EDINBURGH rejected it. London has it. So what has Bolton and the rest of Greater Manchester made of a congestion charge planned for the region?

Tomorrow, the region will find out when the results of the transport referendum are revealed.

Almost two million ballot papers have been sent out and latest figures show that just over one in three people have voted, including at least 75,000 in Bolton.

The proposals, which will see £2.7 billion invested in public transport improvements in return for two peaktime charging rings around the M60 and Manchester, have sparked a bitter war of words between lobbyists on both sides.

As part of the deal, Bolton would get £9 million towards a £25 million bus-rail interchange already planned for the town centre, enabling a more ambitious version to be built in 2010 rather than in 2012.

The Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) cash would also pay for a new rapid bus service between Bolton and Manchester, more frequent buses to Bury, Rochdale and Wigan, and improvements at train stations throughout the borough.

The Yes campaign estimates that only one out of ten people will ever pay the charge because it will only apply on weekdays in the direction of rush-hour traffic.

They argue that it’s the only way to cut the congestion that is damaging the region’s economy and secure a once-in-a-lifetime lump sum from the Government which will improve the trains, buses and trams for everyone.

On the flip side, the No’ campaigners argue the charge will damage Greater Manchester’s economy by heaping costs on businesses and their customers, ultimately driving them away.

The lobby group claims many motorists will have no choice but to cross both rings to get to work and could fork out up to £1,200 a year.

They have described the congestion charge as a stealth tax and say the Government should stump up the £1.5 billion it is offering anyway— the remaining money is a loan, which is to be paid back by profits from the charge — with no strings attached.

Both sides claim the low turnout figures for the all-postal ballot referendum, which range from just 32 per cent in Manchester to 45 per cent in Trafford with Bolton at 35 per cent, add weight to their argument.

Pro-congestion charge groups say their own polls suggest healthy support for the scheme and are expecting a late surge in voting.

The anti-charge lobby says the low turnout proves that people are hostile to the charge and suspicious of the promised investment.

The proposed scheme has split local politicians too.

Two of Bolton’s MPs, Ruth Kelly and Brian Iddon, support it, while their Labour colleague David Crausby, is against it.

At Bolton Town Hall, the current Labour administration and the opposition Lib-Dem group are in favour while the Tories have led calls for a No vote.

A recent web poll by The Bolton News showed that 82 per cent of our readers shared the Conservative’s view.

The overall result will be decided by how each of the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities vote.For a Yes, at least seven councils must vote in favour.

Bolton Council has promised to be bound by how the borough’s public vote. Other councils have followed suit, although none of the ten authorities have to do so by law.

The outcome of Bolton’s poll is likely to be the first announced as the results are expected to come through alphabetically.

The majority of postal ballots are being counted electronically by the Electoral Reform Service in London.

Any ballots completed today, Thursday, must be dropped off by voters in person at the One Stop Shop at Bolton Town Hall before 10pm. They will be added to the count in Manchester on Friday.