National Alliance Against Tolls - Manchester Congestion Charge - 2007 News

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Sunday 30 December 2007
  • Quango rule not OK - There is concern that "AGMA", which is not directly elected and is exempt from the rules for local authorities, will be given power over Greater Manchester councils including imposing road charges - Bolton News - Friday 28th - "Gtr Manchester powers extension plan".

    Friday 21 December 2007
  • Talking up congestion - MEN - "Help us beat gridlock".

    Thursday 20 December 2007
  • "Toll Tax" letter From Sean Corker of MART in - the Middleton Guardian.

  • Which way? The Rochdale Leader who signed a petition against the toll tax criticises Bury for voting against it - Middleton Guardian - "Council leader attacks U-turn over C-charge".

  • Which way? The Tory Leader of Trafford has had the road toll dropped from the Greater Manchester strategy plan - Middleton Guardian - "New blow to C-charge plans".

  • More on Bury vote - This is Lancashire - "Congestion charge at risk after Council 'No'".

    Wednesday 19 December 2007
  • Privacy - MART Press release - MART is to step up its campaign for an independent privacy commissioner to safeguard drivers personal details if a congestion charge is introduced and is demanding the appointment of an independent civil liberties champion to protect the public and prevent political interference. MART co-ordinator, Sean Corker criticised Manchester council leaders for not releasing any details of how drivers' personal data will be safeguarded if their bid for congestion charge funding is approved by the government. He said:-
    "The recent twin debacles over the loss of millions of child benefit details and learner driver's records are a wake up call for all citizens who fear government incompetence and loss of privacy, yet political leaders in Manchester have said nothing about security around the proposed congestion tax database. For instance, who will have access to it, what safeguards will be put in place and who will be responsible to prevent identity fraud and theft? The definition of personal privacy begins and ends with a data protection act that is far too easily bypassed by authorities and ignored by criminals. Manchester Council has an agenda to massively increase the size of the congestion charge to cover the whole of Greater Manchester making it one of the biggest databases in the country. This will mean even more cameras, more surveillance, more data collection and an ever growing log of our movements. The last few weeks have proved beyond doubt that the only way to safeguard our privacy is not to collect the data in the first place.".

    Tuesday 18 December 2007
  • Head to head - The Leader of Manchester City Council debates the road toll plans with the managing director of Peel Holdings. No punches are pulled!   Crains - "Business and politics plot a collision course on c-charge".

    Monday 17 December 2007
  • Tolls promotion - You can have lots of YELLOW school buses but only if you agree to road tolls - BBC - "School buses 'cutting congestion'". The cost of running the tolls scheme would probably be enough to pay for several YELLOW taxis for every child!!

    Friday 14 December 2007
  • Politics - Rochdale Lib Dems criticise the Bury Lib Dems for not supporting tolls - MEN - "Lib Dems in road toll war". If anyone is the odd one out it is the Rochdale Lib Dems. They are out with the other Rochdale parties (Labour and Tory) who oppose tolls. They are also the odd ones out compared with other Lib Dems. Lib Dem Stockport, following public consultation, was one of the two councils who voted against the toll plans at the end of July. And when the NAAT was involved in the Edinburgh Toll Poll, the Edinburgh Lib Dems campaigned against the toll plans. Perhaps the Rochdale Lib Dems don't want to antagonise road toll supporters - Scotsman - "Road toll supporters target Lib-Dems HQ".

    Thursday 13 December 2007
  • Toll buried? - What happened at last night's Bury Council meeting - MEN - "Bury blow for c-charge"   Salford Advertiser - "Bury blow for congestion charge plans"   Bury Times - "Bury says 'no' to congestion charge".
    What does this mean? - It adds to the problems that the Government already has with a Congestion Charge submission that two of the councils (Stockport and Trafford) have already voted against. There is no power, current or proposed, that would force a local authority to take part in a road tolls scheme. The scheme should be dead already. But to really kill this Dracula of a scheme may mean having to catch it in daylight armed with garlic etc!!!
    This is the original Tory motion that was moved at last night's meeting - ""Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) Bid - This Council is against the TIF Bid if Congestion Charges are included in the final offer from Government.". Labour moved an alternative almost identical motion -"This Council is not against the principle of the T.I.F. bid but would oppose the imposition of Congestion Charging by the Government.". The Lib Dems also moved an amendment, and the substantive motion that was then carried said -
    "This Council believes that major investment in public transport infrastructure is urgently needed in Greater Manchester for significant environmental and economic reasons, but rejects the attempts of the Labour Government to force congestion charging on Greater Manchester to receive the public transport investment we need.
    This Council is against the TIF Bid if Congestion Charges are included in the final offer from Government. This Council requires that public support for the initiative is confirmed through a Greater Manchester wide consultative referendum on congestion charging."
    PS - David Ottewell in his MEN blog says that - "AGMA and the GMPTA/E will be rolling out information about precisely what the £3bn package would bring. They will be hoping, with some reason, that both the general public and the three "anti" councils (Bury, Trafford, Stockport) might begin to swing behind the bid when they realise precisely what is on offer." - "The road to charging". "With some reason"? What exactly will that be? A massive spin campaign designed to fool the electorate? If the politicians who want to toll the roads are convinced that they can persuade the people then why don't they risk a referendum?

    Wednesday 12 December 2007
  • Burying the Toll? - More on tonight's Council meeting - BBC -"Council votes on C-charge scheme".

  • Privacy concerns - The Information Commissioner speaks to the MEN - "C-charge: Risk to privacy?". We mus it adds to the problems that the Government already has with a Congestion Charge submission that two of the councils (Stockport and Trafford) have already voted against. There is no power, current or proposed, that would force a local authority to take part in a road tolls scheme. The scheme should be dead already. But to really kill this Dracula of a scheme may mean having to catch it in daylight armed with garlic etc!!! t admit that this is not a story that we would have expected from the paper.

  • Tameside group - from the Reporter of 6th December - "MART drives campaign onto the Net".

    Tuesday 11 December 20
  • Fingers crossed - Bury may join Stockport and Trafford in the no thank you camp - MEN -"C-charge plans under threat".

    Monday 3 December 2007
  • Poll - Tameside Reporter.

  • "Free" goodies courtesy of the MEN - Perhaps they are short of something to fill the paper! "C-charge: The dividend". As usual the best part is the online comments.
    PS David Ottewell also covered this in his MEN Blog - "Transforming transport". He says that he is agnostic on "congestion charging". Judging by the stories that don't get into the MEN the guy with the blue pencil is not.

    Friday 30 November 2007
  • By-election result - In Rochdale the Labour candidate held on to the Middleton north ward. He is opposed to the road toll plans - Middleton Guardian - "Labour hold on in by-election". (Rochdale is ruled by the Lib Dems who voted for road tolls.)

  • More on By-election result - Labour accuse Lib Dems of misleading voters including by saying that the Labour leader of Middleton was in favour of congestion charging - Rochdale Online - "Labour Councillor reports 'Fib Dems Liars' to police".

    Thursday 29 November 2007
  • MART meetings - MART meets Noon this Saturday, 1st, at the John Gilbert. The Tameside branch of MART will be meeting on Sunday, 2nd, at 1 pm at The Bay Horse, 142 Haughton Green Road, Denton.

    Wednesday 28 November 2007
  • "M-way gridlock warning" - "MOTORWAYS around Manchester face gridlock unless action is taken" according to a report from the RAC Foundation - MEN. What the MEN does not reveal and probably does not know as it will not have read the report, is that the people behind the report suggest that there should be tolls on most roads with an "annual financial yield" of £25 to 30 billion. It says that "This would be payment from users additional to fuel duty and road tax at the present rate.". The assumption must be that drivers either can't read or love highway robbery.

    Monday 26 November 2007
  • "Selling the idea?" - David Ottewell on a Tolls sales conference - MEN Blog. The blog ends - "What supporters of the TIF bid need to do isn't try to convince people that road pricing is a marvellous idea per se; they need to convince people that the £3bn genuinely will transform our public transport." That is exactly what the authorities aided by the MEN have been trying to do, while they also try to hide the fact that most of this £3 billion will be milked from drivers, and by the time that debt interest and cost of collection is added, the amount of tolls could be nearer to £10 billion.

  • "Drivers in bus lane blitz" - War on drivers including comment from Sean Corker of MART - MEN.

    Friday 23 November 2007
  • What the Lords said - Tuesday's debate on the "Local Transport" Bill included contributions from two Manchester Lords - Lord Smith the Labour boss of Wigan and Lord Bradley a former Manchester Labour MP. David Ottewell from the MEN has put what they said in his blog - "I still bear the scars of the C-charge battle". The best laugh is probably Lord Smith of Tolls telling his fellow lords that two thirds of Manchester people support his road toll plans.

    Thursday 22 November 2007
  • Referendum - It appears that MART is going to win the battle (in Bury) to have a referendum - Local Transport Today - "Manchester TIF bid in jeopardy as opponents secure referendum".

    Wednesday 21 November 2007
  • "Road war" - Wigan traders are concerned about new road restrictions, and wonder if this is a first step towards the "C" charge - Wigan Observer - "Firms hit out in road war".

    Tuesday 20 November 2007
  • "occupiers seek to relocate to areas not anticipated to be levied with the proposed congestion charge" - How did this remark get past the MEN editor?   "Didsbury on the move".

  • NEW website   Tameside group of MART.

    Sunday 18 November 2007
  • More "news" - The publicly funded Development Agency doing its bit again - "Ignoring congestion 'is not an option'".

    Thursday 15 November 2007
  • Not quite correct - Another report about the Local Transport Bill with the usual mistake of not knowing that the local authorities already have the power to bring in road tolls or "congestion charges" - Durham did it in 2002 - Middleton Guardian - "Transport Bill gives Toll Tax powers".

  • What Roger said - Manchester's transport boss giving an interview for the "green" section of a business magazine - "Manchester urges firms to prepare for congestion charge".

    Wednesday 14 November 2007
  • Tameside Radio - The station have given permission for us to use this recording of yesterday's report about MART and the charge.

    Tuesday 13 November 2007
  • Dispatch from the front - Last night on Channel Four, the Dispatches programme was "Bottleneck Britain" which dealt with road pricing. Unfortunately the programme mainly seemed to be acting as an agent for those who want to inflict a toll tax on drivers. But they did mention MART and interviewed Sean Corker.
    The programme featured a road pricing test based on 4 drivers in the Manchester area. At the end of the programme they were given their "bills", they averaged just over one pence a mile. The drivers could not believe how low they were. Neither do we - the people who are behind the Manchester toll plans have already said that the initial charge for phase one of their plan will be up to £5 a day at present day prices. This means that many drivers will pay around an extra £1,200 a year, even before further phases are introduced and before price increases.

    Monday 12 November 2007
  • Tameside progress - The Tameside branch of MART had a meeting yesterday. Rob Hardman, the leader of the branch is due to discuss the campaign on Tameside Radio at lunchtime tomorrow (13th).

  • Queen in check - The UKIP candidate to stand against Ruth Kelly is the chairman of Bolton chess club - Bolton News - "Chess man’s political move".

  • Wigan business bosses support tolls - Not suprisingly this is the bosses in the Chamber of Commerce, the businesses in the Forum for Private Business and the Federation of Small Businesses take a different view - Wigan Observer - "Gridlock 'is ruining business'".

    Saturday 10 November 2007
  • "Parking tax move to raise transport cash" - This is according to - Rochdale on line, though we can't trace where the Minister said this.

  • Tameside referendum - The district will be one of the next targets for MART - Tameside Reporter and Chronicle.

    Friday 9 November 2007
  • Referendum - MART has been gathering signatures in Bury on a petition that would legally require the Council to hold a referendum on the question of having an elected Mayor. We are over 80% of the way up to the required number of signatures. But it seems that Bury Council will now agree to have a referendum on the question that we really want put - Bury Times - "Referendum to go ahead on C-charge". (For more background see the stories on 14th September and 24th August.)

    Thursday 8 November 2007
  • The other side - The Manchester area has one of the strongest economies in Britain, but in terms of educational attainment and other social measures it is at the bottom - BBC - "Manchester people 'left behind'"   MEN - "The two sides of Manchester". Is the rush into road tolls a way for local politicians to distract from what appears to be a failure in the areas that they are already responsible for?

  • "Charging ahead" - This is the heading on this summary - in David Ottewell's blog in MEN. But if the MEN and the rest of the Manchester establishment have their way then the whole area will be charging ahead blindly into road tolls.

  • Turn and turn again - We reported on the 19th September that the Rochdale Lib Dem MP who had been advocating road tolls appeared to have changed his mind. It seems that he is again backing them, and wants everyone in Britain to join in the fun!!   Rochdale Online.

    Tuesday 6 November 2007
  • Boss backing Toll - There is more evidence today that Manchester Chamber of Commerce is part of the sales team for the Manchester Toll. The MEN quotes the Chamber boss as saying - "Greater Manchester is taking the problem of congestion seriously and is the first area in the country to submit a comprehensive £1.4bn bid for Transport Innovation Fund money. This would pay for extensive public transport improvements including Metrolink extensions, longer trains, more buses, cycling facilities and a congestion charging scheme." - "Why give M60 the cold shoulder?". We wonder why on the 25th, the Chamber announced that they were to do a study of the toll as they seem to have already made up their minds (not that the businesses who are part of the Chamber necessarily agree). The story also says that the bid is for £1.4 billion - what happened to the £3 billion?

    Monday 5 November 2007
  • Face to Face with Roger - A Salford Advertiser reporter tells the city's transport bus what she thinks of public transport - "The people versus".

    Friday 2 November 2007
  • Come again? - The MEN have a strange story today. It begins - "GREATER Manchester's 10 councils are set to introduce a majority voting system for key decisions - which could include the congestion charge." - "C-charge: majority voting".
    The 10 councils that make up AGMA when they submitted their Congestion Charge plan at the end of July did so on a majority voting basis (Stockport and Trafford voted against). So how is it now news that they are going to do this?.
    At the end of July there was indeed some confusion over this. It seemed to arise from the AGMA meeting at the end of June, when there was an incomprehensible item about "Transport Governance in Greater Manchester". This included a discussion of what the voting requirement should be at various stages of any TIF congestion charging bid. The minutes of that meeting were not clear, and there was apparently a disagreement, whether clear or not, as to whether they were even accurate. At the July meeting some of the councils voted against approving the minutes. Whatever the rights and the wrongs of it, the AGMA majority at the end of July in effect decided that for this TIF congestion charging submission, AGMA should decide on a majority basis - which is their normal basis for other decisions.
    But this brings us to the key issue, which is whether on the issue of congestion charging (or anything else) can AGMA compel councils to do something that they don't want to? The answer in our view is clear - AGMA can't compel any of the 10 districts to do anything. AGMA is only a "voluntary association".
    So what is today's story all about? Our guess is that there are two possibilities. One is that the establishment plan is to bluff the Stockport and Trafford councillors into thinking that they have no choice. The other possibility, which we hope is not true, is that Stockport or Trafford may be looking for an excuse and intend to say that they were forced into accepting road tolls.

  • Air - This is old news but here is the letter that the pro road toll campaigners sent out just before the City bosses voted for road tolls at the end of July - FOE Manchester. The pro tolls people give cleaner air as the reason for tolls. The actual measurements show that air pollution in London increased after the "congestion" charge was introduced.

  • Tameside Group - A MART group for the Tameside area was set up a month ago by Rob Hardman - news story. The group are to have their next meeting on Sunday 11th November in Ashton. If you are from the Tameside area and wish to take part then please contact us .

    Thursday 1 November 2007
  • More on Bolton poser - Con charge supporters say that "These (MART) claims are irresponsible scaremongering. There are no plans for a congestion charge within Bolton." and "This is a complete work of fiction." But see what those commenting at the end of the story say - This is Lancashire - "£312m road charge bill for Bolton claim".

    Tuesday 30 October 2007
  • Con - There has been another one of those surveys - you know the ones that say that drivers will enthusiastically back road tolls if they are told that the money will all go to public transport or to reducing fuel tax - MEN - "'C-charge must bring benefits'".

    Monday 29 October 2007
  • Bolton poser - MART and the ABD sent this press release out on Friday - ABD - "Bolton Con — Charge Bell Tolls For Ruth Kelly".

  • Going round in rings - It seems that the Council bosses have dropped "plans" for the ring that never was - Rochdale online - "Congestion plan gathering pace"   MEN Friday - "Road charge `third zone' facing axe".

    Thursday 25 October 2007
  • Bosses to "study" the Con - Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce are looking for volunteer businesses as part of a study on the impact of the Manchester Toll - Rochdale Online - "Congestion charging - Chamber study". This is the same Chamber that refused MART an opportunity to talk to its members while they were being sold the Manchester Toll plans - though despite the one sided story that they were given, most of its members later said that they did not support the present Congestion Charge "bid".

    Wednesday 24 October 2007
  • London bias - or so it is claimed - MEN - "MPs angry over London 'bias'".

    Monday 22 October 2007
  • Buses, yes or no - On Saturday the Bolton News reported on - "Multi-million bus network boost".

  • The Noes would have it, but the noes won't be asked - David Ottewell's view on a "C" referendum as opposed by Lord Smith of Tolls - MEN Blog - "Referendum... or telly?".

    Thursday 17 October 2007
  • Road pricing back on again - It was widely reported earlier in the week that the Government were about to abandon road pricing. What NAAT (see our main news page for Monday 15th) said was that Gordon Brown would - "probably just slow down plans for national road pricing while proceeding with road pricing pilots in Manchester, Cambridge and elsewhere" It seems that David Ottewell agrees - MEN Blog - "TIF: the government speaks".

  • While Road pricing was "off" - Call for Manchester councils to abandon toll plans - Middleton Guardian - "No toll tax u-turn if government kills national scheme".

    Tuesday 16 October 2007
  • Burying one's head in the sand - Manchester transport bosses say that their toll plans are not affected by possibility that there will be no national raod pricing - MEN - "Road toll bid 'to go ahead'".

    Monday 15 October 2007
  • No national road pricing - David Ottewell reaction to "news" that Government might abandon road pricing - MEN Blog - "C-charge: reading the runes". From the transport boss - MEN Blog - "C-charge: Roger Jones' response".

  • More on No congestion - From Rochdale Online - "Rush hour traffic congestion decreases". This is the full press release -
    "Manchester - The Government Road Pricing Guinea Pig Bites Back"

    A £2 billion congestion tax bombshell is about to hit North Western towns like Bolton and Stockport - to help pay for the "carrot" Manchester received from central Government in exchange for being the "Guinea Pig" for unpopular road pricing schemes planned for the whole country.

    Research from MART (Manchester Against Road Tolls), shows that the burden of paying for a £1.8 billion transport loan will fall hard on motorists driving into towns like Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Altrincham. Cllr David White, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman for Stockport said: "We never felt that charging just to drive into Manchester city centre added up, despite receiving weasel word assurances from City Council leaders. It was obvious there was a need to recoup a shortfall in revenue and that meant taxing towns like Stockport. Their overall plan is to get an elected mayor for Greater Manchester, then without further reference to our communities, they will drive this tax through. So much of this is old politics, a grand plan without telling people what your true intentions are."

    MART Co-ordinator Sean Corker said: "Manchester City Council has been in the vanguard of increasing the tax burden on local people, yet they have misled people about traffic levels and congestion and are misleading everyone about the pressing need to extend the charging zones. During the consultation process, no mention was made of the outer town charging in any of the scripts or questions put to the public or businesses. Just like London, they will say what ever it takes to get the scheme through then do what ever they like when it is in place."

    Manchester Council leaders have refused to reveal their business plan to the public and fellow councillors alike. The reason it seems is that they have always needed the revenue from the other 9 councils to balance the books and finance their grand designs. Each council needs to look very carefully at what they are getting in return for over £2 billion of congestion charge revenue being sucked out of the local economies of the region. Transport investment in Manchester is badly needed, but the money must not have "strings" attached which tie the population of a whole conurbation to a ruinous and doomed road pricing experiment.

    Details -
    Transport chiefs will need to raise £130 million (see note 1) plus collection costs each year to cover the loan and plan to introduce charging in Greater Manchester's outer towns as rapidly as possible to meet the burden.

    MART's analysis of the proposals shows that charging the 52,000 vehicles (note 2) that daily use the outer town centres will rake in £65.8 million a year (note 3), compared with £113 million (note 4) for the two currently proposed Manchester rings (before any collection costs or behavioural change has been factored in to the calculations). The Executive minutes of Manchester City Council, 25 July 2007 (pdf file) at "Proposed Greater Manchester TIF Bid" says that "The bid now being proposed is in two parts. The first part focuses on a well defined phase 1 investment and charging package. The final decisions on this phase would be followed by further detailed work at least 12 months later. The second part would identify further investment and links to potential expansions of the charging regime beyond phase 1. This would require more work on investment and charging business cases and would potentially be on track some 12 months behind the first phase." Over the course of the 30 year loan, using current figures, the conurbation' s outer towns will contribute up to £2 billion (note 5) at today's prices. Manchester City Council leaders, who have led the campaign for the road tax, are lobbying to ensure that Stockport and Trafford (who voted against the proposals) are finally included or risk losing £712 million (note 6) of transport investment.

    The projected revenue from the two Manchester cordons will be £3.4 bn in return for just £730 million of actual government transport investment (note 7). We have not sought to minimise revenues from the congestion charge scheme to make a political point. We have ignored the downward trend in cars during rush hour from the councils own traffic unit, we have not included the 10% drop in vehicle numbers the council predicts their scheme will cause and we have not deducted collection costs estimated to be £35 - £40 million per year. There are simply not enough chargeable vehicles crossing the 2 cordons at current levels to create the revenue required to pay off the £1.8 billion loan as the scheme stands without the inclusion of the regional town centres.

    Notes -
    (1) £1.8 billion loan at 6% over 30 years = £129.5 million per year,
    (2) Greater Manchester Traffic Unit (GMTU) report; Cars entering Key centres during Peak AM priced at £5 per day (£3 in £2 out) Ashton 6699 Altrincham 3982 Bolton 8322 Bury 3949 Oldham 7648 Rochdale 4190 Stockport 15000 Wigan 2859 Total 52649.
    (3)Total 52649 x 5 days x £5 x 50 weeks = £65.8 million.
    (4) GMTU reports 34731 chargeable vehicles entered Manchester Key centre Charges based on £8 charging figure rather then £5 Thus £1.50 to cross M60 boundary a.m. and p.m, £3 to enter inner cordon and £2 to leave 34731 x £5 x £5 days x 50 weeks = £43.4 million GMTU reports - approx 99000 vehicles cross M60 each day in Morning Peak. 99000 x £3 x 5 days x 50 weeks = £74.25 million + £43.4 million = £117.25 million total revenue before costs for both current cordons.
    (5) £65.8 million x 30 years = £1.97 billion.
    (6) Trafford + Stockport's vehicles counts at £5 per day over 30 years = £711.8 million.
    (7) £117 million revenue from M60 + inner Manchester cordon over 30 years = £3.5 billion.
    Thursday 11 October 2007
  • More trams - charge or not? - The MEN reports on the possible use of supplementary business rates to finance trams - "New tax could fund Metrolink".

  • Bolton Interchange - charge or not? - The Bolton News reports that "Interchange proposals form part of a £3 billion bid for Government cash for transport improvements, part of which would be paid back by revenue from a congestion charge in Manchester." But then says - "But it is not dependent on the bid being successful. Other public funding and private investment could be used." - "New transport interchange for Bolton?".

    Friday 5 October 2007
  • More on Traffic is falling - Chris Rougheen from MART makes sure that Salford people know that traffic is falling - Salford Advertiser - "Traffic in Eccles dropped by a fifth; so why the Toll Tax?". If despite the fall in traffic there is still more congestion, then the answer is obvious - the congestion is caused by the authorities who want to introduce the toll tax.

    Saturday 29 September 2007
  • Bolton says "No thanks" - An opinion poll carried out for the FSB indicates that most Bolton people do not support "C" tolls and will vote against Ruth Kelly who is expected to endorse the charge plans - Bolton News - "Kelly risks losing seat over C-Charge"   MEN - "C-charge threatens Kelly".

    Thursday 27 September 2007
  • Congestion is falling -it's official - Findings from the recent KPMG report that was produced for the authorities - MEN - "Survey claims less congestion".

    Wednesday 26 September 2007
  • Labour argue with different Lib Dem view - Labour attack Paul Rowen MP - Rochdale Online - "Tram tax proposal condemned". Labour say ".. Paul Rowen spoke in favour of congestion charging at his Lib Dem Conference and for him to come back to his constituency and propose an alternative local tax smacks of political opportunism." So it seems that Labour realise that the people oppose the planned charge!

    Saturday 22 September 2007
  • More on a different Lib Dem view - We reported on Wednesday that Paul Rowen the Lib Dem MP for Rochdale was sticking up for drivers, here is another report - Rochdale Observer - "Town’s transport links under political spotlight".

    Friday 21 September 2007
  • New "C" charge boss - Manchester Confidential in an exclusive reveal that - "Jose Mourinho will head up the region’s bid to embrace congestion charging with the Transport Innovation Fund." Is this because of his experience of the London "C" charge? Or is this just to distract attention from his real reason for coming here - to save Bury from relegation!!   "Sleuth exclusive – Mourinho for Manchester".

  • Lord of the Rings - Lord Smith of the Toll Rings, the boss of Wigan denies that there is a rift in AGMA. He also says "The intention is to have a system in the centre of Manchester where the greatest congestion is and then see where we will go.". Does this mean that they have abandoned the M25 toll ring, or has Lord Smith not been shown a copy of the plans?   Wigan Observer - "Politicians clash over transport fees".

  • "Can the can" - As part of "Can the Can week" (don't ask!), the local politicians on the North West Regional Assembly (due itself to be canned next year) have published a survey suggesting that most people are not regular users of public transport and don't want to be - MEN - "Third of drivers will stick to cars".

    Wednesday 19 September 2007
  • Get thin and go by train - The Manchester Transport boss complains to the Government about overcrowded trains - MEN - "MPs urged to tackle rail overcrowding". Cenwulf has added the comment - "So the public transport system can't cope at the moment. What happens if the road toll goes ahead and forces most drivers out of their cars?"

  • A different Lib Dem view - Paul Rowen the Lib Dem MP for Rochdale says - "I am afraid that some alternatives to Congestion Charging have not been investigated fully." - Rochdale online - "Stop clobbering the motorist!". We welcome what Paul says, but wonder why Lib Dem controlled Rochdale Council is backing the "C" toll.

  • Bosses, tolls and trams - Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce went through a "consultation" execise on the "C" charge where they refused to let our spokespeople speak at the meetings, and just fed the local businesses the official line. Despite this the local businesses voted 57% to 43% against the submission of a TIF Congestion Charge bid (see 24th July). It appears that the Chamber is turning a blind eye to this and is still backing the toll plans of the council bureaucrats - MEN - "C-charge boost for trams".

    Monday 17 September 2007
  • State of the City - Congestion Charge Spin Collides with Reality - from last Thursday's Middleton Guardian - "'No growth in traffic' says city council report".
    This is the full statement that Sean Corker issued on behalf of MART -
    Manchester City Council’s congestion charge proposal has been exposed as scaremongering and spin by its own State of the City Report 2006 - 2007 - “There has not been any detectable increase in traffic congestion on local roads over the last year.” (4.4.3. on page 20).
    This report by KPMG undermines council leaders’ claim that Manchester is heading for gridlock. It indicates that most (64%) of trips to the regional centre were made other than by car. Also, the number of cars entering Manchester city centre during the morning peak period has fallen by 11% since 1999.
    Despite these trends, congestion persists – as in London, made worse by squandering road space on bus lanes, rephasing traffic signals and politically correct traffic calming.
    A Freedom of Information disclosure reveals a policy of making car parking more difficult for residents and shoppers; the bulk of councils on AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) are now seeking to borrow billions from the Government to increase this pain.
    Both London and Manchester are led by people who fail to understand the vital role cars play in the lives of ordinary people. Any ‘listening’by the authorities is confined to how they can massage the figures for ‘public acceptability’.
    The London "C" charge is increasingly shown to have had no effect in reducing traffic delays and to have produced no net revenue. Is it too late for our authorities to avoid a similar costly mistake?
  • London v North - From David Ottewell's blog in MEN - "Cross about Crossrail?". If it is estimated that London Crossrail will take 60 years to get back in economic benefits the cost of building it, does this not mean that after you allow for interest and inflation, it is not recovering the cost?

    Sunday 16 September 2007
  • Bus promises - The North West Regional Development Agency is still helping to sell the "C" charge - no surprise at it seems to be funded by the Government - "£70m promised for Manchester buses if transport bid is successful".

    Saturday 15 September 2007
  • More on Sir Richard's Swedish trip - From David Ottewell's blog in MEN - "Sweden continued...".

    Friday 14 September 2007
  • Bury opposition - In Bury, Labour and the Lib Dems have called for a referendum on the "C" charge - This is Lancashire - "Labour call for referendum over C-charge plans".

  • Congestion claims 1 - Campaigners who want a "C" toll say that according to "Government statistics" congestion is growing faster here then anywhere else in Britain - Oldham Advertiser- "Gridlocked".

  • Congestion claims 2 - A report produced for the local authorities says that there has "not been any detectable increase in traffic congestion on local roads over the past year". - Middleton Guardian - "'No growth in traffic' says city council report".

  • Bus promises - A bus company say that they will buy more new buses if there is a "C" charge - MEN - "£70m pledge to boost buses". Will these new buses have a similar effect to the "bendy" buses that London bought after their "C" toll was introduced? The buses that have done more than anything else in London to create congestion and nuisance.

    Wednesday 12 September 2007
  • Manchester big bosses and Stockholm - From David Ottwells' blog in the MEN - "Executive 1: congestion".

    Monday 10 September 2007
  • A growing con - Anti road campaigners say that traffic in Britain is grinding to a halt, and surprise, surprise the worst place of all is where they want to introduce the "C" charge - MEN - "Congestion growing at twice national rate".

    Saturday 8 September 2007
  • Go by train for a cheap bus ride - There are no recent news stories about the "C" charge, but this story yesterday mentioned it in passing - MEN - "Cut-price bus plan gathers pace". It is difficult to see how this scheme would have much effect on congestion - how many people arriving by train in Manchester would then get into a car?

  • We have ways of making you congested - Dan has pointed out to us what Bolton and Wigan are up to (though the same will be happening elsewhere) - "Since the announcement of the congestion charge there has been a spate of roadworks appearing and narrowing of junctions -(one at the moment is at the bottom of Market street in Hindley where they are narrowing a junction that they widened less than 2 years ago), turning 2 lane roads into single lanes, and fiddling with traffic light timing to see how bad they can get it!"

    Monday 3 September 2007
  • Old story - A story that was in various national papers as well as the MEN, about how a supplementary local business rate could pay for things like improved public transport - not that businesses would be keen!   "Business rates to fund trams?".

  • No story - Last Tuesday, the Transport Minister - Rosie Winterton - visited Wigan and this press release was issued. How odd that she did not mention the "C" charge bid.

  • Old blog - An MEN Blog suggests that Liverpool also wants a congestion charge - "Liverpool enters the TIF race". The only people who want a "C" charge in Liverpool or Manchester are the politicians and those who want to force drivers off the road. There is next to no chance of Liverpool doing anything before any national scheme starts. The main threat to Liverpool is tolling of a new bridge and the existing free bridge over the river Mersey at Runcorn. A threat that will damage the whole of the North West.

    Friday 24 August 2007
  • The Alternative referendum - Latest on plan for a referendum in Bury on an elected mayor - Bury Times - "US-style mayor bid to halt congestion charge".

    Thursday 23 August 2007
  • Peak charges - The Labour MP for High Peak is not only enthusiastically backing proposals for a "C" charge in Manchester he wants them introduced to the Peak district - for visitors - Buxton Advertiser - "How about a tourist "congestion charge" in the Peak?".

  • Peak charges - some reactions - In Buxton Advertiser - "Is Big Brother coming to Peak?"   "Charge would drive out vital business".

    Tuesday 21 August 2007
  • "Voodoo economics" and "A fantasy world". According to the M.E.N. this is what Labour MP, Graham Stringer thinks of what will have gone into the "C" charge bid - "Toll tax bill is £10M and rising".

    Monday 20 August 2007
  • Not Congestion charging - the Highways Agency are looking at other ways of tackling congestion - "Congestion working group to tackle traffic trouble". Let's hope that the bosses in the DfT don't hear about this!!!

  • A message from our sponsors - At the end of last week, the GMPTE sent out a message to people who had contacted then during the supposed "consultation" exercise. Here is what they said - "Thank you for your recent views on the proposed future transport strategy, which has been developed by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA). On 31 July 2007, AGMA and GMPTA submitted a bid to the Government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) for a £3bn package of transport funding and the introduction of a road congestion charging system, based on the strategy proposal.
    If the Government agrees to our bid, the extra investment would lead to a public transport revolution in Greater Manchester, including the delivery of a radically expanded Metrolink network, longer trains on many of the conurbation's rail lines and more frequent, high quality bus services. Additional transport schemes, which would be delivered, include the rapid expansion of Park and Ride facilities and Yellow School Bus services, alongside measures to ensure effective integration across all transport services. This investment has been demonstrated to be vital in meeting future demand from commuters attracted to the booming Greater Manchester economy. This investment package would be supported by a revised system of control of local transport services to ensure that local bus and rail services maintain these higher quality and frequency levels.
    The agreed bid would also involve the introduction of a locally designed congestion charging system to target future congestion problems where they will have maximum impact on the economy and environment, with all charging revenues retained to fund public transport improvements in Greater Manchester. By encouraging more people to make journeys by public transport, cycling or walking, this “package approach” would also help tackle climate change by cutting carbon emissions and improve air quality by reducing pollution.
    During June and July we undertook a range of activities to help people understand the broad nature of our strategy, and to gather people’s views on the proposed approach. As part of this work, a major opinion polling exercise was undertaken by telephone across 5,000 Greater Manchester residents and 1,000 local business managers.
    From our polling we found that there is a high recognition of the problem that traffic congestion presents to our environment and economy, and both residents and business managers also agreed that more investment is needed in our public transport system.
    A majority of local residents also agreed with the package-based strategy that we had put forward as the solution to these problems, whilst the views amongst the business community were more divided. However, we received a clear consensus from those polled when asked about the principle of submitting a TIF bid for Greater Manchester subject to further consultation on the detailed strategy in time: 68% of residents and 60% of businesses supported this course of action.
    These findings, alongside the support from the independent panel of business leaders and economists convened to scrutinise the proposed strategy, informed the decision to submit the bid.
    The submitted bid will now be the subject of discussions between the Department for Transport (DfT) and Greater Manchester officials. It is anticipated that these discussions will result in the DfT making an official announcement on whether they accept our bid in December/January. During this period we will also be further reviewing in detail the large volume of valuable feedback from all sectors of the local community, including the views submitted by you, which we received over the last two months. This will be used to help shape the detailed nature of our full strategy.
    In addition, we will ensure there will be further opportunity for people to fully understand our proposals and comment on them in detail over the coming months. This will include formal consultation on the strategy at the appropriate stage.
    More information on these arrangements will be published shortly. However, in the meantime, you may wish to read more about our findings and the content of our strategy at our website.
    Thank you once again for your views."
    Saturday 18 August 2007
  • Not there too - Liverpool was yesterday reported as considering "C" charge, with Peel suggesting that it is not a good idea - "Peel's warning against city congestion charge". The reality is that Liverpool is already handicapped by tolls to cross the Mersey and would never do this unless Manchester does it first.

    Thursday 16 August 2007
  • One horse Race? - The M.E.N. tell its readers that Greater Manchester is the only horse in the "C" charge race. Not quite true as it is possible that Cambridgeshire will join the "race" round the end of the year - "C-charge rival out". The M.E.N. ignores MART and equates opposition to road tolls with the Trafford Centre, who they quote - "I do not see how the scheme can now proceed without fundamental changes to the way in which our roads are managed and run." What does this mean?

  • Another one horse race - The M.E.N. does its bit for global warming by increasing methane production - "Real park and ride". We wonder what the traffic would be like if everyone went to work etc by horse and cart?

    Wednesday 15 August 2007
  • The "C" Wars - Disagreement in Rochdale - Rochdale Observer - "Congestion charge bid leaves town divided".

  • More on "Wild goose chase" - The Bolton News with an updated report and an interesting comment from "Amosc99" - "£9.8m bill for congestion levy bid is slammed".

    Tuesday 14 August 2007
  • Mystery - It is now over two weeks since both Stockport and Trafford voted against the TIF congestion charge bid. In last weeks's Stockport Times there was a letter from Councillor Goddard reafirming the rejection of the Con Charge. So what is happening now?

  • "Wild goose chase" - The GM councils were given £3 million by the Government to prepare road toll plans but have spent nearly £10 million. Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley, says that it has been wasted on a "wild goose chase" - MEN - "Taxpayers face £6.6m c-charge bill". Report in Bolton News - "£9.8m bill for congestion levy bid is slammed". And on BBC - "Road charge bid cost almost £10m".

  • Still flying - A red herring but more on possible sale of airport in M.E.N. blog - "An idea with wings?".

    Monday 13 August 2007
  • More petitioning
    petitionpetitionpetitionTo coincide with the Motor Show,from Thursday to Sunday MART did some more petitioning at the Trafford Centre.

    Friday 10 August 2007
  • Says who - Manchester Confidential have been rabid in their support of the con charge (part of the M.E.N. group, are they?), but when a personality from outside the area reveals some of the truth they print it - "Quentin makes a pit stop".

    Wednesday 8 August 2007
  • Draft Local Transport Bill - As we reported on Friday the MPs on the Transport Committee issued a report on the draft Local Transport Bill. The national implications of it can be seen on main NAAT news page for Friday 3rd and Monday 6th. But what about Greater Manchester?

    AGMA, the GMPTA and the GMPTE submitted - written evidence to the committee on the Bill, but this makes almost no mention of the TIF congestion charge bid. Instead AGMA and the GMPTA submitted in March - separate written evidence on TIF.     The NAAT submission to the committee also mentions Manchester. But the appendix does not.

    More interesting is - the Greater Manchester oral evidence on the 23rd May (note that this is on 4 pages, and you will need to click on "Next" at the bottom of each page). Appearing for the Greater Manchester councils was Sir Richard Leese and the "interim" Chief Exec of the GMPTE. There are some interesting exchanges between Sir Richard and Manchester Labour MP, Graham Stringer, who happens to be on the Commons Transport Committee.

    There are also various references to Greater Manchester in the main report (PDF version) including - para 159 - "The Greater Manchester Authorities told us that a package of infrastructure improvements that included local road pricing is likely to increase the average speed of journeys by 14%, compared to an increase of just 3% from a package that excluded road pricing. We were also told that the city would save more than 30,000 jobs by 2021 compared to projected growth in the absence of a road pricing scheme."

    para 165 - " The Deputy Chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities also rejected any suggestion of "blackmail": [We] are not being blackmailed. We have identified that congestion is a double problem for Greater Manchester. First of all, unchecked it will slow down economic growth and, secondly, it would add to environmental problems through both carbon usage and deteriorating air quality. We have also identified that congestion charging, as part of an appropriate package, is something we shall need to do in order to address that issue. On top of that we see road pricing as being inevitable if we are serious about the polluter-pays principles.
    But the written evidence submitted by the Manchester Authorities did draw a clear link between the decision to consider road pricing and the availability of development funds through TIF. We were told that an "in principle" case was made for congestion charging to become a critical part of the Greater Manchester bid "having regard to Government policy, the need to actively promote the City Region's economic objectives and the very real need to secure the earliest access to significant further investment to develop Greater Manchester's transport infrastructure"."

    para 168 - "....It is curious that the PSA target for one of the cities (Manchester) bidding for Congestion TIF envisages no increase in congestion but cities whose PSA anticipates large increases in congestion are not being considered."

    para 198 - "The Greater Manchester Authorities project that the cost of their bid will total £9.8 million of which £3.2 million has been received by way of pump-priming funds...."

    para 215 - "It is clear to us that prudential borrowing will form an integral part of the investment that is required to implement and support a road pricing scheme. Greater Manchester Authorities told us: "unless the DfT envisages a substantial increase in the scale of funding made available under C-TIF initiative, currently scaled at £1.4 billion in total, the affordability of such packages is likely to depend upon the local retention and use of charging revenues to fund a substantial proportion of the supporting public transport programme. The challenge placed by any funding limitations would, of course, be intensified if C-TIF is required to satisfy demands across a number of metropolitan areas"."

    para 216 - "Manchester argues that the current rules on retaining revenues locally, which do not guarantee that they will be available beyond the first 10 years, and provisions of the current local government finance regime, which requires authorities to set aside annually resource funding equivalent to 4% of total borrowings to repay principal from the year after borrowing is taken out (the Minimum Revenue Provision rule), both substantially undermine the ability of TIF authorities to use charging revenues to contribute towards the costs of supporting packages...."

    para 225 - "The Government's policy is to use TIF-funded projects at the local level to explore the impact of road pricing. These projects are supposedly trials and experiments but their costs are extremely high. In the cases of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, £3 billion and £2 billion respectively, with debts lasting for up to 30 years. The failure of these projects would place a huge burden on the public purse....".
    Tuesday 7 August 2007
  • "Dangerous" gases - From the MEN - "Cars with a 'nose'". Strange that these "dangerous emissions" are only from "car exhausts. It is also worrying that the first one that they mention is "carbon dioxide". This is also produced by humans and animals. Will we have to get rid of the pet cat?

    Monday 6 August 2007
  • "We will fight to stop toll tax" - From last Thursday's - NEM Advertiser.

  • Rat run or ant maze? - Rob spotted this in Friday's MEN - "Rat-run safety protest". What is not mentioned is the effect that the proposed con scheme will have. Like the scheme that was rejected by the people of Edinburgh, the phase one scheme for Greater Manchester is based on twin cordons (just inside the M60 and near to Manchester City Centre). They have also suggested that there might be a third cordon between the other two.
    The effect of cordons is that traffic, if it can, will take the long way round, travelling further and potentially zigzagging down minor roads. As one of the cordons is just inside the M60, there will be another negative effect. Someone who is travelling from a point just inside the M60 to another point inside the M60, will frequently travel along the M60, but as the M60 is one of the cordons, if they do that then they will be charged, so instead they will travel on inferior roads to try and avoid touching the M60.

    Sunday 5 August 2007
  • MART meeting - Yesterday MART had a meeting with its biggest ever attendance. Various ideas were discussed. As the authorities will not allow a referendum on the issue of congestion charging, the plans is to have one or more referenda on the issue of elected mayors. Though the revolution may have to wait till after the summer holidays!!

  • Bolton View - The Bolton News has a report which confirms that Cliff Morris, the Leader of Bolton, opposes congestion charging in Bolton - "Drive for charges hits the fast lane". MART have added a comment to the story as we are confused as to why he has just signed up to the Transport Innovation Fund Congestion Charge Bid. The comment ends - "By collaborating with the Government at this stage, he has increased the chance that there will eventually be tolls on Bolton roads, whether he wishes it or not.".

    Friday 3 August 2007
  • Transport Committee Report - The MPs that have been taking evidence on the draft Local Transport Bill today issued a report (there are links to the report on our main news page). The MEN in their story - "C-charge 'blackmail' warning" say that "Ministers have said they will consider bids for TIF that do not include congestion charges. But, in private, council chiefs have been left in little doubt such bids would have practically no chance of success." Despite what the MEN says there has never been any doubt that TIF bids must be based on congestion charging (or a workplace parking levy). But in a surprise move, the MPs have now suggested that TIF money should be available without any strings.
    MEN Blog.

    2 August 2007
  • Another Tameside view - This time from the Reporter - Pictures and text. The Tameside leader says that though he voted for congestion charging he'd "personally like to see the charging actually go".

  • Another petition! - Someone has started another petition, though this time they are only worried about Wigan! - Wigan Today - "Petition against congestion charge". Wigan Town Hall is controlled by Labour but the two biggest opposition parties - the Democratic Alliance and the Tories oppose the charges.

  • Rochdale view - Middleton Guardian - "Why did council vote yes?". A Labour councillor accuses the Lib Dem Council of ignoring the views of most of the people in the townships.

  • Tameside view - Tameside Advertiser - "Leader takes car for ‘taxing’ trip". Not sure which is the best bit in this story. Is it the leader arriving at his own Town Hall in an official car? Or is it Tameside’s transport boss whose Council voted for congestion charging but says that congestion is not a problem?

  • Bury views - Bury News - "ELR may get a key role in congestion plan". Bury Tories last Friday voted for the congestion charging bid, yet they tell the paper that -"We have said we are against congestion charging, and that remains our position." Let us hope that Bury resolves this confusion by withdrawing its support for the congestion charge bid.

  • Peel Toll again - The M.E.N. has picked up yesterday's story about Warburton toll bridge - "C-charge opponents under fire".

    1 August 2007
  • Peel Toll - It is reported that Peel whom we are grateful to for opposing the Manchester road toll plan, are a toll road operator, albeit on a small scale - Northwich Guardian - "Partington Cllr hits out at Peel's 'toll tax'".

  • Macclesfield Unhappy - Macclesfield does not approve of congestion charging, but then they were not asked - Wilmslow Express - "‘Immoral’ congestion charge is one-way traffic say council".

  • Rochdale Reaction - Or at least the reaction of the three party leaders and the Bus Operators - Rochdale Observer - "Council backs city congestion charge".

  • What? - "What car" seem to have sources within the M.E.N / GMPTA and reveal a couple of things - taxis won't have to pay (a relief for those whose chauffeur may be having a day off) and tolls may be higher for vehicles with bigger engines - "Manchester C-charge details to come".

  • Congestion charging bid in - The MEN confirms that the Councils got their congestion charging bid in by the "deadline" - "Bid in for £3bn 'c-charge' cash". We think that the Council wizards should be congratulated in managing to write out what is presumably a several hundred page document since last Friday. At least we assume it was written since last Friday as the Council bosses (well eight of them) agreed to all this without seeing the document. Strange that in the "race" to get a congestion charging bid in by yesterday's "deadline", there were no other runners. Is this because there was not really any deadline?

  • Close to real - Chris has pointed out this item from MEN "Party Animal" blog - "Recharged". Has the M.E.N. censor also been on holiday? This is a bit too close to the real facts, even if the MEN only dare to have it in a Blog.

  • Opinions - Yesterday we at last got a copy of the script that was used when AGMA / GMPTA were doing an opinion survey on charging, (see more here). One of the people who saw the script said that his experience was different, in his case, he says that they first asked whether he was in a certain age range, and then asked whether he supported the congestion charge. He said that he wasn't sure and only then did they ask the questions from the script. What would have happened if he had said that he didn't support the charges?
    There have also been reports that people who attended the "facilitated events" were paid. This seems to be confirmed by a posting on the M.E.N. by Gismo of Radcliffe. He says - "... a related incident from one of my fellow employees living in the Oldham Area, whereby he received a phone call from the local council office requesting his views on the proposed conjestion charge ... he registered his opposition to the fees, he was thanked for his answer to the question. Some time later he received a further call from the local council, albeit a different operator. Being of an inquisitive mind, he chose on this occassion to support the charges. Again he was thanked for his views on the subject. Some short time after this call he received a further call from an official of the local council inviting him to attend a meeting about the Conjestion Charges to be held in Oldham at a date in the future - on asking if he would be reimbersed for his travel to the meeting he was advised that if he attended he would receive £50. At the present time he has yet to have the same response for being opposed to the charges...".

  • From Yesterday - Bolton News - "Business counting the cost of charge"   Bike Biz - "Manchester readies for bike boom"   Transport Briefing - "Manchester backs road tolls".

    30 July 2007
  • "Give us a referendum" - This story was published last Friday, but the message will become increasingly loud - North East Manchester Advertiser.

    29 July 2007
  • Poll - This is just a reminder of the BBC poll on whether people agree that "congestion charging is a price worth paying". Please vote and let other people know about the poll - (Congestion question is on the right of the page). As of this morning 20% agreed, and 80% disagreed.

    28 July 2007
  • Yesterday pics
    dukinfieldSome pictures of the lobby at Dukinfield.

    As widely reported the boss of Manchester arrived by bus, but can be seen in one picture leaving with his colleagues in a hired mini bus.
    dukinfield   dukinfield   dukinfield   dukinfield   dukinfield

  • Anyone want a blank cheque? - The M.E.N. reports that "Officials are working round the clock to meet a deadline of next Tuesday to offer to introduce congestion charging to Greater Manchester" - "C-charge: Bid goes in on Tuesday". What exactly are these officials now doing? All that happened yesterday is that the leaders of 8 out of 10 Greater Manchester councils voted to rubber stamp plans that it seems they have never seen.

  • London green - The M.E.N. tells its readers - "C-charge: London businesses 'envious'". Really? Exactly how many London businesses did the M.E.N. contact - was it one or none? How many are planning to relocate to Manchester to take advantage of the wonderful new tax? The report mentions the "Federation" of Private Business, the FPB is a national organisation based in Cheshire but repesenting many London businesses. They oppose congestion charging. This is - one of their recent press releases.

  • It's lonely by bus - The M.E.N. reports what the bosses said about how they travelled to yesterday's meeting- "C-charge: Most bosses arrive in cars".

    27 July 2007 - D DAY
  • The Day - later reports - Some Greater Manchester councillors are living in a fantasy world created by the toll spinners. They believe that they have not accepted the principle of congestion charging. What do the papers say? - Times - "Manchester votes for congestion charging plan"   Autocar - "Manchester will get congestion charge"   Vnunet - "Manchester approves road pricing scheme"   Vnunet - "Manchester makes move towards congestion charge"   C4 - "Congestion charge for Manchester".

  • The Day - The scheme to have road tolls in and around Greater Manchester was due to be agreed at a meeting today Friday at 10 o'clock at Dukinfield Town Hall, Tameside. We were there lobbying. Before the meeting a MART spokesman was asked by reporters why MART was lobbying the meeting. He said that much of what had gone on up to now was largely hidden from the people and even councillors. "We want them to know that they can't just rubberstamop whatever piece of paper is put in front of them, while there is nobody there to see what is happening". Shortly before the meeting was due to start the Police then passed on a message that only two members of the public were being allowed in, and those places had been allocated. One MART member said he was going in anyway, but was then told by officials that he could not go in as the meeting had started! This must be what they believe is "open" government and a "public" meeting.

    The result of the meeting was that Lib Dem led Stockport and Tory led Trafford stuck to their guns and voted "No" - Thank you to those councils. Tory led Bury said that they could not support the principle of congestion charging, but then voted for it anyway!!! As did the Lib Dem led Rochdale and the 6 Labour run Councils.

    What does all this mean? In our opinion the scheme is now dead. AGMA has no powers to do anything, and however the rules may have been bent, they can not impose this scheme on Stockport and Trafford. It seems that we now have a headless chicken still running round, and they are going to put in a congestion charging bid irregardless of the law. MART will fight on.
    BBC - "Councils vote for C-charge plan"   MEN - "C-charge gets go-ahead". The story in the Salford Advertiser - MEN - "C-charge gets the go-ahead" and in Oldham Advertiser - MEN - "C-charge gets the go-ahead" says "Sir Joseph Leese was booed by the small crowd as he stepped off a bus outside the front door". The reality is that he was not booed, he was asked would he be voting "no". His reply was that Manchester City Council had decided to vote "yes", at which one MART member pointed out that was at a meeting with a maximum of ten people there. Any way, where did he get on the bus? Had he travelled more than one stop? It seems that he could not have had a return bus ticket, as at the end of the meeting, Sir Joseph and his colleagues left in a hired minibus.

    The Northwich Guardian has been quick off the mark with this - "Trafford Council hits out at AGMA decision". The story is very worrying as it implies that though Trafford people and Trafford Council do not want congestion charging they will go along with what the other councils want.

    Also on BBC site today - A MART spokesman and the Transport boss   VOTE to agree or disagree with congestion charging.

  • Stockport says No - Another report - This is Lancashire - "Council ‘no’ to road charging". Best bit is not Stockport, but Bolton whose Leader "has vowed to debate further the question of congestion charging" He has just bought into this. Agreements with the Government are not like M&S, you can't take the skirt back and say that you really wanted a blouse.

  • Manchester Confidential reveals all - Not really, they just give some more pro toll spin - "Why Manchester Confidential supports the Transport Innovation Fund – aka the congestion charge". Why did they wait so long to tell us what he, she or it thinks?

  • What the M.E.N. Group says - What happened to "SIR ALEX, KEN BARLOW, THE HALLÉ and OASIS BACK TOLLS!!"?   "D-day for c-charge"   "Manchester may turn to road pricing"   "Late bid to slam brakes on c-charge"   "Where they stand on c-charge" (nationally).

    26 July 2007 -
  • "Drive against congestion charge is gathering pace" - From today's Tameside Reporter.

  • "Manchester moves towards congestion charging" - This is according to the - Financial Times. Let's hope that they are wrong.
  • That other survey - "On the 17th and 23rd we reported the results of the survey of over 1,600 households (spread over marginal wards in Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Trafford) that had been carried out by Geoffrey Berg. Today the Bolton News reports the results of the Bolton part of his survey - "Survey finds majority are against congestion charging". We wonder what the toll advocates, who are drivers, will make of Geoffrey not being a driver?

  • Feeling dizzy!! - The M.E.N. reports the Stockport decision, but quotes "But it won't make any difference because the other eight councils involved are in favour and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities has decided to go with a majority verdict." As far as we know this is completely wrong, and Stockport and Trafford will not accept a marriage arranged for them by Manchester city bosses. They also quote - "that two councils would not be allowed to hold up the rest of the conurbation - and that the new Transport Act in the autumn is expected to introduce powers to force areas to accept the scheme.". This is definitely not so, the draft Transport Bill does propose changes to the law, but there is no proposal to force this on local councils. Either the Manchester Council leader is VERY badly informed, or he is so well informed that he knows things that have not been revealed to MPs or the public - "C-charge: Stockport says no".

  • More spin - "England's North West" has issued this - "Manchester businesses 'back congestion charge'". It is not clear who this organisation are. Have they any connection with the authorities?

  • Stockport says NO! - The opinion of the people and businesses of Stockport has been surveyed by the Council, and they have given a clear answer - BBC - "Authority says no to road tolls". Council Leader, Dave Goddard says - “As things stand, congestion charging for Stockport is now dead in the water. Let me make it crystal clear: there was overwhelming opposition to congestion charging expressed by the people of Stockport, even if there were to be more investment in public transport. Therefore, the leadership of this Council is totally against it." - Stockport Council statement (full results on a link at the right).

  • "CAN Cannot Be Serious - Congestion Charge Pushers Taken to the Cleaners by MART" - Sean Corker of MART answers claims about air pollution - ABD Press release 574. One of the worst forms of pollution is PM10s, the main source for these is buses, lorries and taxis. The solution is tighter emission controls not road tolls. The press release includes a link to this recent story in the M.E.N. - "City's asthma alert".

  • Tomorrow is another day - From the M.E.N. - "C-charge: Councils ready to vote". The paper says that the vote will be on a majority basis. As far as we know AGMA has not agreed that this vote will break their normal rule which is that all ten councils must agree. How does the M.E.N. know different? We notice that the story includes - "Earlier in the week, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce announced the result of its own survey of businesses which showed that 57 per cent were against the bid in its present form after one of the biggest responses it had ever had." Did the paper's censor lose the blue pencil, or have they gone on holiday?

  • A late press release - We reported on the 18th that the Manchester transport boss had reveived an award. The M.E.N. for some reason have published the story a week late. - "Jones honoured at awards". The publication of this story today is presumably part of a GMPTE / M.E.N. master plan. What will we have tomorrow? Will the M.E.N. story be "SIR ALEX, KEN BARLOW, THE HALLÉ and OASIS BACK TOLLS!!"
    PS Simon has pointed out what the story says about the £5 charge - "At 2012 prices, this could be as much as £8 per day." They have definitely lost the blue pencil!

    25 July 2007 -
  • Manchester says "Yes" - Or to be more corect one or two handfuls of people said yes to road tolls - BBC - "Authority's support for c-charge". The City Council Leader says that road tolls are needed because of traffic delays and damage to air quality. The "Fifth Annual Monitoring Report" issued on the 11th July by Transport for London says that average traffic speeds in the charge zone are now the same as they were before the charge was introduced (just under 9 mph during the day). The air quality in and around the zone has fluctuated but not improved, which is not surprising as car emissions have little effect on it.

  • More and more of the same - Tameside Advertiser reports on the "electronic Berlin Wall"- "Congestion Charges – The double whammy". While the Oldham Advertiser has - "Car 'taxing' could come to Oldham centre in next decade". They mention more buses. Is this the same as the "bus bonanza" that the M.E.N. was selling us last week? You know, the ones where the boss of the bus company had to write to say that they were getting these buses anyway, even if there was no charge. They also have someone from the GMPTA saying that charges in Oldham etc are "hypothetical" Perhaps he should read the report that went to the GMPTA in January which said - "The regime on Day 1 has to extend beyond the Regional Centre, recognising the significant costs journeys outside the Regional Centre impose on other users. Journeys to all the Town Centres outside the M60 taken together contribute nearly as much to total congestion costs as journeys to the Regional Centre itself. The next phase of the work will determine what the coverage of the regime might be on Day 1 and the timescale and thresholds for embracing all other corridors within Greater Manchester. We are seeking to engage the Highways Agency on the relationship of our emerging strategy with their proposals for managing congestion on the motorway system within the City Region."
  • Trafford says "No" - further to yesterday's news, another report - Northwich Guardian - "Borough rejects congestion charges".
    PS Many people have commented on the BBC News last night where Roger Jones, the Transport boss, reacted to the Trafford vote by saying that it was "flawed". It seems that only polls organised by him give an accurate representation of the public's view. If and when his people answer our Freedom of Information Act request about his poll, we may find out how "unflawed" that was.

  • Another front - At the MEN / Channel M debate on the 17th, a new group appeared from nowhere. They call themselves "Clean Air Now", and appear to be based on similar groups that were formed during the Edinburgh campaign. Clean Air Now has supporters such as Friends of the Earth, but it also includes organisations that in part directly or indirectly receive public money. We wonder if any of the authorities might consider MART as a deserving charity?
    Copying what happened in Edinburgh the group appear to be focussing on the issue of air pollution. The myth that this is mainly due to cars and that road tolls will improve it was dealt with by the NAAT during the Edinburgh Toll Poll campaign. As the Manchester authorities are not making these claims directly and they are not substantiated by any figures, here is what we found out in Edinburgh where figures were available.
    Best of all is that "Clean Air Now" issued a press release (to see it click on "media" on their site) yesterday in which they say that they have reported us to the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading claims!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Elected Mayor - There have been various news reports which have said that if the TIF submission goes in after Friday, and they refuse to have a referendum on the road tolls, then we will campaign for one on an elected Mayor. If 5% of the electorate in a district want it, then the district has to have a referendum on the elected Mayor issue. Initially this would probably be in only one area. Though some of the reports have suggested that this will be Manchester City, all that has been decided is that it would be in one of the areas that vote for congestion charging.

    24 July 2007 -
  • Trafford says "no" - Trafford Council is likely to say no on Friday following its own independent survey paid for by local Conservative party - BBC - "Council opposes congestion charge"   MEN - "C-charge: Trafford votes no".
    PS Trafford Council press release.

  • "MANCHESTER CIVIC SOCIETY TAKES A STAND AGAINST CONGESTION CHARGES" - Manchester Civic Society in the latest issue of their Forum magazine say - "These plans would be destructive to the development and improvement of the City. They form a dire threat to the prosperity of Manchester and its restaurants, bars, shops and businesses in general." -
    page1   page2 (pdf files click on + near top to zoom in).

  • Businesses support tolls - According to the MEN a Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce survey has found that businesses support tolls - "Half of firms back c-charge".
    Somehow the M.E.N. seems to have missed the bit in the Chamber's press release and link to results where they say that - "When asked specifically about whether they were in favour of the current Transport Innovation Fund bid, 43 per cent said they were in favour and 57 per cent said they were against.". (Survey results if you have not got "Word").

  • More of the same - The M.E.N. distributes more of the usual spin from the authorities - "C-charge: Where next?". The original plans for the charge and the maps that the M.E.N. had on its website (but are not there now) clearly showed that the tolls would apply to main routes extending to the border of Greater Manchester, and they wanted if the Government agreed to include the motorways. They then locked all that away from view and came up with the "phase one" plan, which was then sold through the M.E.N. as if that was all ever they intended to do.
    PS Bolton is backing the c charge, apparently on a suck it and see basis. Perhaps Bolton needs a health and safety check - Bolton News - "Council set to back £3bn bid for transport". And here's Wigan getting the "good" news - Wigan Today - "Congestion charges close in". They say that it won't be for "5 to 10 years". Strange as they said phase one would not start for 5 years, does this mean that phase two starts in 5 years plus one day?

  • Leak? - A reporter from the M.E.N. again asserts that the "leak" story last Friday was from a "leak" and not a press release - Hold the Front page - "Was survey leaked or not? Why it matters to the reporter?". The authorities having produced their survey were bound to release it soon anyway. It will be correct that the M.E.N. got this story before there was a press release, but it is not unknown for the Government to "leak" these stories themselves. Though as usual of course the real story is not reported - the authorities are not saying what "script" was used to get the answers that they wanted.

    23 July 2007 -
  • Bolton review - Bolton Council have realised that the plans being sold by the GMPTA are only phase one, and that eventually there will be road tolls throughout Greater Manchester - "Road tolls for town ‘by 2013’". If the Council did not realise this, then how many people in the official survey knew?

  • Pay a few billion in road tolls and we will give you 200 shiny new buses - "First in line for bus bonanza". We wonder where all the drivers for these buses are going to come from?
    PS The M.E.N. on Saturday published a letter from the boss of the bus company. He said that the impression that had been given in the paper that the "bus bonanza" was dependent on con charge money, was a mistake. The bus spending would go ahead even if the con did not.

  • The other Opinion Survey - On 17th July we reported on the results of surveys carried out in parts of five of the Greater Manchester districts. The survey was based on whether the people in the house agreed to sign a petition to "Oppose the introduction of congestion charging in Greater Manchester". The survey of the sixth and final district has been completed and the results were - BOLTON - West Houghton North Chew Moor Road Ward - 334 dwellings, 43 out, 41 declined to sign, 250 signed - 86% against the charges.
    Geoffrey Berg, the local political expert who carried out the surveys has written to the councillors in the areas and said - "These results show overwhelming opposition to not merely these particular plans but to all congestion charging. This is not surprising as most people are not particularly wealthy. Usually they or some other member of their family are struggling to afford to run a car and therefore they do not want to pay a very substantial new tax.
    It also clearly indicates ... that there will be severe and very adverse political consequences in next May's local elections for those parties who are still supporting or colluding in the inclusion of your borough in any continuing, albeit still provisional plans for congestion charging."
  • Another "Referendum" At Trafford Centre - Yesterday, MART were again collecting signatures for the petition.
    trafford   trafford   trafford
    We also got a plug in yesterday's Sunday Mirror which included - "Manchester's huge congestion charge has run into even bigger opposition. Manchester Against Road Tolls says that 80% of the population are against the charge and are demanding a referendum"

    21 July 2007 -
  • Toll Referendum or Mayor referendum - Sean Corker on behalf of MART has said that if the c-charge proposals go ahead without a referendum then MART will press for a referendum on elected Mayors to replace the existing council leaders - Association of British Drivers press release 571.

  • Does "no" mean "no"? - Trafford Tories and thus Trafford may vote against the con charge, but it is not clear whether this will mean anything - M.E.N. - "Trafford says 'no' to c-charge".

  • Where "no" does mean "no" - Shropshire Council yesterday voted unananimously against con charge proposals. For more details see - our main news page.

    20 July 2007 -
  • More on poll - M.E.N. blog gives a few details of the "leaked" poll. The MEN also say that the press release that was issued was only because they had got a genuine "leak", and thus forced the authorities to then issue the press release.

  • "Leak" leaked - Sleuth at Manchester Confidential says that the "leak" story in the M.E.N. follows a press release that was issued yesterday with an embargo for 8 o'clock this morning.

  • "C-charge gets public approval" - That's what the authorities say via a "leak" in - the M.E.N. MART have made a Freedom of Information Act request asking what the actual questions were, and also the "script" that was used by the interviewers. So far we have not got an answer. Perhaps the answers could be "leaked" via the M.E.N. But there again, maybe not.
    Story on BBC and Bolton News.

  • Aidan's view - Simon has found this on the web - "Manchester congestion charge: Critique of the GMPTE document and proposal".

    19 July 2007 -
  • Where have all the letters gone? - Two letters from this week's Tameside Advertiser - join the lobby & effects. The mystery is where are all the letters in the other papers?

  • Juggernaut ready to roll - Chris from MART has noticed in this week's Construction News: - "Contractors are being told to prepare for the £538 million third phase of Greater Manchester's Metrolink light rail system.... The GMPTE expects to advertise for expressions of interest on August 15th. Work will start next April and finish in March 2011."
    Chris's reaction was - "They say 'nothing has been decided' and 'bidding does not mean we have signed up' yet they are straining at the leash. Once this tolls juggernaut starts rolling it will be impossible to stop."

    18 July 2007 -
  • Yes, but give us a tram please - Oldham Council bosses agree to back the tolls - Oldham Advertiser - "Council says ‘yes’ to car tax if Metro runs into our centre".

  • Last Night's Debate Blog - with added comments from MART and Sean Corker. Also includes a short video clip of the debate - MEN.

  • Award for bravery? - Manchester's transport boss has been given an award by other transport bosses - GMPTE Press release. The Chairman of the judges was appropriately David Begg - the power behind Edinburgh's failed attempt to bring in tolls. No doubt David has advised Roger about the folly of letting the people decide.

  • Debate report - Apparently last night's "televised" debate ended in a draw. We wonder why the TV channel, owned by the MEN, did not take the risk of showing it live?   MEN - "C-charge: The great debate".

  • Picture of London - Here's one that must have escaped the censors - the MEN picture editor's blog - MEN Blog - "Congestion charging: It'll never work". John Jeffay's impression is borne out by a report issued last week by Transport for London who admitted that 4 years after they had introduced the charge, the traffic speeds were back to what they were.

    17 July 2007 -
  • 81% say No - Geoffrey Berg, a local political expert has carried out what is in effect an opinion poll in parts of 5 key Greater Manchester wards (he is also doing a poll in a Bolton ward). The basis for the poll was that all the dwellings in the area were visited and asked to sign a petition opposing the Congestion Charge plans. The results were -
  • BURY - Sedgeley Ward - 350 dwellings, 61 out, 50 declined to sign, 239 signed - 83% against the charges.
  • OLDHAM - Hollinwood Ward - 199 dwellings, 30 out, 41 declined to sign, 128 signed - 76% against the charges.
  • ROCHDALE - Heywood North Ward - 340 dwellings, 58 out, 46 declined to sign, 236 signed - 84% against the charges.
  • STOCKPORT - Stepping Hill Ward - 345 dwellings, 58 out, 51 declined to sign, 236 signed - 82% against the charges.
  • TRAFFORD - Timperley Ward - 343 dwellings, 46 out, 70 declined to sign, 227 signed - 76% against the charges.
  • Bolton charge - Bolton News - "Congestion charge could cost Bolton drivers £5.5m". In fact you could probably at least double this number! It is interesting that the anti charge quote comes from the "Institute of Advanced Motorists" - they must be a safer source than those MART fanatics.

  • "Learning the c-charge lessons" - MEN. As a reaction to this "news" report, this letter was sent to MEN by John McGoldrick, a MART member who was involved in Edinburgh opposition to toll plans -
    "Your report "Learning the c-charge lessons", refers to what happened in Edinburgh when the people of that city decided whether they wanted a "congestion charge" or not.
    I was involved in Edinburgh and your report is a biased, one sided account of what happened. The report includes a statement that accuses those of us who opposed the charge of "disinformation and smear tactics". The fact is that the authorities and their supporters, as in Manchester, had vast amounts of public money and resources to sell their plans. The whole referendum including the question that was asked was biased to get a yes vote. Despite this the people of Edinburgh voted three to one against the proposed plans in the Toll Poll of February 2005, and in the recent elections, half of the Labour councillors who supported the tolls, lost their seats and control of the Council.
    I suggest that the main differences between Edinburgh and Manchester are that in Edinburgh the people were given a say, and the local papers reported fully and fairly on the arguments from both sides.

    16 July 2007 -
  • Not so bad after all - Tupele from Coronation Street says "And we thought the congestion charge was harsh" - MEN - "Why I love Manchester". She was comparing Manchester with Singapore where road pricing started and says of Singapore - "There is no welfare system in place ... no unemployment or housing benefits ... The government can take you out of your job and re-train you in whatever field they like, and strikes and protests are illegal. You must bid and pay for a certificate to buy a car then you are slapped with so many fees and taxes that the car costs more than twice its market value." - Give Manchester time, Tupele, Singapore wasn't built in a day!

  • Another Debate Preview - Labour MP, Graham Stringer, has pulled out of tomorrow's debate on the C charge - MEN - "C-charge debate takes shape". He was well known to be opposed to the toll plans - has he been got at?
    This is part of what he said at the end of November when he was quizzing the then Transport Secretary at Transport Committee -
    "Is there any evidence that either Manchester or Birmingham thought congestion was such a problem that they would bring in road user charging, before you put that big carrot out? They do not want it, do they? They are only considering it because you are restricting investment in public transport until you introduce this... To repeat a point I made on the floor of the House, it is particularly peculiar when road speeds in most of the town centres in Greater Manchester are speeding up. Why then would you put such a big incentive there, when there was no demand previously, it is not a good exemplar for a national system, and congestion is getting less?"

    14 July 2007 -
  • "Referendum" At Trafford Centre
    traffordToday MART went to the Trafford Centre collecting signatures for the petition. If this had been a referendum, there is no doubt what the result would be.
    trafford   trafford   trafford

  • Public vote for tolls - The MEN tells its readers that "Plans to introduce road congestion charging received overwhelming backing from members of the public at a key consultation meeting in Manchester" - MEN - "C-charge: Public meeting backs plan". What the MEN does not say is that this meeting was a "Local Transport Forum". The people there were mainly public transport users invited by the GMPTA. There were a few other people there, one of whom asked whther there would be a referendum - the answer was silence, after all you can't invite the voters at a referendum.

  • Mapping the future - Apparently the Bolton councillors have only just seen the congestion charge leaflet that was delivered to all Greater Manchester households and realised that they are on the map - Bolton News - "Congestion charge plan for Bolton". What we don't understand is why they had not seen the earlier map which was even clearer as to where charges would go. For example you can see the map at - MEN. Oops it seems to have gone!

    13 July 2007 -
  • "Fancy that" - Manchester Confidential's Sleuth suggests that the MEN is giving prominence to the anti charge views of Peel Holdings, because the MEN wants to get something in return. We wonder what reason Sleuth would give for the MEN otherwise being in favour of the charges?

  • More on next Tuesday's MEN debate - Added to the panel are Dave Coleman, who seems to be from Friends of the Earth, and Miranda Allan from the Chamber of Commerce, "speaking for the business community" - "The great road debate".

  • "Stockport To Be Divided by C-Charge" - "M60 through Stockport will be an electronic Berlin Wall under Manchester's Congestion Charge Plans" - ABD Press Release.

    12 July 2007 -
  • In or Out? - This weeks Stockport Express has an article 'CAUGHT IN CONGESTION HEADLIGHTS'. The article highlights a market research result which discovered that 62% of businesses questioned were unaware they would be inside the charging zone. So the spinners have obviously done a good job!

  • Bolton Backs Bid - At a full council meeting last night a motion was passed backing road tolls, only the Tories voted against - Bolton News - "Bolton backs congestion bid" (NOTE that there is an online VOTE). It seems that most of the councillors backed the bid (though with many reservations) as they believed it would not affect Bolton - amazing - but here is the full resolution (pdf file).

  • No, to airport sale - Northwich Guardian - "Airport sale is pie in the sky".

    11 July 2007 -
  • How real is "real"? - Following today's earlier item from "How-do", there is another one that seems to come from a firm whose clients include Government Quangos and people like Friends of the Earth. The firm says it was responsible for the leaflet, which it says used "the real experiences of people" - "Creative Concern statement re story on How-Do today".

  • Jobs at risk - Affect of c-charge on Oldham firms - Oldham Advertiser - "Could car tax cost Oldham long awaited rebirth of Hollinwood?".

  • "TV debate on c-charge" - Report on next Tuesday's debate; those speaking against the charge will apparently include Graham Stringer, the former Labour leader of Manchester and now an MP - MEN.

  • Spinning - A Manchester based news industry website - "How-do" has a report on - "SKV, GMPTE and GMPTA embroiled in fracas with the MEN". It seems that a lot of agencies were involved in creating the notorious leaflets, and not just SKV, formerly "Spin Media".
    We all knew that the leaflet (separate page - pdf file) was spin. But the credit for spotting the fake photos, belongs to a Manchester blogger and photo enthusiast - Thomas McEldowney. Here is his original report on 29th June.

    10 July 2007 -
  • "C for "con", says... Con" - Here's an odd one, the new Shadow Transport Transport Secretary says that the £3 billion is a "con". But we only know about this because what she says is rubbished in the - MEN Blog.

  • "What Terry REALLY thinks of c-charge" - More on phoney leaflets - MEN.
    The Bolton News also has - "Meet the fakers!". Like most of the papers they repeat the pitiful excuse from the bosses behind this scheme - "Since no-one is paying a congestion charge now, the case studies have to be based on a future projection." We all knew that they were future projections, but the authorities made people believe that they were based on real cases, not fiction. Pretty much like that other fiction with which this story ends "£3billion Government funding to improve public transport.".

  • Circle Debate - Last night there was a debate about the Con in Mancester's Circle club. The speakers were Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City boss; Phil Doyle, an architect; Paul Henly from the Federation of Small Businesses and Andrew Simpson, a boss from Peel Holdings.
    Manchester Confidential report says that "Each side had a different truth but the body of opinion from the room was that the congestion charge proposals, in their present form, should not go ahead."
    MART members were at the debate though they had not been invited to speak. Here is an account of part of what happened from Simon - Sir Richard's speech was largely the usual tale and talked about changing people attitudes on car use. He also stressed possibly losing out on 3 billion pounds if a national scheme was rolled out. He said that the possible sale of the airport would raise council tax, as they would lose the dividends.

    Phil Doyle supported road tolls and spoke about his love of citys and trains, and compared Manchester to New York.

    Paul Henly was not in principle opposed to road tolls but had very deep reservations about the Manchester scheme. He said that 6 of the 10 people on the so called "independent" AGMA panel had signed a letter supporting the charges. He also pointed out that costs of small businesses would increase and they would have to pass the costs on, as in London.

    Andrew Simpson opposed road tolls and raised the risks that AGMA was taking on the "congestion charge". He suggested that there was another source of money if they sold the airport, and even if they just put the money in the bank, they would earn nearly 5 times more interest than they get in dividends. He asked which party was going to be rash enough to introduce national road pricing when it would be electoral suicide.

    Most importantly Andrew also raised the research done by the authorities which was being kept secret. He said that he had made a Freedom of Information request and had been refused. He said that the consultation questions being asked by the authorities were loaded to get the responses that they wanted.

    Points raised by the audience included-
    A man with his own small business at the Manchester science park, asked how he was supposed to keep his employees when they were priced off the road.
    Simon himself asked why congestion had increased despite peak traffic levels falling 11% since 1999. Though Simon knew the answer - the authorities have deliberately altered roads and junctions so as to reduce capacity and slow traffic.
    Sean Corker asked about the setup costs and the running costs of the congestion scheme and did not get a proper answer.
    9 July 2007 -
  • "Leaflet congestion drivers 'fake'" - Story on BBC, who also covered it in Look North.

  • "C-Charge Fiction from Manchester`s GMPTA" - The authorities (AGMA and the GMPTA) have delivered a leaflet - "Our Future Transport" to all households in the Greater Manchester area. It has now been discovered that the case studies are a fiction - ABD Press Release. Story in the MEN - "C-charge 'locals' don't exist" and Daily Mail - "Council accused of faking C-charge evidence by using American case studies".
    MEN Blog with some excuses - "Danger of off-the-shelf pictures"   "Dude, where's my van?".

  • Pubs conned The "Publican" has last week's story - "Manchester pubs welcome congestion plans". If you are looking to sell a twenty pence bit for fifty pence, then you know where to go!

    7 July 2007 -
  • Requiem Cavalcade
    cavalcadeMART press release - "Two funeral hearses symbolically representing the death of Manchester business and freedom travelled along Deansgate this morning as part of the campaign against proposed congestion tolling within the M60 boundary.
    The hearses were part of a cavalcade of vehicles organised by MART (Manchester Against Road Tolls) to mobilise public opposition to the road toll. The plans are to be voted on by the Greater Manchester council leaders at the end of the month (Friday 27th July).
    cavalcadeMART spokesman, Sean Corker, said -
    "This so called "congestion charging" is really a toll tax which will turn business and cash away from the city. It will also damage individual freedom as collection and enforcement of the charges will rely on cameras."
    "Driving a car is often an essential part of our lives, yet the aim of these charges is to force the poorest off the road. There has been a massive campaign at taxpayers expense to try and sell this regressive tax. MART exists to give a voice to ordinary people and to counter the misleading propaganda."

  • Robbin' without the Hood - The Transport bosses are saying that the poor will "only" have to pay £20 a week in the new Toll Tax - MEN - "C-charge: Low income discounts" The Sheriff of Nottingham would be proud of his modern day successors in Manchester.

  • MEN debate - The MEN are organising what they say is a "debate" about the charges - "C-charge: Join the debate" To what extent will this be a debate or just part of the Road tolls promotion exercise? We wonder why the MEN admits that there is some opposition to the plans of the council bosses, but does not mention MART - are we blacklisted?

    6 July 2007 -
  • "The Congestion Debate: Clash of the Titans" - Manchester Confidential report on one of the coming debates, though it looks as if 95% of this report was written by the con charge PR people. Though perhaps a more important question is why it appears to be only the Council bosses and businesses that have been invited to speak?

  • More spin - From This is Lancashire - "Congestion drivers 'won't pay three times'". Who writes these scripts? They say "Half of the money would be a Government grant". Even if the Government gave them all that they want, it is not half, and most of that will be needed to pay for the toll equipment.

  • "Congestion toll will kill business" - Two weeks ago the Tameside Advertiser had the big boss from the GMPTA telling readers - "it's nearly time to make minds up". Yesterday they printed this response of Rob from MART. (You should be able to enlarge the images)

  • Map of the future - Buy Two, Get One Free? - The M.E.N. have a map of phase one of the road tolls scheme - "How will the c-charge affect you?". The toll spinners don't seem to have their act together. On Tuesday they denied that phase one would include a third ring, yet now it's Friday we have a map with the third ring on! We gave our comment on all this on the MEN site, but it seems to have been censored!

    5 July 2007 -
  • Bars somersault - Manchester City Centre Club and Pub Network have decided to support tolls - MEN - "Pub and club u-turn over c-charge". The reason that is being given for this decision is that the charges will not affect them. But this is based on what the Councils have said for phase one and not their ultimate plans. It would interesting to know why the bars have ignored the longer term and ignored the effect on leisure businesses in London.

  • Truckers against Tolls, for truckers that is - Hauliers say that they should be exempt from any charges. (The plan is that they will pay more than cars, but the amount is a secret.) - RHA Press release - "Manchester's Congestion Charge Plans are "Fatally Flawed" says RHA".

  • Bikers against tolls, for bikers that is - "MAG SLAM CONGESTION CHARGES".

  • Airport story lingers on - MEN - "Is there a case for selling airport?"   Wigan Observer - "Council dismisses airport sale idea".

    4 July 2007 -
  • Trafford Tories against Tolls? - It seems that the Tories in Traford oppose the con charges. This is good news, but why so far have they voted in favour of the toll plans? - "Tories slam congestion charge plans".

  • More on Airport "Sale" It's strange that the real news about the "con" being perpetrated on the people in the Manchester area is not to be seen in the papers, but this "flight" of fancy is - Manchester Confidential - "Congestion charging solved"   MEN Party Animal Blog   MEN - "Councils dismiss airport sale"   MEN - "Airport NOT for sale"   MEN - "Who would buy the airport?"   MEN - "Business split over airport sale".

    3 July 2007 -
  • "Manchester's £3 Billion Con" - The Association of British Drivers are to have a billboard campaign against the Manchester toll charges - ABD Press Release.

  • More on "Sell airport" - MEN Party Animal Blog.

    More on the ring cycle - This Is Lancashire - "Road charge third zone plan angers the experts". They say - "We did not want a system that would become complicated." Is this for phase one? Or phase zero, or phase ninety nine or what?

  • Spinning the rings - In what looks like a damage limitation exercise, the council bosses say that what was said yesterday in the MEN about the third ring is not so - MEN - "Congestion charge pledge". The people of Greater Manchester are being fed so much spin, it must be hard to digest!!

    Stockport Survey - Stockport, led by the Lib Dems, seem to be the council who are least enthusiastic about the "congestion charge" plans. They are now to carry out their own sample poll - Press Release - "Plans for congestion charging in Stockport hinge on public views".

    "Sell airport" - Peel Holdings, who own the Trafford Centre and Liverpool Airport, suggest that instead of collecting £3 billion from drivers, the authorities sell off Manchester Airport - MEN - "'Ditch c-charge - sell airport'".

    2 July 2007 -
  • Another ring - What people have so far been told about the Manchester Toll is just the tip of the iceberg, yet they are already looking at changing phase one - MEN - "Triple blow for city drivers".

    29 June 2007 -
  • Council bosses meet - The AGMA Executive met at Stockport and considered "Governance" and the road charging plans. They aim to make this process even less democratic, but the news media turned a blind eye to what was going on.

  • Rich back Road tolls - The authorities have managed to find some backers - MEN - "Bosses back c-charge".

  • More on Burying the Con - We have now seen the full resolution that Labour and the Tories passed at Bury on Wednesday night after they combined to defeat the Lib Dem motion opposing the "congestion charge" plans. It includes - "We do not believe the current proposals have the detail necessary to satisfy the tests devised by AGMA." And ends - "We therefore agree to discuss this issue at a future Council meeting once the outcome of discussions with the Department of Transport are known and before any support is given to the principle of congestion charging.". Doesn't sound too bad, except that their next meeting is well AFTER the plan is submitted to the Government for approval.
    Story in Radcliffe Times Reporter - "Opposition to congestion charge defeat" and Prestwich & Whitefield Reporter - "Lib Dem call to oppose road fees is thrown out".

  • More on Ruth - Bolton News - "Ruth Kelly's 'wonderful opportunity'".

    28 June 2007 -
  • Local in charge - Ruth Kelly, MP for Bolton West is the new Transport Secretary, so she will now be in charge of persuading Greater Manchester to be a tolls guinea pig for England - MEN - "Kelly faces tough job".

  • Burying the Con? - No, because it seems the Cons back the Con or at least are staying firmly glued to sitting on the fence - At the Council meeting last night in Bury there was a Lib Dem motion which included - "Council therefore resolves to: 1. Oppose the congestion charge scheme as outlined in the current proposals.". But the Tories sided with Labour to defeat the motion. Instead Labour and Tories together passed a motion which could meaning anything or more likely nothing. It has been suggested to MART that the Bury Tories and Labour are sitting on the fence till they get the results of the public "consultation". If anyone believes that the "consultation" exercise will really reflect the views of people or businesses, they must be living on another planet.
    Report in Bury Times written before last night's meeting - Bury Times - "Further congestion charges for the borough?".

  • Another report on the Business survey - Middleton Guardian - "Firms oppose Toll Tax".

  • Burying the Con? - Report in Bury Times written before last night's meeting - Bury Times - "Further congestion charges for the borough?".

    27 June 2007 - Vote
  • - Some MART members attended the neighbourhood forum on Tuesday night at Altrincham Town Hall in Trafford. They made it clear that there is wide spread opposition to the road toll plans, and in a show of hands at the forum those against outvoted those in favour by two to one. All the more likely that there won't be a referendum!!

    25 June 2007 -
  • Peel says NO - There were some indications that Peel Holdings, who own the Trafford Centre, the Ship Canal, and Liverpool Airport, etc were opposed to the con charge. This is now very clear as they now say on their websites that they "strongly oppose the proposed congestion charge for Greater Manchester", and have links to the new anti toll tax site - Example - see top right.

  • That yellow bus again - One MART supporter told us that - "I went round to the yellow bus on Saturday to give them a piece of my mind. As other people have noted, it was far from busy and I easily gained access (in fact I was the only member of the public showing any interest one way or the other). The T-shirts seem to be having a nice rest, paid for by the taxpayer, no doubt. It became apparent some time into my discussion with them that there are "feedback forms" - it may be that they usually only mention these if the feedback is "yes please"! Of course I have no way of knowing what they do with negative feedback forms after you've walked away, otherwise it might be worth while people going to the yellow bus tour, just to fill in the forms."

    24 June 2007 -
  • Burying the Con - The political parties in Bury appear to be in agreement, and against the proposed road tolls - Bury Times - "Parties join in opposition to congestion charge plan".

  • Poisoned Chalice? - Though Labour no londer have a majoprity, their man has been elected leader of the GMPTA - GMPTE Press Release.

  • Congestion engineering - When they wanted to introduce road tolls in Edinburgh, they spent several years preparing for it, by creating as much congestion as possible. A story today raises speculation that they are to do more of the same in Greater Manchester - MEN - "Months of misery in pipeline". In this case the authorities may not be to blame, but they have done enough already - Some examples of how the Greater Manchester authorities are already creating congestion.

  • "D" Day PPS - MEN report about Saturday - "C-charge: 'A wall around the city'".

    24 June 2007 - "D" Day PS
    BBC News on line report about yesterday - "New petition against road charge".

    23 June 2007 - "D" Day
    marketToday the opposition against the plans for road charges in Greater Manchester kicked into a higher gear. Part of this was a press conference organised by Sean and Neil, to launch a new epetition against the tolls. The event got great coverage on TV and radio and was the number one item on regional news. Let us see what coverage it gets in the M.E.N!
    There were various speakers including Peter Roberts (who started the 1.8 million petition against road pricing) he said - "Now is the time for the people of Manchester to start the fight back against these toll plans which will destroy jobs and put the city at a major economic disadvantage. Transport planners have hatched a scheme to isolate Manchester with a version of the Berlin Wall, an electronic barrier called the M60 motorway — an astonishing own goal for a great city.Politicians are denying the people of Manchester a voice on this crucial issue and Manchester Against Road Tolls (MART) is determined to give them their say."

    Report on Channel Four - "Congestion charge petition online".
    Granada News report.
    marketAt the same time as the epetition was being launched, members of MART were in Market Street encouraging people to sign a paper version of the petition and distributing leaflets. Here are some of the MART mob! (Paul, Mike, John, Steve, Rob, Simon are the "mob". The other picture is of Ian, who volunteered to help.)

    MART members also went along to demonstrate at the Yellow bus location. Though this turned out to be pointless as there were only children there being given balloons. When the report goes to the councils to show how overwhelming the support is for the new taxes, will the councillors also be told that those consulted say that lemom and lime is their favourite flavour lollipop?

    22 June 2007 -
  • More on the authorities trying to slate the Peel survey of businesses - MEN - "C-charge: War or words" and The Party Animal - "Seconds Out".

  • This was also on the BBC yesterday - "Businesses 'opposed' to c-charge" and Bolton News today - "80pc of city firms are against congestion charges".

    21 June 2007 -
  • The spin merchants have been busy trying to repair the damage done by the Peel survey of businesses - MEN The Party Animal - "C-charge: the business end". We are pleased to see the comment added by Keith Turpin who has not only seen through the spin, but has tried to do something about it. Though the MEN will probably be being delivered to Mars before he gets any answers!!!!

  • Government say NO to new road The Government have postponed improvement to the road link between the M60 at Bredbury and the A6 at Hazel Grove. They say that this is because the cost has gone up to one billion pounds - MEN - "Costs put brake on relief route". One billion pounds is what the Government takes off drivers - in just one week! It is staggering that the Stockport MP volunteered that the new road should be tolled!!   Press release from Stockport Council.

  • Peel Business Survey 80 per cent of businesses oppose the proposed road charges according to a poll of over 1,000 businesses - MEN - "Business opposes c-charge".

  • Con poll The MEN has dug out an old poll and suggests that people do support the toll proposals - "C-charge: mixed messages".

    20 June 2007 -
  • Report of demo "Protest to be held over Manchester road toll".

  • Business Move The Bolton News reports on a firm moving to Bolton to escape the "Congestion charge" - "£10m BMW move to Bolton". This story illustrates how people are being fooled. Phase One of the toll scheme will have an indirect effect over the whole area of Greater Manchester, and by the time that later phases kick in, Bolton and everywhere else in Greater Manchester will be directly affected.

    19 June 2007
    Rob from MART was on hand for the Yellow bus visit to Ashton Market and recorded this strange sight -
    ashtonThis was the sight most of the time. See how busy the consultation of public opinion is.
    ashtonWow! Where did all these people come from!
    Did you spot Ricky Gervais?

    18 June 2007
  • ABD Press Release About Saturday's demo - "Manchester Against Road Tolls".

  • Chill factor Would Europe's biggest indoor ski centre be being built at Trafford, if they had known about the con?   MEN - "Charge worries for ski slope".

  • Not the Yellow bus the Manchester Toll is being sold at neighbourhood forums, so go along if you can - Northwich Guardian - "Get involved".

    16 June 2007 - On the trail of the Yellow Bus
    The tolls propaganda bus starts on its travels today.The bus is due to be at Wythenshawe Park from 2 to 4pm this afternoon. Manchester Against Road Tolls are staging a small demonstration. If you can help, they are meeting at the Wythenshawe Road entrance to the park at 1.30 pm. The park is near junction 5 of the M60.

    15 June 2007 - "Two out of Three Drivers support it"
    An official M.E.N. blog says that drivers nationally and in Greater Manchester support road pricing. We posted a comment, but it may be filtered out, so here it is - "If the elite that are behind the proposed road charges believe this, then will they risk a referendum?   No, they won't, because they know that the truth is that charges would be rejected. In fact, even ordinary Greater Manchester councillors would reject it - if they ever get asked."

    14 June 2007 - "What you will pay"
    The disinformation campaign is working in so far that almost no one realises that the £5 daily charge is just for starters ("phase one"), even so people are not happy - South Manchester Reporter.

    13 June 2007 - Another Four
  • "We don’t back congestion charge plan" - Bolton Tories make their position clear - Bolton News.

  • Yellow Bus Tour - The Manchester toll spinners on the road - Bolton News - "Yellow bus tour will explain congestion plans".

  • One horse "race" - More on Greater Manchester being the first (only?) road pricing pilot - MEN - "Closing in on c-charge cash". This story assumes the £3 billion will fall out of the sky. In fact most of it would come from tolls income, and if you add in the cost of collecting tolls, then effectively it will all come from Greater Manchester's road users.

  • Psst.. "Manchester Confidential" today says - "Manchester’s bid depends on community and business support but has been approved by the Greater Manchester councils." Really? When have any of the 10 councils ever voted on this? And who believes that it depends on public support?

    12 June 2007 - Four
  • "Congestion charging - do it at your peril - we have just about had enough" - Letter in - Bolton News.

  • Where wise men fear to tread - Doubt whether West Midlands will follow Greater Manchester over the top - MEN - "Rival stalls over C-charge" (see also the comments).

  • Gain not worth the pain - Trafford Centre says "no thank you" - MEN - "Trafford Centre blasts roads toll".

  • "Irrational and intemperate diatribe against congestion charging" - In the Bolton News, someone with the same name as a Labour candidate says - "Study road charge proposals before passing judgement". What this ignores is that all the public have been told is spin.

    10 June 2007 - "Parties join forces over congestion charges"
    A report that says that Lib Dem and Tory councillors in Bolton "withdrew support for a road-charging scheme" and the council's position is under review - Bolton News. The mystery about this and similar reports on other councils is that when it comes to a vote, they have all voted for tolls.

    8 June 2007 - Another petition
    Letter in Bolton News - "Campaign now or pay later". There are already at least 4 live petitions against the charge, what we do need is more campaigning.

    7 June 2007 - "Township chief says Toll Tax 'nonsense'"
    We applaud Councillor Williams for attacking the toll plans, but he goes on to say - "When people finally get a chance to vote on this nonsense, transport bosses will be running away with a flea in their ear and politicians who backed it will be pretending they did not." - What gives him the idea that the trolls will give people a choice?   Middleton Guardian.

    6 June 2007 - Two
  • All households in the Greater Manchester area are to be sent a leaflet telling them that road tolls is the best thing - ever - Bolton News - "Leaflet will explain congestion plans". Don't bother looking at the "" link - though it was first announced over a week ago, it isn't working.

  • Bus operators are backing the Big Con plans - Stockport Express - "Wheels need to be set in motion for transport overhaul". This is not surprising, partly as they will gain as people are forced to take a bus, but mainly because the Government is bringing back bus regulation, which means that the authorities will decide whose buses are allowed on the road, and other operatiors will be forced out.

    5 June 2007 - One Labour view
    Andy Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh, says he is not happy with the congestion charge plans as there is a lack of adequate public transport in his area - This is Lancashire - "MP calls for congestion charge re-think".

    4 June 2007 - round up
  • A Government Quango joins in the spin - NWDA - "Manchester road toll will "radically improve" public transport".
  • To bike or not to bike - MEN - "Bikers also face c-charge".

    1 June 2007 - Roundup
  • From the sleuth - Manchester Confidential.

  • Other stories - This is Lancashire 1st - "Anger at bid to tax bikers"   This is Lancashire 31st - "Mixed reaction to plans from local interests"   Middleton Guardian 31st - "Middleton says no"   Bolton News 31st - "Regular buses on all routes - guaranteed"   MEN 31st - "Congestion charges 'will pay for buses'" (see comments at bottom)   Oldham Advertiser 30th - "Congestion charges by the year 2012"   Wigan Today 30th - "Congestion fee green light".

    30 May 2007 - Businesses against
  • Research by Yougov and paid for by Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank shows that 81% of small businesses in Manchester and the surrounding area oppose road pricing - Easier business - "Majority of small businesses in Manchester area do not support road pricing".

  • The Manchester Pub and Club Network say that the charge will be "the death of Manchester" - MEN - "Charge could kill nightlife". This story has a lot of comments added at the bottom!

    26 May 2007 - A Bit more (see also "Democracy British Style" in yesterday's news)
  • The authorities disregarded the Access to Information rules and kept their plans secret, but the report that was considered yesterday by the GMPTA "Emergency" Committee and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities is here - "GREATER MANCHESTER INTEGRATED TRANSPORT STRATEGY: PROGRESS WITH TRANSPORT INNOVATION FUND BID".

  • A few more stories since yesterday - MEN - "Charge is key to £3bn transport revolution"   Bolton News - "Is Moor Lane bus station on the move?"   Mirror - "C-CHARGE FOR MANCHESTER"   Guardian - "Manchester to charge drivers for travelling at peak times", including a view from one of the other pilot areas - Norwich Evening News - "New row over road pricing scheme".

    25 May 2007 - Democracy British style
  • Two of us from the "Manchester Against Road Tolls" campaign were at Manchester Town Hall today to hear all about their toll plans, which were leaked to BBC and local papers yesterday. As you might guess we were now allowed in. We will be revealing more of what is going on when we have time to write it up!
    Strange how the news media knew what the plans were when the council leaders who approved these plans did not officially see them till 10 this morning - BBC - "City congestion fee plan unveiled"   Motorcycle News - "Bikes to be hit by road pricing"   Guardian - "'£5 charge to enter city' plan"   Guardian - "'£5 charge to enter city' plan"   Reuters - "Manchester plans 5-pound congestion charge"   Daily Mail - "Rush-hour motorists face £5 charge to drive into Manchester"   MEN - "Bosses split over c-charge plans"   Manchester Confidential - "Congestion charging to hit the city"   Daily Express - "'£5 CHARGE TO ENTER CITY' PLAN"   MEN - "C-charge details revealed"   MEN - "Referendum call on congestion charges"   MEN - "Countdown to charging".

  • We have issued this press release -


    A bleak future for British Drivers was unveiled today (Friday) in Manchester.

    Plans had already been leaked but at a press conference at Manchester Town Hall it was confirmed that the ten Councils in the Manchester area would promise to introduce road tolls. In return they are hoping to be given billions of pounds of taxpayers money.

    For phase one of the scheme, the charge would be £5 for a car driver coming from outside Manchester into the city centre between &:00 and 9:30 am and then leaving between 4:00 and 6:30 pm. At other times and for other journeys there would be no charge or a lower charge. Commercial vehicles would pay more, but no figures have been quoted.

    Under the umbrella of the Association of British Drivers and the National Alliance Against Tolls, a Manchester group has been formed to oppose the plans. A spokesman for Manchester Against Road Tolls said - "This is a bad day for drivers all over Britain, we might as well be living is Stalinist Russia. There is a complete lack of democracy and information is being kept from the public. We are not surprised that after their failure in Edinburgh there will not be referendum. Instead there will be a sham token consultation following a massive spin exercise."

    "Some Manchester people may be breathing a sigh of relief that instead of charges of up to £1.34 a mile as announced by the Government, the daily charge for cars is a maximum of £5, and may not apply to many people. The reality is that this is a Trojan horse. Once the system is in place they can do what they like. In fact the details that have been revealed today only apply to what is called Phase 1. Ken Livingstone has already demonstrated in London what will happen - he increased the £5 charge to £8 and has doubled the size of the charge zone."

    "When this system is rolled out nationally there will have to be substantial charges just to cover the costs. The government themselves have said that the implementation costs could be up to £62 billion with many billions more each year for running costs."

    "People may at least feel reassured that the system will be a tag and beacon and not spying on motorists. The truth however is that to try and enforce any system there will have to be cameras which will identify and record vehicle details. It is the only way that those who deliberately or inadvertently don't pay can be traced and fined and prosecuted."

    "Road pricing is just another poll tax and will hit less well off drivers the hardest. The intention can only be to try and force them off the road. All drivers rich or poor are already contributing £50 billion a year in taxes on road use. Drivers do not want even more taxes that will be wasted on an army of bureaucrats, bailiffs and snoopers.".
    25 May 2007 - A consultant's life is a happy one
    The Times City Diary yesterday had a snippet about the Commons Transport Select Committee meeting recently to consider Greater Manchester’s bid for a con charge - "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 .." Well we have said before that the only ones bound to benefit from this process are the consultants. Most of whom no doubt can pay a con charge a million times over and not notice it.

    24 May 2007 - More reports
    More on the Greater Manchester plans. The BBC say - "Congestion charge plans revealed". They also have a video report at - (see video link at top right). This confirms what we suspected, the spin doctors behind this scheme are driving a coach and horses through the rules about Access to Information, by keeping the plans from the public till they have a news conference. Other Manchester stories are - Birmingham Post - "Manchester ahead on road pricing"   Rochdale Council - "Chance to have your say on congestion charges"   Middleton Guardian - "Transport Bill fails to regulate firms"   24dash - "Road pricing schemes for Birmingham and Manchester 'by 2012'"   Bury Times - "Drivers to face pay zone charges".

    22 May 2007
    The MEN reports that the Federation of Small Businesses are complaining that they are not on the "independent" panel - "'Don't gag us on charges'". As the panel consists of those who support tolls, it might be better for the FSB to keep clear.

    18 May 2007 - the "Gravy Train"
    And another report on Labour losing control of the body that plans to toll Greater Manchester roads - "Tories gain control in Bury". There have also been some interesting comments, including about the "gravy train" added to an earlier story - "C-charge coup". It seems that though national politicians are working together to rip off drivers, the local politicians are not willing to be bribed, blackmailed and bullied into agreeing to unwanted road tolls.

    17 May 2007 - More on doubts
    Another report on Labour possibly losing control of the body that plans to toll Greater Manchester roads - This is Lancashire - "The Tories take the reins".

    16 May 2007 - doubt
    Labour may lose control of the body that plans to toll the roads - MEN - "Lib Dems launch c-charge coup".

    5 May 2007 - Bonanza!
    Another article drooling over all the wonderful things that money will be spent on when Greater Manchester drivers start paying a toll tax - Wigan Reporter - "Ring road could be done at last".

    3 May 2007 - Fancy that
    It seems that some people have already bought into the idea of a wonderful new public transport system - to be paid for by motorists - South Manchester Reporter - "Bigger bang plan".

    2 May 2007 - update
    There seems to be a determined effort in Greater Manchester to mislead the public on the so called "congestion charge" proposals and to sell the scheme on the promise of a BIG pot of gold. Will voters be fooled tomorrow?   Salford Advertiser today - "Who's going to pay - you or them?"   MEN Blog Monday - "Highly charged"   MEN Monday - "C-charge 'still too high a cost'"   MEN Monday - "C-charge 'will fund transport revolution'".

    30 April 2007 - Yes or No?
    We have been trying to find out what really happened last Friday, when the bosses of all the Greater Manchester districts officially got together and reportedly re-endorsed the toll plans. We have so far had no success, but here is a report in Transport Briefing - "Manchester chiefs promise transparency on TIF bid".

    28 April 2007 - Democracy it ain't
    The Executive of the "Association of Greater Manchester Authorities" met yesterday at Swinton. It was not on their agenda, but according to the Manchester Evening News, bosses from all 10 councils in the area re-endorsed the proposed "congestion charge" scheme - "Road chiefs defy c-charge rebels". Four out of the ten councils that have done this, have recently said that they don't support the scheme. Did they not mean this or have they no control over the bosses who attend AGMA meetings?

    27 April 2007 - Four down, Six to go
    Following Wednesday's report it is now confirmed that Bolton Council is no longer backing the Manchester Toll - MEN - "Bolton drop c-charge support"   MEN - "Brakes put on support for road charging". This means that four out of the ten councils are now saying that they don't support the congestion charge plans.

    26 April 2007 - threat
    Another report on the Government threat to councils if they don't go ahead with Manchester Toll - Middleton Guardian - "Toll tax rebels defy government warning".

    25 April 2007 - And another one bites the dust?
    Bolton Council may join the other 3 councils who now claim that they are no longer backing the Manchester Toll - "Storm grows over congestion charge".

    24 April 2007 - New threats
    As the threat that they will not be given money has not deterred some councils from withdrawing support for the Manchester Tolls, the Government is now making fresh threats. A local MP, who is also a Local Government Minister, says that if the councils don't do what the Government says then they will be denied promised devolved powers - MEN - "Warning for c-charge rebels".

    21 April 2007 - What the Parties Say
    The local elections are coming up and the parties who all voted for tolls are worried what the voters will do. This is what those in Salford told the local paper. They all seem to be denying what they all voted for and are accusing the other parties of being the ones who want tolls:-

    Only the Liberal Democrats are in favour of a comprehensive system of road pricing, we will only support congestion charging if the following conditions are met: Before any system can be considered public transport must be transformed out of all recognition. It must be easy to use and cheap. Business growth which we have worked so hard to create in Salford must not be harmed. Communities that border the proposed corridors should not be disadvantaged. This means that we must have no rat running or charging for short journeys along the corridor. The charges must only apply for a limited period when congestion is rife not a London approach where the charges are levied all the time. Charges should not be a tax the money should be invested into public transport. Some way has to be found to encourage more use of public transport and to make it a better experience.
    The Tories would have you believe that nothing can be done, that your future is to sit fuming in traffic jams. I believe that a very limited use of charging might raise the money required to solve the problem. Only however, if all the conditions are met and the vast majority of motorists have to pay nothing would we even consider it. Extensive public consultation is still to be carried out which we welcome. The council has still to make a final decision and we have set out clearly what we require.

    Lib Dems
    We have been supportive of Labour on this issue - but only on the basis that they were honest and upfront about their proposals. We gave them until the 13th of April to put some meat on the bone and they have not. Labour know exactly how much and where they want to charge - but they’re keeping the details secret until after the elections. I’m in favour of a referendum on the issue but I recognise that this throws up some thorny problems.
    Everybody admits that there’s a problem with traffic - but very few motorists also admit that their driving is part of the problem. We need to make sure that any scheme introduced in Greater Manchester results in improved public transport. No system should be introduced unless the bus services are re-regulated and money raised is ploughed back into public transport and environmental improvements. We also have huge concerns that the Government is determined to use Greater Manchester as a pilot for a spy in the sky satellite tracking system. People here don’t want Big Brother watching their every movement. Traffic problems in Salford and the rest of Greater Manchester need to be sorted urgently - for the sake of both the environment and the economy. But plans should be introduced openly, fairly and democratically - not railroaded in under a cloud of secrecy.

    Salford Conservative councillors are opposed to congestion charging in Salford.
    We do not believe that Salford will get a sufficient share of the public transport funding promised by the Government to accompany the proposed congestion charges in Greater Manchester. The charge would probably apply to all ‘A’ class roads and would present a considerable financial burden for vehicle drivers in the city. The only likely funding coming Salford’s way would be for the speedy implementation of the Leigh Guided Busway, which Conservatives and residents have consistently opposed from the very beginning, because of it’s adverse effect on the East Lancs road and every road crossing it. The AGMA leaders, made up of mainly Labour and Liberal Democrat members, are spearheading the bid for funding, but have clearly stated that congestion charging will only be introduced if there is public approval for it. Salford Conservatives will call for this public approval to be demonstrated by a positive vote in a countywide referendum before congestion charging could be introduced. The AGMA leaders are not directly elected by the voters and therefore lack direct democratic legitimacy. Electors who are opposed to congestion charging and road charging should vote Conservative on May 3rd.

    20 April 2007 - More doubts about plans
    The Manchester Evening News reports - "C-charge plans 'run off road'". This must really have the national politicians worried, as Greater Manchester is their main hope for starting their plans for tolls on all roads.
    PS The letter from the man behind the toll plans is in more of the local papers including the Bolton News - "The final decision is a long way off".PS The letter from the man behind the toll plans is in more of the local papers including the Bolton News - "The final decision is a long way off".

    19 April 2007 - Four
    A few stories today - MEN - "D-day looms in town hall battle"   This is Cheshire - "Council's opposition to congestion charge"   Middleton Guardian - "Council leader: No toll tax"   MEN - "Parking perk for green drivers".

    18 April 2007 - It's official - Two out of Three people are eager to pay road tolls!!!
    An organisation called "Manchester Is My Planet" apparently with the backing of the Manchester Evening News say that "Almost two-thirds of the region backs Manchester's proposed scheme as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.". Really? And who are "Manchester Is My Planet"? Experience elsewhere is that though organisations like this are run by greens they are funded by the authorities and business interests - MEN - "Green survey: Your verdict".
    PS The Stockport Express has the news that first broke on Monday about Stockport and two other councils pulling out of support for the charge - "Congestion charge latest: Stockport Council says ‘NO’". We are a bit worried that the words used by the Leader of Stockport Council leave them free to rejoin the toll club after the May elections. Though elsewhere, Kevin Hogg, the chair of Stockport's Planning and Highway committee has said "I am dead against these stupid charges".
    PPS The Labour boss of Greater Manchester Transport tells that there are no plans for road charges - "Latest: Manchester congestion charge scheme". Most of the politicans seem to assume that the voters are stupid. Let's hope that the politicians are wrong.

    17 April 2007 - May elections
    David Ottewell from the Manchester Evening News speculates on the effect at the ballot box of yesterday's news - "The Party Animal".

    16 April 2007 - Some parties back away from
    In Greater Manchester, the Lib Dems and Tories are backing away from the Manchester Toll plans. At least they are according to the MEN - "Councils in C-charge revolt".
    PS BBC - "Congestion plans suffer setback". Note that on BBC tv , they roped in the RAC Foundation to give their sales pitch in favour of tolls. Who needs commercial TV?
    PPS Bolton's Labour leader says that he still supports the Greater Manchester Con - Bolton News - "Council continues to back Congestion Charge".

    10 April 2007 - Tories say No
    Tories in Salford are opposing the toll plans for Greater Manchester -
  • Salford Advertiser - "Tax could take toll on Labour".

    3 April 2007 - Congestion engineering
    Rule One of the plan when you want to introduce tolls as "congestion charges", is to first create congestion. One way to do this is of course to reserve part of the road for one particular form of traffic, and force the rest of the traffic into a smaller space. Manchester is now tightening the screw, by more strictly enforcing bus lanes - BBC - "Bus lane offenders 'cut by 25%'" (It is interesting that the BBC link is not to Manchester but to TfL, experts in creating congestion.)

    23 March 2007
    Salford Advertiser 22nd - "It’s councillors who may pay the real price of congestion"   MEN 22nd - "Trafford boss opposes C-Charge"   MEN 22nd - "80% fear C-charge effects"   MEN 22nd - "NO to road toll"   Wilmslow Express 21st - "Less than half in the borough are in favour of charge"   Tameside Advertiser 21st - "Road tolls must pay for Metro".

    21 March 2007 - Survey
    MEN - "Two-thirds against c-charge". Note that the story has "Related links" that give details of the survey.
    MEN - "How opinions differ across region"   MEN - "Train 'won't take the strain'"   MEN - "Many would pay to stay at the wheel"   South Manchester Reporter (there are similar reports in about 10 other Manchester regional titles) - "Two thirds are against congestion charging".

    20 March 2007 - More From Manchester way
  • Some more reports from what looks likely to be Britain's first area to jump off the road pricing cliff - MEN 20th - "£1bn price of peace in bus wars"   MEN 19th - "'M60 ready for charging'"   MEN 19th - "'City 'will pilot c-charge'".
    PS Last Friday the DfT issued a press release - "£13.5 million boost to tackle congestion". It seems that they are planning to make things worse as a prelude to a con scheme. They will be increasing congestion by measures such as more "Pelican crossing facilities" and "new bus priority measures".

    16 March 2007 - From Manchester way
  • Greater Manchester looks as if it will the first area in Britain to be a pilot for road pricing. How lucky can you get!

  • Some recent reports - Stockport Express - Map of tolled corridors   MEN 14 March - "C-charge 'will drive shoppers away'"   Bolton News 10 March - "Labour 'will not endorse London-style traffic charges'"   MEN 6 March - "Road tax should fund metrolink - MP"   MEN 2 March - "City rejects national C-Charge"   Middleton & N Manchester Guardian 1 March - "Councillors say no to Toll Tax"   Middleton & N Manchester Guardian 1 March - "Toll Tax: We demand a referendum"   MEN 27 Feb - "Ministers' road charge challenge"   MEN 27 Feb - "Transport: Have your say"   MEN 25 Feb - "Osbourne: Let Manchester decide"   Middleton & N Manchester Guardian 22 Feb - "MP pledges to fight Toll Tax"   Wigan Today 22 Feb - "Sort transport before charging" MEN 21 Feb - "Ministers deny 'blackmail' over transport cash".

    11 March 2007 - Politics Show
  • The BBC Politics Show featured road pricing and their misleading survey in two regions this morning. One region was the West Midlands which also featured the proposed con charge for Shrewsbury. The other region was the North West, where Greater Manchester is expected to be the first city in Britain to trial road pricing. (London has already got a "congestion" charge, but the Greater Manchester scheme would cover a far bigger area and probably use different technology.)
    The BBC reported the usual propaganda about the success of the Stockholm scheme and trotted out (probably in ignorance) the claim that the people had voted for it. The people in the city did narrowly vote for it, but if you include the referenda that were held in the suburbs, then the majority were against.
    We also of course had the Roads Minister, Doctor Ladyman, who has memorised his lines about not having road pricing if the people did not want it.
    The BBC reporter did ask the $64,000 question - "Would the people of the region get a say in a referendum?" This question was not asked of the Doctor, nor was it asked of any of the Greater Manchester politicians who are behind this. For some strange reason it seems that not a single one was available to endorse tolls. Instead the question was addressed to Manchester's most senior official. He avoided answering the question (though the interviewer didn't notice). Instead he suggested that there was no alternative to road pricing. We wonder who is running Greater Manchester? It certainly isn't the people, and it looks as if may not even be the local politicians.
    To be fair to the BBC they did allow a couple of dissenting voices - David Sumberg, Tory MEP, and Sean Corker from the Association of British Drivers.

    22 Feb 2007 - Referendum - MEN - "C-charge: calls for a referendum".

    20 Feb 2007 - Blackmail - Manchester E.N. - "Councils 'blackmailed' into road pricing schemes".

    15 Feb 2007 - Unhappy MP One of the MPs from the Manchester area is not happy about the proposed con charge - Middleton & North Manchester Guardian - "MP tells House Toll Tax will put area at disadvantage".

    13 Feb 2007 - Petition Manchester Evening News - "Petition hits congestion charge plan".

    8 Feb 2007 - Say "no"
    A Manchester paper has a petition (one of many) against the proposed Manchester Toll - Middleton & North Manchester Guardian - "Say ‘no’ to the congestion charge".

    7 Feb 2007 - Questions and answers?
    Greater Manchester's transport boss is questioned about the toll plans- Stockport Express. The best bit is the reply to the question on whether there will be a referendum.

    5 Feb 2007 - "Independence" the troll way
    The MEN reports that the so called "independent panel" that is looking at Greater Manchester's so called "congestion charge" has excluded one nominee. He was nominated by the only Tory Council in the area - Trafford. It is not clear whether this is why he was excluded or whether it's because he thinks that the charge would be bad for the region - "Peel snubbed over pay-to-drive panel".

    3 Feb 2007 - Con plans endorsed
  • The Greater Manchester transport bosses have met and endorsed the "congestion charge" plans - MEN - "Transport chiefs back congestion charge move".

  • There have been a lot of letters and comments about the Greater Manchester con. Here is one today in - MEN - "Bolton News".

    2 Feb 2007 - Improving public transport
    When the Greater Manchester councils agreed last Friday that they would introduce "congestion charges", they said that one essential condition was that public transport would have to be improved first. They are now taking the first step - by increasing bus fares - MEN - "Revealed: Huge bus fares increase".

    1 Feb 2007 - "We Say No to Congestion charge"
    One of the Manchester papers has started a "petition" against the planned congestion charge - Middleton & North Manchester Guardian - "Just say no!"   Middleton & North Manchester Guardian - "Residents vow to fight the Toll Tax".

    "The shape of things to come"
    MEN - "Road toll in five years".

    31 January 2007 - Independence the establishment way
    Today's Manchester Evening News reveals who the "independent panel" are that will give their verdict on Manchester's Congestion Chrge plans. As expected they are establishment figures, including David Begg who was behind Edinburgh's toll plans - "Pay-to-drive 'fans' probe charging bid".
    Yesterday we issued this press release -
    ...... There is no justification for this toll tax plan. Drivers are already being treated as a cash cow. They pay about one billion pounds a week in taxes, and see little in return. Most of the congestion that does exist has been created by the authorities themselves, who have deliberately restricted the space available for vehicles. Vast amounts of money will be wasted on toll collection and administration. Charges will just move the congestion on to other roads, annoying drivers and residents and harming many businesses.
    The authorities say that one of their four tests before they proceed is that it must be acceptable to the public and to businesses. They say that there will be an "Independent Panel" to look at this plan. This panel will not be independent at all, as they will appoint the members. If the authorities really mean what they say, then there must be a "toll poll" as took place in Edinburgh. If they refuse to have a poll then it will prove that they know that they will fail.
    Some people may think that congestion charging does not matter, as the Government plans to have "road pricing" on all British roads anyway. That may be the intention, but in our view that plan is bound to fail, and Greater Manchester could face a situation where it is one of the few areas in Britain which has the economic noose of tolls round its neck.
    30 January 2007 - B and B
    George Osborne, MP for Tatton and Shadow Chancellor, says that the Government have bullied and bribed Greater Manchester to get congestion charging introduced - MEN - "MP slams 'bullying and bribing' pay-to-drive bid".
    PS Manchester was also in the news today with two big stories. One is that they have been awarded the right to have the only "super casino" in Britain. The other story is that they have scrapped the controversial proposal to have parking charges in the evenings and on Sundays - BBC. They say that the idea has been scrapped because people were opposed. What fantasy world are they living in, if they believe that there is not even more opposition to "congestion charging"?

    29 January 2007 - MP backs tolls
    The Manchester Evening News reports that at least one local MP is backing the plans for "congestion charging" - "MPs split on congestion charging".
    PS One business tells the papers - "Congestion charge is bad for business".

    27 January 2007 - What else would you expect?
    The Manchester Evening News reports that the council bosses who yesterday agreed to inflict congestion charging on the people of Greater Manchester all arrived by car, some of them chauffeur driven - "C-Charge: Bosses came by car". Best laugh of all is that the MEN got a quote from the RAC Foundation - they are one of the organisations that is trying to sell this idea for the Government.

    26 January 2007 - Chiefs agree to Charge
    Council leaders from around Greater Manchester met today and agreed to bring in tolls on most of the roads leading into Manchester city - BBC - "Councils back congestion charge"   Manchester Evening News - "C-Charge: The long road begins"   This is Lancashire.
    PS This is the report that they considered today   This is the map of roads to be charged as per Manchester Evening News website.

    25 January 2007 - More on Con
    From the Manchester Evening News - "Debate rages on road charges plan"   "Road charging: Your questions answered".

    24 January 2007 - Manchester Toll gets closer
    Greater Manchester is one of 10 areas that has received small amounts of money in return for saying that they will implement tolls. In most areas this seems to be just a device to get more money from the Government, but Greater Manchester is moving closer to really introducing tolls - BBC - "Congestion charge plan for city"   Manchester Evening News - "Up to £8 a day road charge due" (there is a link to comments at the bottom of the story). No doubt drivers will be happy to pay an extra £8 a day, particularly when they learn that about £5 of that is needed to cover the cost of collection and enforcement


    11 January 2005
    This one is a cracker for two reasons - MEN - "Brakes put on road toll plan". The first is that one of the leading architects of the tolls says that they would be damaging. The second is that this story is about 6 months before they applied to the Government for money to prepare a congestion charge plan.

    31 January 2003
    MEN - "Drivers face road toll countdown".

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