Apathy. Scepticism. Ignorance. With a very poor turnout - less than 50 per cent in any borough - even less in Manchester, the winner of this expensive and energy sapping exercise is looking like a "No" vote, but on a very low turnout. In Stockport the votes received add up to 89,432 so far, from an electorate of 216,973. A turnout so far of 41.2% is above the regional average of 38.2%.
David Ottewell is good on his blog here:
The three are mutually re-enforcing. Scepticism leads to ignorance and apathy (people who don't trust the system don't find out what's going on, or don't care). Ignorance leads to scepticism and apathy (people who don't understand the system don't trust the system, and so don't care). Apathy leads to scepticism and ignorance (if you don't care, you don't bother to learn or trust).
I have maintained all along that this plan has been doomed from the moment it went to a ballot. People are confused by the mixed messages about a plan, based on a deal, hinged on trust. They don't get it. The words I've heard which nail this thing are: "Well they say that now" about any aspect of the train service improvements, the rate of the congestion charge, the time of it, the place where it is levied. Everything you care to mention. The trigger to introduce road charging will be when 80% of public transport improvements are in place. Within that figure is 100% of all bus improvements. The easy stuff. So that means, as little as 60% of train and tram improvements.
Cryptically, Stockport Council believe there are more twists and turns to come.
After residents’ votes are counted, Leaders of the ten councils in Greater Manchester will meet on December 19 to discuss the next stage of transport changes for Greater Manchester.
I can't help but think that the AGMA leaders (SHB, in reality) will go to the Transport Secretary and say, hey Geoff, we tried. We put our reputations on the line, we thought long and hard about this, we campaigned like mad, we did everything. Come on, let us have some of the money. The public won't buy road charging if you ask them. Not in this climate. Come on Geoff, what do you reckon?