). What is strange reading the Hansard report is that Graham Stringer appears to have moved an amendment to require referenda before tolls can be introduced and then voted against his own amendment. For a summary of the debate see our main News page.

    Friday 9 May 2008
  • More of the usual - MEN - "M60 delays getting longer". It seems from this story that congestion is getting worse and that the RAC backs road tolls. Both those statements are true. BUT:
    The RAC like the AA is a private company that masquerades as a motorists organisation. As to the congestion, what these government figures show is that the average vehicle delay on the slowest 10 per cent of journeys over 3 years has gone up from 3.78 minutes to 3.95 minutes. That is an extra 10 seconds. How stupid do they think people are that they will fall for road tolls to possibly save 10 seconds?

  • Possible new Tolls boss - Rochdale Online- "Knowles in line to take top job". Apart from the question of who will replace Roger Jones, it says that "the Electoral Commission is investigating the role of Trafford Centre owners Peel Holdings" in carrying out an opinion survey in the ward. What a pity that there doesn't appear to be any independent body to monitor and comment on what the authorities get up to.
    Rochdale Online also reports the Labour MP for Heywood & Middleton, Jim Dobbin, as saying - "The Lib Dems increased their overall control of Rochdale Council. It would appear that the local electors are happy to accept the Lib Dems' support for the congestion charge that is coming in." More likely in our view that the voters have not yet twigged what is going on.

    Thursday 8 May 2008
  • Not "something to wrap your chips in" - Middleton Guardian - "We're always there for you".

    Wednesday 7 May 2008
  • Oldham Lib Dems back road tolls - Oldham Advertiser - "Anyone for change?". People who voted Lib Dem may be a bit surprised as the Lib Dem statement published on the eve of the election made no mention of "congestion charging". Lord Sykes by the way was in the paper on 30 November 2005 - Councillor Howard Sykes, Liberal Democrat group leader, said the scheme could lead to chaotic scenes with motorists forced back onto A roads and likened it to "putting the cart before the horse." He said: "The evidence from London is that people living right on the edge of the charging area get hit hardest. Before we can even think about this we need effective, integrated public transport. That's what we haven't got now - whether that's in terms of the lack of Metrolink or the buses we currently have. Such a charge would not help our economy provide quality jobs and if it started at the M60 boundary, for example, would have a negative ripple effect around that area."

    Tuesday 6 May 2008
  • One view of Rochdale transport spending (see comments added to story) - Middleton Guardian 2nd May.

  • "Manchester congestion charge in doubt" - Report in What Car who seem to be speaking to the toll advocates and don't mention MART.

  • One view of Rochdale transport spending (see comments added to story) - Middleton Guardian 2nd May.

  • Report in Times on Irlam result - "Manchester polls deal blow to congestion charge expansion".

    Monday 5 May 2008
  • More on - Road tolls not a factor in election? - It seems that we have at least one person who at sometime has looked at this page - journalist David Ottewell who also has a politics blog in the MEN - "For whom the toll... tolls". David mentions a couple of things -
    1. Freedom of Information. We don't know how far he has taken his FoI application. The NAAT request was to the Government (DfT), who refused, were asked to review the decision, again refused and then we apppealed to the Information Commissioner who seems to sit on these things till they are only of interest to historians. Any suggestion that there may be a legitimate reason to withold information because of "competitive advantage" is nonsense. Even if likely contractors have not yet seen the documents they would see them long before any contracts might go out to tender. The only reason that the GMPTA and the Government are keeping the documents secret is to deny information to the people of Greater Manchester and to create a vacuum which tends to stifle debate.
    2. As to whether the "charge" was an issue in the local elections. We never said that it was, the authorities did their best to keep the issue out of the news and delayed the result of the TIF submission till after the elections, and many of those who voted for the plans have given voters a different impression. The only real test was in Irlam.

    Sunday 4 May 2008
  • Road tolls not a factor in election? - David Ottewell blog in the MEN is - "Was the c-charge a factor?".
    David suggests that the "congestion charge" was not much of a factor in Thursday's elections. He may be right but he ignores two important points.
    The first is that in areas such as Bolton, the Labour leader despite voting for the road toll plans has repeatedly claimed that he opposes any tolls that would affect Bolton - within the last week the Bolton News said "Cllr Morris repeated his vow to oppose any congestion charge on routes into Bolton". Even the MEN has quoted the Labour leader as saying "I know what the people of Bolton want. They do not want the congestion charge". All parties in Bolton have also promised that there would be a referendum on the road toll plans - this is almost the same as killing the idea.
    The other point is that readers of the MEN are almost completely in the dark on the issue and what the authorities have been up to. The only other area to make a TIF submission is Cambridgeshire. The details of their proposals were on the county's website within a few days. In Greater Manchester not even the Council Leaders have seen the secret plans that they signed up to, and a Freedom of Information Act request by the NAAT at the beginning of August was denied. David according to his blog in January made a similar request that was denied. He said "I'll be challenging the decision, naturally" What happened and where has the MEN told readers of the paper that it is all being kept from them? (The only reference to anything like this was the Salford Times in March asking for details of how much the tolls would be.)

    David also mention the nearest that we have so far come to a referendum - the contest for Irlam where the man most identified with the toll plans was standing and was pushed into third place. David dismisses this as the "seat was already pretty marginal". David does not mention that the transport boss had held the seat since 1982, nor does he explain why Labour apparently did not attempt to defend this "marginal" seat that was occupied by the architect of the tolls plan.

    Saturday 3 May 2008
  • "Jones to carry on with c-charge crusade" - MEN.

  • No change in Oldham - The Lib Dems in Oldham say that they will continue to back tolls as they aren't of "concern to voters" - MEN - "Lid Dem's' 'wait and see' policy".

  • No change in Bolton - The Labour Council boss - "repeated his vow to oppose any congestion charge on routes into Bolton. He promised the council would abide by the decision of voters in a public poll" - Bolton News - "We'll keep pledges, says Labour leader".

    Friday 2 May 2008
  • "Election Rout for Manchester Congestion Charge Champion" - ABD Press release.

  • Tracking - The shape of things to come - A Computing magazine reveals what is in store - "Manchester City Council is currently looking at the Tag and Beacon system, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The Council is working towards a planned introduction date of 2013." - "Road Pricing - driving the debate forward".

  • Roger, over and out -
    (Salford Advertiser)
    In most of Greater Manchester the toll supporters denied thrice that they were, which made it confusing for voters.
    It also means that the net gain for each party does not mean much as in many of the districts not only were there false claims from Labour and Lib Dems that they opposed the tolls, there were also many Labour and Lib Dem candidates who genuinely opposed the tolls.
    But there was one ward where the issue was clear cut and that was Irlam in Salford where the Transport boss who is the figurehead for the tolls plan was standing. He went from first place to third -
    Salford Advertiser - "Shocks in Salford as Jones is out"   Manchester Evening News - "Transport boss loses seat"   MEN - "Setbacks for Labour in Salford"   Crain's - "Leading pro-congestion charge campaigner drubbed at the polls"

  • Duped - One of the areas where toll supporters managed to fool the voters was Bolton. The Bolton Labour Leader had voted for tolls but denied that the tolls would have any effect on the people of Bolton. It just goes to show that you can fool most of the people (for now) - MEN - "Tories disappointed in Bolton".

    Thursday 1 May 2008
  • "Decision day at the polls" - MEN.

    Wednesday 30 April 2008
  • "Peel Holdings lobby businesses over congestion charging" - Rochdale Online.

  • "Cameron: 'It's Bolton ... or bust'" - MEN.

    Tuesday 29 April 2008
  • "Bolton election battle lines drawn up" - Bolton News.

    Monday 28 April 2008
  • "Congestion becomes election issue" - Radio One.

  • "Crunch vote for C-charge" - The MEN has got it correct for once. The only problem being that most people are still in the dark about the road tolls scheme. In Edinburgh in the first election after the abortive attempt to bring in road tolls, the electors showed Labour the exit door. If the pro tollers win in Manchester, then they should thank the MEN.

  • Bolton vote PS - This is the motion that was moved last Wednesday by the Tories, but defeated by Labour and Lib Dems -
    "Members of this Council have previously stated their opposition to congestion charging which impacts on the public of Bolton. Under the TIF bid travellers by car to and from Manchester at peak times will be hit by the congestion charge. The congestion charge proposals as currently constructed within the submitted TIF bid will therefore impact on residents of Bolton. It follows therefore that congestion charges as proposed within the current TIF bid, even without any potential future extension to Bolton, will hit Bolton residents.
    As the TIF bid is predicated on £1.8billion being raised from congestion charges and only £1.2billion from HM Government with not alternative funding options, it necessarily follows that the TIF bid as submitted is unsustainable. Accordingly, this Council resolves to request the Executive to advise AGMA and HM Government that it can no longer support the TIF bid as submitted"

    Saturday 26 April 2008
  • "GREATER Manchester is set to learn by the middle of next month whether it will get £3bn in return for congestion charging" - More disinformation from the MEN if people just read the start of this story, as the amount that will be given to the city is a lot less than £3bn and a large slice of that will go in the costs of setting up the road tolls scheme. If the rest of the story is correct then it seems that the city is to get the bad news about road tolls immediately after the elections - let's hope that voters are not fooled by this - MEN - "Decision 'soon' on c-charge deal".

  • Election campaign - Labour's Neil Kinnock backs the Manchester road toll plans (he seems to be one up on everyone else as he says that he has seen the secret plans) - MEN - "Kinnock: Let's not over-react". George Osbourne for the Tories says that "People in Manchester have paid their taxes and should not have to endure having to have a congestion charge to get investment in local transport." - MEN - "Osbourne: Brown hasn't a clue".

    Friday 25 April 2008
  • Bolton Tories - MART is not party political and in any case the position of the three main parties is not consistent from one district to the next, but in Bolton the Tories are actually saying that the town needs better roads - This is Lancashire - "Tories: We will tidy up the town".

  • Bury Mayor - Plans for the Mayoral election - MEN - "Super mayor blueprint".

    Thursday 24 April 2008
  • Last night's Council votes in Bolton and Rochdale - At Bolton, the Tories moved a motion that the borough have nothing to do with the toll scheme, but the motion was defeated by Labour and Lib Dem votes. In Rochdale there was a Tory motion that there be a referendum or "Toll Poll" on the issue in 5 weeks time. A Labour amendment that the poll be in 13 weeks was accepted, but then the amended motion was defeated by the votes of the Lib Dems - BBC - "Road charge opposition defeated"   Rochdale Online - "Disappointment for Manchester Against Road Tolls"   Rochdale Online - "People denied their say on congestion charging".
    David Ottewell in the MEN had a different view of what the Bolton vote meant - "C-charge: the vote that matters".
    We sent this statement out - "We are disappointed that the two Councils are still supporting the road toll plans and that they have not joined the three councils that already oppose it - Stockport, Trafford and Bury. Under the present law, no council can be forced into having tolls on its roads, but it has been suggested that if six or seven out of the ten councils still want road tolls, then the others will somehow be forced to do the same.

    Bolton and some of the other councils who support road tolls seem to be living in a fantasy world, as they seem to think that the tolls will not affect their borough. But people wherever they live will be affected by the first phase if they cross either of the two toll cordons, one of which is the M60. Even if drivers do not have to cross the M60 for work or travelling to shops, colleges and hospitals, they will be affected by later phases where the intention is to spread the tolls to other main roads within the Greater Manchester boundary.

    The Council Leaders who voted for this toll plan back in last July actually voted for the submission to the Government of a document that it seems they had not seen. They may have been happy to do this but at the beginning of August, MART made a Freedom of Information Act request to see what had been submitted. The Government refused to release any of the documents and we are still waiting on the result of an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

    If this road tolls scheme goes ahead it will have a dramatic effect on people and businesses. It is a great pity that over 8 months after the tolls plan was submitted all of us are still being kept in the dark."
    Reports just before the vote - BBC - "Authority votes on road charging"   Middleton Guardian - "New referendum bid over Toll Tax"   This is Lancashire - "Polls look set for a head-on collision".

  • DC in Salford - Salford Advertiser - "This charming man David". DC says "It's one thing to say we need better roads, improved public transport and cut down on petrol emissions. But to say this can only be achieved by imposing a blanket congestion charge on everyone, is nothing short of blackmail." Unfortunately last week in Yorkshire he spoke about the need for "local tolls" on "local roads".

    Wednesday 23 April 2008
  • More votes - There have been a series of motions on road tolls debated at some of the ten Manchester district Councils over the last two months. Tonight there are two more - at Bolton and Rochdale. They could be crucial to the future of the road tolls plan.   MEN - "Tories to reject TIF bid" (Bolton)   Rochdale Online - "Road charging vote could scupper plans".

  • Report on the ward of the Toll Boss - Channel M video.

  • Mixed up message - From the Government development Quango - England North West - "Green status 'worth millions' says Chamber director". The Chamber of Commerce presumably intended to divert attention away from road tolls and get people to concentrate on all the "free" sweeties though some other people have interpreted this as the Chamber no longer backing road tolls - - "Manchester 'should promote itself as a green city'".

    Monday 21 April 2008
  • Gone missing - At the weekend the Bolton News had a story which included - "Under a Labour Council it says the controversial congestion charge will not be introduced in the town". We wonder why the story is no longer on the web site?

  • New sales pitch - A boss from the Chamber of Commerce, who have been trying to sell the idea of road tolls, says that road tolls will mean that Manchester will attract new businesses "as the UK's low-carbon capital" - Crain's Business News - "Green status 'worth millions' says Chamber director".

  • A different view - One business says that it would not have located in the area if it knew that there would be a charge - Crain's Business News - "Congestion charge 'will drive staff away'". The story has a bit on the FPB who withdrew their support for the anti toll business group.

    Saturday 19 April 2008
  • News? - This is Lancashire - "Congestion charge when crossing M60".

  • Bolton Tories Manifesto - This is Lancashire - "Bolton Tories planning to reduce town hall jobs".

  • April fool - There is currently supposed to be a "purdah" where the Government by convention do not make any public spending announcements that might affect the local elections. That apparently does not stop the MEN Blog from issuing a story saying that Manchester may be given even more than £3 billion if it brings in road tolls. As most of the £3 billion is due to come from road tolls and not the Government, isn't the MEN a bit late with this April fool?   MEN - "£3bn plus?".

  • Haulier's views - a late report from the tolls sales talk of a week ago that went wrong (is that why it is late?) - MEN - "C-charge 'will hit city economy'".

    Friday 18 April 2008
  • GMMG PR - Some views from the Kellogs / Greater Manchester Momentum Group press officer - How do.

    Thursday 17 April 2008
  • "Not in the public interest" for people to know what the toll planners are up to - Middleton Guardian - "Toll Tax could be £7.50 - not £5".

    Wednesday 16 April 2008
  • MART flashes it - Tameside Advertiser - "We're not just a flash in the pan".

    Tuesday 15 April 2008

  • Good for Preston - Lancashire Evening Post - "City could profit from congestion charge 'refugees'".

    Monday 14 April 2008
  • FOEs - MEN - "Gridlock 'will make c-charge inevitable'". Is the FOE boss looking glum because of last week's decision in New York?
    The FOE vision of the future seems to be a planet that is bursting at the seams but all is OK, because there will be nothing left to consume - "Why is Friends of the Earth not campaigning against overpopulation?" and we will be priced off the roads - "What is Friends of the Earth's view on road pricing?" (includes link to report).

  • Flash Mob on Saturday 26th April - Tameside MART.

  • Forum for Private Business pulls out of Anti toll group - Crain's - "Our View: No more accidents"   Crain's - "FPB cuts ties with c-charge protest group".

  • Free parking for the tollers - Crain's - "Tax break to leave cars at home".

  • Lorries go toll free - Crain's - "What's News". Amazing, but will the hauliers believe it?

    Thursday 11 April 2008
  • Haulage businesses question one of the Tolls Bosses - MEN video - "Congestion Charge quiz".

    Wednesday 9 April 2008
  • Over the water - New York State has declined the offer of "congestion pricing" - MEN - "NYC congestion plan blocked". The New York plan was similar to that proposed for Manchester, it was a cordon based toll and there was a bribe on offer from the Federal Government. There is a lot more about the "Bloomberg tolls" on our main news page.

    Tuesday 8 April 2008
  • Local Elections - the choice - MEN - "C-charge: Voters get their say". The road tolls issue will play a part in the elections, though it will be difficult for voters as many of the Council leaders and party groups who have voted for road tolls will deny it. There should really be a vote on this one issue, but there won't be one as the politicians and those who pull the strings know that they would not be able to fool the people if there was a Toll Poll.

  • Opposition for Bolton Toll Leader - Bolton News - "England cricketer's dad hoping to topple council leader".

    Saturday 5 April 2008
  • Toll speak The MEN publicises a report which says "people living and working in regional cities need to accept new revenue streams to fund the necessary investment in transport". Is "new revenue streams" now the official name for road tolls?   MEN - "Lack of transport cash damaging".

    Thursday 3 April 2008
  • Another report on last week's Commons Debate - Middleton Guardian - "We are being blackmailed to bring in toll tax - M.P.".

    Wednesday 2 April 2008
  • Commons Debate - Report on what Graham Stringer said in last weeks's Local Transport / Road Tolls Bill debate in the Commons - Rochdale Online - "MP hits out at 'subsidy junkies'".

    Tuesday 1 April 2008
  • Politicians start to spend road tolls - though the decision to have road tolls "will now be announced after the May local elections and there will follow three months of public consultation" - Rochdale Online - "Metrolink contract set to be signed".

    Monday 31 March 2008
  • "Race" - MEN - "Rival quits race for transport cash". They must hope that people in the Manchester area are completely doolally. There are only two contenders in this "race" to jump over the cliff.

  • More on "blackmail" - MEN - "Tory's c-charge blackmail claim".

    Saturday 29 March 2008
  • Top Tory attacks Toll - This is Lancashire - "Bolton road charging plan 'is blackmail'".

    Thursday 27 March 2008
  • Reaction to decision delay - Rochdale Online - "Frustration at yet more Metro delays".

  • Tolls Bill - Yesterday the "Local Transport Bill" which makes it easier for local authorities to toll roads had its Second Reading. Mark Hunter, the Lib Dem MP for Cheadle asked - "What is her view of the current situation in Greater Manchester, with which she will be familiar? Seven of the 10 boroughs are apparently in favour of such a scheme, but the other three are most definitely not. Does she intend that the Government will continue with their policy and effectively force the scheme on the rest of the conurbation of Greater Manchester, whether it likes it or not?". The answer from the Minister was - "Obviously, the discussions about the Manchester transport innovation fund bid are still going on, and we will examine the proposals when they come to us."
    Theresa Villiers for the Tories wants there to be power to hold proper Toll Polls and she said - "We will table amendments to empower and encourage local authorities to hold referendums either before introducing such schemes or once they have been up and running for a trial period. We do not seek to mandate this approach, but we wish to send the signal that a referendum should always be seriously considered as an option, and we will seek to clarify the legal status of local referendums. It is a concern in Bolton, for example, that should the referendum that the local authority is contemplating in that area go ahead, it would have no legal status at all." But as the Tories would leave it up to the councillors whether they have a Toll Poll, this is all a bit meaningless.

  • More tolls pushing - the Chamber of Commerce have organised another meeting for businesses to be told how wonderful the road tolls plan is - Crain's - "Congestion charge breakfast is April 9".

    Tuesday 25 March 2008
  • Bury Poll - MEN - "Elected mayor referendum in July".

  • The New Spinners - Crain's Business News reports that - "Manchester-based PR consultancy Hasgrove will handle media relations for the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities' Transport Innovation Fund bid from April... The Department for Transport is set to feedback to AGMA on the TIF bid, which could lead to £3bn in funding for the area to improve its public transport network alongside the introduction of a road-pricing zone, in March...". Though it seems that the spin is wobbling a bit, if they are talking about releasing anything before the March elections.

  • New Quango boss - Crain's Business News also reports that the Government Quango that is supposed to look after development in the North West and which has been pushing road tolls is about to get a new boss - "On the Street and Off the Cuff".

  • Musing about effect on Bolton - Bolton News - "Congestion charging: We need the full picture".

    Monday 24 March 2008
  • Wonderland - The Bolton Council leader wonders what was in the road tolls submission that went to the Government last summer - Bolton News - "Give us detail on road tolls, say councillors". Perhaps he and all the other leaders who agreed to road tolls should have found out more before they signed up to the scheme.

    Saturday 22 March 2008
  • "Exclusive"? - MEN - "Delayed decision on C-charge". Are David Ottewell and the MEN "'avin a laff"? A two year old would already know that the chances of the Government announcing a decision before the May elections is zero.

  • More on £5 PLUS - Salford Advertiser - "£7.50 - Likely cost per day for Toll Tax in 2013".

    Thursday 20 March 2008
  • £5 PLUS - MEN - "C-charge may start at £7.50".

  • Labour rejects a Toll Poll for people of Salford - Salford Advertiser - "Public won't get say on Toll Tax for now".

    Wednesday 12 March 2008
  • The Budget - MEN - "Road charge moves closer" (see also the main news page).

    Tuesday 11 March 2008
  • Tolls boss survey - Crain's - "Peel Holdings researches C-charge advocates' wards".
    Note - The original story about the chairman of GMPTA complaining because of the opinion survey carried out by Peel in his ward was at - MEN - "Transport boss slams Peel", but the story is no longer there.

  • Boss's Orders - The master tells Manchester developers that he expects them to help sell the road tolls plan - Property Week - "Bernstein's transport plea".

  • Bolton vote not to have a toll poll in May - Labour and the Lib Dems combined to reject the Tory proposal - This is Lancashire - "'No' to May poll vote on congestion charges".
    PS The story in the MEN - "Bolton waits on c-charge vote" includes an interesting quote from the Labour Council Leader. He says - "I know what the people of Bolton want. They do not want the congestion charge." We wonder if Ruth Kelly also knows.

    Monday 10 March 2008
  • Deloittes do somersault - On Friday the consultancy and accounting firm denied that they opposed road toll plans, today they praised road toll plans - Rochdale Online - "Top firm does a U-turn on congestion charge". The firm makes money from these con schemes "in the UK and around the world".

  • Bolton vote on toll poll tonight - MEN - "Tories push for c-charge vote".
    Sean Corker of MART and the Association of British Drivers issued a press release which ended - ".....Manchester Against Road Tolls and the ABD support this initiative in Bolton. We believe that the principle of congestion charging should be put to a public vote as soon as possible. Should the referendum go ahead, the ABD believes the rejection of a similar scheme by Edinburgh voters and the 1.8 million petition to Downing Street leave little doubt that the vote will be a resounding "NO" to AGMA's road pricing plans."

  • From Crain's Business News - "M60 in hard shoulder jam busting plans"   "Our View: M60 trial is worth a go". CBN appear to be unaware that the Government has said that any extra lanes may be tolled. Apart from the cost of the tolls, this is a recipe for a lot of lane switching and accidents.

    Friday 7 March 2008
  • Deloittes back out - MEN - "Deloitte boss speaks on c-charge". As the firm relies on contracts with various organisations it is not surprising that it does not want to upset the road toll bosses.

    Thursday 6 March 2008
  • Bury petition - There is only one man in Bury who supports road tolls, and he does not want other people to have any vote on the matter - This is Lancashire - "Still no vote on roads charge".

  • More on the Shape of things to come - updated version of yesterday's story - MEN - "'Green corridor' plan hailed". The Manchester bosses organisation is again promoting the road tolls scheme. Is this really a separate organisation or is it just part of the Councils' spin machine?

    Wednesday 5 March 2008
  • "Kelly: it's up to you" - David Ottewell in his MEN blog. You can see all of what was said in yesterday's Commons debate using the link on our main news page.

  • Shape of things to come? - If the toll scheme goes ahead then they will increase congestion by closing more road space - MEN - "Car ban on green route".

    Tuesday 4 March 2008
  • More on - The toll is dead, long live the toll - The Government spin machine has got themselves in a bit of a tangle on thsi. For latest assessment of what has / has not happened, see the main NEWS page.
    This is what David Ottewell has to say in his MEN blog about it - "Is the charge to charging over?".

  • The toll is dead, long live the toll - From leaks in the Guardian and elsewhere it seems that the Government will today announce that they are indefinitely abandoning plans for national road tolls, BUT that the Manchester toll scheme will go ahead.

  • Further brief report on a Bolton Toll Poll - MEN - "Bolton tories propose c-charge vote".

  • News? - MEN - "Peel in c-charge warning"   MEN - "Peel against road pricing".

  • Businesses against the toll - Rochdale Online - "The Greater Manchester Momentum Group".

  • Rochdale Poll - The tolls boss (from Salford) thinks that a tolls poll in Rochdale is not a good idea - Rochdale Online - "Road-fee referendum gets cool reception".

    Monday 3 March 2008
  • Letter from Roger - Crain's Business News has a letter from Manchester's transport and tolls boss - "The C-charge will revolutionise travel".

    Saturday 1 March 2008
  • Another? letter from businesses to councillors - This story is similar to one we had on 22nd January. We don't know if this is another letter or the post has been held up!   Rochdale Online - "New concern over congestion charge".

    Friday 29 February 2008
  • One view on a Bolton Toll Poll - David Ottewell Blog in MEN - "C-charge: the endgame?". It is Friday, but David seems to be living on a different planet. He repeats the claim that the tolls will go ahead if seven out of the ten districts support it (we wonder if he can quote a formal document that says this), and then he appears to believe that it is really possible that a majority of people will vote for road tolls. One of his points we would agree with - "read very, very carefully" the statements that the politicians make in the run up to May's elections.

  • Another report on a Bolton Toll Poll - MEN - "Bolton set for c-charge vote".

  • Another report on the gravy train - Middleton Guardian - "Nearly £10M spent on 31 consultancies".

    Thursday 28 February 2008
  • Bolton to have a Toll Poll - The Tories want the poll to be at the same time as the local elections - Bolton News - "Go-ahead for congestion charge poll".

  • Petition to Ruth - Labour MP Graham Stringer hands in a petition to Ruth Kelly, as well as being the Queen Bee of Tolls she is also MP for Bolton West - Middleton Guardian - "Guardian urges 'say no'".

    Tuesday 26 February 2008
  • One con or another? - Congestion or carbon - MEN - "Chamber view: Carbon charging?". The Chamber of Commerce says that the "GMPTA will decide to be forthcoming with the details of the scheme as soon as possible, enabling a truly informed debate". The Chamber have been one of the main toll advocates. Not even the councillors have seen what was submitted to the Government in their name, so how did the Chamber decide to back the tolls scheme?
    The Federation of Small Businesses have a slightly less rosy view of the Con - MEN - "Darling urged to Help small firms".

  • Booby prize - The MEN suggests that as some sort of compensation for the super casino plan being abandoned the Government will agree to the road tolls scheme - "'Payoff' as casino is axed".

    Monday 25 February 2008
  • At the front of the tolls queue - The MEN has got some details of the spending on preparing the tolls submission - MEN - "Consultants' £6.5m c-charge bid". Interesting that the MEN used a Freedom of Information request to get this information. MART have made a similar request for a copy of whatever was submitted to the Government on behalf (supposedly) of the people of Greater Manchester - the Government have refused to release anything at all - would they give it to the MEN?

    Friday 22 February 2008
  • Lib Dem leader, Chamber of Commerce boss (and a cyclist) back road tolls - Report of an event organised by the pro road tolls MEN - MEN - "Climate change - The debate" includes poll on climate laws   MEN - "Climate change: Tough laws". What a pity that the new national Lib Dem leader did not ask the Lib Dems in Stockport why they were not backing the scheme. The Chamber of Comerce boss says that her members are "hugely split" but that opponents are more "noisy". Despite that spilt their own survey showed that the majority of their members were against the current TIF submission, even though they were only given the pro tolls side of the case, and MART was refused an opportunity to give the other side.

    Thursday 21 February 2008
  • One of the road toll bosses moves on - As she was only getting £75,000 no wonder - MEN - "Transport boss moves on".

  • More on the Posters that mislead people - No it's not any of the many thousands of adverts that impel you to rush out and buy brand X of whiskey or whatever it's those evil ads against road tolls - This is Lancashire - "Congestion charge posters are banned".

  • Bolton Lib Dems want a referendum - Includes over 50 comments - Bolton News - "VOTE: Road charge plan: Call for referendum".

    Tuesday 19 February 2008
  • Business organisation against the toll - Forum for Private Business press release - "FPB joins campaign against road pricing in Manchester".

    Sunday 17 February 2008
  • MART crosses the ocean - Report on American website - - "UK: Anti-Toll Ad Gets Government OK".

  • A very quick word - From the MEN - "Commuters get to have their say" to the transport bosses. The catch is that it is on the way to work.

    Friday 15 February 2008
  • More on - One law for the authorities, another for those that try and oppose them - David Ottewell's MEN Blog - "Those C-Charge poster rulings in full"   ABD Press release - "Response to ASA Ruling on MART/ABD Poster Campaign".

    Thursday 14 February 2008
  • Three from Crain's Business News - today - "City businesses join together to fight road-pricing bid"   on 11th - "Businesses asked to 'reserve judgement' on road pricing"   on 4th - "Metro is why boroughs back road pricing".

  • One law for the authorities, another for those that try and oppose them - One of the groups that wants to inflict road tolls on to the people of Greater Manchester complained about the various adverts against the tolls last summer. Most of the complaints were rejected, but the ASA upheld a complaint about the "£5" charge as the advert did not say that this was the maximum charge. - MEN - "Anti-toll posters 'misleading'".
    When you see the adverts that they do allow from other organisations and businesses this is a bizarre decision, particularly as the £5 is only what they say it will be for "phase one" and the London toll quickly went up from £5 to £8 and for some vehicles will now be £25. This is also a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black as the leaflets that were distributed to all households by the authorities featured fake "case studies" - BBC - "Congestion leaflet drivers 'fake'" and a large part of the contents was completely and utterly misleading - That leaflet (pdf file).

  • Businesses join together to fight the toll - MEN - "Group's 'no' to road pricing".

  • Reaction to "Ground to a Halt" - BBC- "Free bus 'cogs' poster defended".

  • Concern of Rochdale Labour councillors - Middleton Guardian - "Middleton will become 'giant car park'".

  • Less trains on the line - Macclesfield Express - "Fears for businesses after trains slashed".

  • Concern over proposed new bus station - MEN - "Bus 'threat to Gay Village life'".

    Sunday 10 February 2008
  • Ground to a halt - Press release from the Association of British Drivers, one of MART's main supporters - "Manchester Geared Up For Gridlock?".

    Saturday 9 February 2008
  • Rochdale Lib Dems redraw toll rules - At Wednesday's council meeting in Rochdale, the Labour leader said - "I do not believe this council should have committed itself when so little is known about the details of the congestion charge." As if to prove him right the Council leader (who is a Lib Dem) said - "If you had to cross the M60 to get to an appointment at North Manchester Hospital, you would most likely be able to do that without being charged, because you wouldn't have passed enough cameras." Really? How many cameras do you have to pass? Or is the boundary being redrawn? Or do the Rochdale Lib Dems not have the faintest idea of how the road toll scheme will operate?   Rochdale Observer - "Is this a platform for the future?".

    Friday 8 February 2008
  • More mumbo jumbo - The supporters of tolls know that their policy could mean that they suffer badly in May's election so they are inventing excuses to postpone a decision even though the Government trolls have had the councils submission sine the beginning of August last year - MEN - "C-charge delayed for a year"   Salford Advertiser - "Toll Tax is delayed until 2013".

  • Readers have their say - or at least the readers of the Middleton Guardian and North East Manchester Advertiser do as readers of other MEN titles are mainly fed with spin from the trolls. The editors of the two papers give a petition to Graham Stringer a Labour MP who is not a tolls advocate - Middleton Guardian - "5,000-plus say 'no Toll Tax'".

  • Views on Elected Mayors - MEN - "C-charge: Democracy in action?".

  • National Lib Dems boss backs Manchester road tolls - Let's hope that this does not influence the Stockport Lib Dems who having consulted the people oppose the tolls scheme - Rochdale Online - "Lib Dem leader gives support to road fees".

  • Rochdale Lib Dems commit borough to road tolls - Following Wednesday night's vote of 31 to 23 to back road tolls - Rochdale Online - "Middleton streets could become a giant car park!"   MEN - "C-charge: Rochdale in favour"   Rochdale Online - "Labour opposes Labour, Lib Dem backs Labour - surreal politics!"   Rochdale Online - "GMPTA chairman answers local councillors concerns"   Rochdale Online - "Congestion charging 'sold' to Rochdale councillors".

    Wednesday 6 February 2008
  • Rochdale heading for road tolls - Lib Dems in Rochdale are fighting for imposition of road tolls - Rochdale Online - "Open debate and democracy dead in the water, says Lambert". The tolls fanaticism of some Rochdale Lib Dems is even clearer in what one of their councillors says in this story - Rochdale Online - "Councillor Brett ducks head-to-head!".

    Tuesday 5 February 2008
  • Which way Rochdale? - The Council is to vote on a road tolls motion - David Ottewell's blog in MEN - "That sinking feeling".

    Saturday 2 February 2008
  • End of Wigan row? - The leader of the Community Action Party who was prevented from moving an anti tolls motion has got his tape back but the Council are still threatening that they won't let him use the tape - Wigan Evening Post - "Tape victory for councillor".

    Friday 1 February 2008
  • More on Mayoral petition - MEN - "Bury to vote on mayor".

  • Blog on "For the greens" - MEN David Ottewell - "Greening the c-charge". This just confuses the issue, if you want to reduce vehicle emissions then you do that by laying down rules for the vehicle manufacturers, and through fuel taxes. You don't do it by some probably unworkable system of road tolls.

    Thursday 31 January 2008
  • Mayoral petition - The petition started by Geoffrey Berg (a MART member) was "validated" yesterday by Bury Council. This means that Bury will have to proceed with a referendum on having an elected Mayor by the beginning of July. People may not be bothered either way on the issue of having an elected Mayor or not, but unfortunately as the law stands this is the nearest that we can get to having a referendum on the subject that the politicians know that they would lose - road tolls - This is Lancahsire - "Elected mayor race is on as petition is validated".

    Wednesday 30 January 2008
  • For the greens - The Con Toll has not yet been settled, but already they are talking about concessions for "green" cars, though you would have to be really green to swallow anything that the authorities say - MEN - "C-charge relief for 'green' cars".

  • Alternative? - MEN - "Bigger trains bid rejected".

    Tuesday 29 January 2008
  • Park and don't ride - This is a story that we missed from 7th Jan - Crain's - "Pro-charge councils' free parking perk - Taxpayer subsidises thousands of spaces for staff at boroughs with policy to reduce car use".

  • "Haulage operators will simply avoid the toll zones, creating congestion in other areas" - Another story also from 7th Jan - Crain's - "HGVs and vans would pay more than cars".

    Saturday 26 January 2008
  • Attempt to force road tolls on councils - The club of Greater Manchester bosses want to bring in a constitution which would include the power to force councils to bring in road tolls, but the plans are being opposed by Sue Williams the Tory leader of Trafford Council - MEN - "Council bosses plan summit".

  • "Speed humps 'bad for environment'" - MEN.

    Thursday 24 January 2008
  • More on businesses who are opposed to tolls - Crain's - "Peel says more businesses will follow Kellogg's anti-charge stance"   Rochdale Online - "Kellogg's campaign on congestion issue"   Environmental Transport Association - "Row over road charging continues".

    Tuesday 22 January 2008
  • Market Meet - The Tameside branch of MART will be in Ashton market this Sunday, 27th, from 11 - 2 (weather permitting!) - Tameside branch website.

  • Peel do not want tolls - The Manchester City Council boss is angry because the owners of the Trafford Centre have sent a letter to all councillors saying that road tolls would be bad for businesses - MEN - "Pay-to-drive stand off".

  • Cornflakes do not want tolls - MEN - "C-charge: Kellogg's say 'no'".

    Monday 21 January 2008
  • David Ottewell sees the (red) light - "The eternal mystery of traffic lights".

    Friday 18 January 2008
  • Old news - The MEN has a complaint from the Lib Dems which seems to be based on a story in yesterday's Times which itself seems to be based on figures released over a month ago - "Traffic increase blamed on government".

    Wednesday 16 January 2008
  • Road pricing Dole - Manchester share - Early in December the Government announced that it was to give some councils more money to spend on consultants etc looking at road pricing. The cash has now been shared out - Rochdale News - "Extra money for road-pricing bid"   MEN - "C-charge: £1.5m boost for bid".

  • More on Wigan row - Council trying to suppress recording of what went on - Wigan Evening Post - "Franzen's tape row rumbles on".

  • More on "bosses split" - Bolton News - "Bosses split on road charges".

    Tuesday 15 January 2008
  • Tories oppose road toll (sort of) - The Shadow Transport Secretary has been in Machester and says that councils should not be "blackmailed" into introducing road tolls. The Labour boss of Manchester complains about the opposition to the tolls - MEN - "Villiers hits out at c-charge". Unfortunately the national Tory position is not clear - they do not oppose road tolls and they only say that it is local councils who should decide, the national Tories do not support referendums on the issue.

  • More mumbo jumbo - Some business people meet the Labour MP for Leigh - MEN - "Jury's out on driving charges". The Chamber of Commerce appears to be still backing the scheme even though their own poll last July indicated that 57 percent of member firms did NOT want the TIF road toll bid to be submitted.

    Monday 14 January 2008
  • Don't Worry - Manchester's transport boss tells the voters that it will be manana before there is a decision on tolls - Rochdale Online - "No rash decision pledge on congestion charge". The politicians hope that their road toll plans won't be an election issue this May, and they will also be hoping that the news media that back them will bury any stories. MART will do our best to stop them from getting away with this.

    Sunday 13 January 2008
  • Elected Mayor - the Bolton News speculates on the possibility of having an elected Mayor, apparently in ignorance of Bolton being one of MART's referendum targets - "Would an elected mayor work in Bolton?".

    Saturday 12 January 2008
  • "Leading Tory rallies against congestion charging" - Bolton News. If only! Despite the headline the report does not show that the "leading" Tory opposes the road toll, or even that he is demanding a referendum on the issue.

  • Bit more on Wigan row - Rochdale Online - "Ejection keeps congestion charge plans alive".

    Friday 11 January 2008
  • Wigan row - Labour blocked vote on anti road toll motion - MEN - "Roads row councillor voted out".

    Thursday 10 January 2008
  • Bit more on Wigan - Middleton Guardian - "Campaigners call on another council to join rebellion".

  • More on Fame - Salford Advertiser - "Roger catches number 37 riding the toll tax ticke". If you read the comments about London, you may not realise that the statement that the London toll is spent on buses and trains etc is a myth - nearly all the money goes on collection and enforcement.

  • Bus toll - It is suggested that if road tolls are introduced on cars, then bus companies will bring in more fare increases - Middleton Guardian - "Toll tax will bring ticket price hike".

    Wednesday 9 January 2008
  • More on Wigan - BBC - "Council to vote on road pricing".

    Tuesday 8 January 2008
  • Another Lord? - MEN - "C-charge champ a transport 'baron'". If he was made a real baron, he would not have to rely on lobbying but could join Lord Smith and tell his fellow peers how the people of Manchester can hardly wait for road tolls.

  • More on Wigan - Lord Smith says that the Wigan Labour party are right behind his road tolls plan - Wigan Evening Post - "Row over road fees at council"   Rochdale Online - "Bid to scupper congestion charging".

    Monday 7 January 2008
  • Wigan call - The Leader of the Comminity Action Party in Wigan is urging the council to withdraw support for the road tolls scheme - MEN - "Council urged to reject c-charge". Wigan is currently firmly under the control of Labour led by Lord Smith of Tolls, so it is most unlikely to do this, hopefully people will have this in mind when they vote in May.

    Saturday 5 January 2008
  • Bolton referendum - Bolton News - 4th - "Elected mayor is way forward"   Bolton News - 3rd - "VOTE: Campaigners petition for elected mayor". The Bolton Lib Dem leader suggests that a referendum on the "C" charge would be better than one on having an elected Mayor. MART agrees 100 per cent, but as the Lib Dem leader should know, councillors who want road tolls will never agree to a "C" charge referendum and there is no direct way that the people can make the councillors have a referendum on the issue.

  • "C-charge: bits and pieces" - MEN - David Ottewell's blog.

  • Tameside blog - "Stalybridge Train Station upgrades".

    Friday 4 January 2008
  • Bury petition submitted - There has been uncertainty as to what Bury's position is on the "C" charge, and what the legal position is with the referenda, so some members of MART have now submitted the signatures that were collected for a petition - MEN - "C-charge: Petition to elect mayor"   Bolton News - "VOTE: Campaigners petition for elected mayor"   Bolton News - "9,000 in road charges protest".

  • Jammy buses - Rochdale News - "Jams charge will woo millions to buses". The report says that "Bus services are being slowed down by congestion by two per cent a year." If this is all the effect of congestion is, then how many people (apart from the bus companies and certain councillors ) would agree that road tolls was a price worth paying in the forlorn hope that it would have any effect - in London the traffic is as slow as it was before the "C" charge was introduced.

  • Manchester Lib Dem defects - The chairman of Manchester Tories says - "For too long, the Liberal Democrats have failed to provide the alternative to Labour, not least on the issues that matter to people in Manchester, such as the Congestion Charge, which we oppose."   MEN - 2nd - "Lib Dem councillor defects to the Tories".

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