Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The congestion charging thing

So, the councils of Manchester decided to bid for the Transport Innovation Fund afterall, which will necessitate the introduction of congestion charging. They did so despite the outright opposition of Trafford and Stockport councils and without winning the hearts of minds of the public, or of the business community.

If there is a need for better public transport in Manchester, then there is a case for it to be funded. Indeed, there is a commitment to do just that. It is deplorable that Manchester's councils should have been blackmailed in this way, worse still that they were complicit in it, unforgivable that the public debate on the subject was conducted with such bad grace and included such muddy promises and luke warm assurances of future transport plans.

Central government does not have the will or the stomach to introduce road charging. Instead, they are sneaking it through the back door by allowing local politicians to sell it on a false premise. The really depressing thing about this is the only other council group bidding is Cambridgeshire.

I've read the bid guidance. A link is here. But I'll point you towards one crucial, though vaguely worded line in the bid guidance.

“A first small scheme might be implemented around 2010/11 and a larger scheme following a couple of years later.”

Who do you think will win the bid? And who do you think will be left high and dry wondering what all that aggro was for, when a rerun of the sorry saga is started all over again?

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