Safeguard to prevent C-charge is welcomed

First published in News

A “SAFEGUARD” against Labour leaders forcing through a Greater Manchester congestion charge has been welcomed by a local transport chief.

As part of the move to create a Greater Manchester “super council”, a new body, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), will be established to be responsible for transport across the region.

Under the current system, all decisions relating to transport strategy can be taken having gained a “simple majority” among the 10 Greater Manchester authorities.

But, after an intervention by Coalition Government ministers Nigel Baker and Bob Neill, the body’s constitution is expected to say that “for any decision on road user charging to be approved” a unanimous decision of 10-0 will be needed.

Lib Dem Cllr David Wilkinson, one of Bolton’s representatives on the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, welcomed the change.

He said: “I think this is a very good safeguard against Labour leaders and nonelected civil servants within some councils trying to force a congestion charge upon Greater Manchester.”

In December 2008, residents voted against a peak-time congestion charge, which the Government demanded in return for £3 billion of transport investment in the region.

Cllr Wilkinson said: “If it hadn’t been for the Lib Dem effort locally, where we got a motion passed forcing a referendum in Bolton, then it would have been forced through. This move stops that from happening, even if the leaders of those boroughs with the most to gain tried again.”

Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton’s Labour representative on the GMITA, said: “If they want to put something in place then so be it. The idea of a congestion charge in Greater Manchester is a dead duck. We had a democratic vote and the people of Greater Manchester voted against the idea. As an elected member I have to accept that and I am happy to do so. I don’t think it will be coming up again.”

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority will come into being on April 1.

TfGM is expected to move forward a transport strategy for the entire region.

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