TRANSPORT chiefs have hailed a multi-million pound consultation over plans to introduce a congestion charge in Greater Manchester a success.

More than double the number of people expected gave their views on the charge and the accompanying £3 billion in public transport improvements, they said. The consultation ended yesterday.

A spokesman said: “We expected 40,000 responses from households in Greater Manchester, but have received more than 100,000, so people have obviously wanted to talk about this issue.”

Pollsters MORI are compiling the feedback and the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, which decides transport policy in the region, will put the revised proposals to the Association of Greater Manchester Councils later this month. If AGMA approves the plans they will be put to a public referendum in December. For the plans to succeed at least seven out of the 10 AGMA councils must support them.

Bolton Council’s ruling Labour administration has vowed to vote in line with the majority of the people in the borough.

Bolton Council’s representative on the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, Cllr Norman Critchley, said: “The consultation has been done the wrong way round. How are they going to get the changes from the feedback into the public realm in time for the vote?”

If the plans are approved, Greater Manchester would get a government grant of £1.5 billion along with a loan of £1.2 billion.

Proceeds from two charging rings — within the M60 and Manchester city centre’s inner ring road — at peak times on weekdays would repay the loan.

As part of the deal, Bolton has been promised extra money to fund a £25 million bus and rail interchange in the town centre as well as improvements to train and bus services.

For more on this story see Saturday's edition of the paper.