Transport Sec Ruth Kelly backs £5-a-day charge for the cityLondon’s new mayor, Boris Johnson may have pledged to scrap the £25 a day congestion charge planned for high-CO2 vehicles later this year. But other cities remain in the firing line for pay-as-you-enter penalties.

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly believes that the introduction of a £5 daily charge could push Manchester nearer its goal of becoming a ‘world-class’ city. Miss Kelly, who is also MP for nearby Bolton West, said: ‘I know that there is serious congestion (in the city) at the moment. But pitch yourself forward five, 10 years and we can imagine the roads snarling up and jobs not coming to this city and other growing cities.’

Her comments sparked surprised responses from some quarters, because it is widely thought that support for the congestion charges costs Passenger Transport Authority chairman Roger Jones his seat on Salford Council earlier this month.

But she dismissed suggestions that her stance could prove an electoral liability. ‘I campaigned in Bolton West this month and not one person on the doorsteps raised it as an issue.’

However, Manchester MP Graham Stringer has dismissed the idea of a congestion charge as ‘bonkers’. He spoke out earlier this month during a Transport bill debate. He accused the Government of wanting to use Manchester as an experiment.

The 10 local councils that together cover Manchester and its suburbs have jointly submitted a bid to introduce a congestion charge, if the Government gives them £3bn to spend on public transport. But the bid has provoked rows and three councils – Trafford, Bury and Stockport – have since withdrawn.

Stephen Jury


May 27, 2008

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