Friday, 12 December 2008

Decision Day For Manchester

The future of road pricing is in the balance, with towns and cities across Britain awaiting the result of Manchester’s referendum tomorrow before deciding whether to press ahead with pay-as-you-drive schemes.

The level of response to the postal-only vote in areas of the city where congestion charging is unpopular, such as Trafford and Tameside, has alarmed supporters of the scheme.
I just bet it has….
A “no” vote would be highly embarrassing for the Government, which has created a £2 billion fund dedicated to supporting local charging schemes.

Cambridge, Bristol and Leeds are considering schemes but are unlikely to proceed if the result in Manchester, which is to be announced at midday tomorrow, is negative.
If they don’t get a ‘Yes’ vote, anyone want to bet when they’ll run this exercise again? Having first removed the inconvenient ‘majority’ clause, of course:
A simple majority in favour of charging may not be sufficient because the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester have agreed that the scheme will go ahead only if it is supported by a majority of voters in at least seven council areas.
Yeah, I bet that agreement is quietly dropped next time.
Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, was accused of trying to bully Manchester into accepting congestion charging by stating that it would not get a penny of the £1.5 billion if it voted no. “There is no Plan B. I would not want people to be under any illusion about that,” he said.
‘Nice little place you got here, Mancunians. Be a shame if something happened to it, eh..?’
The Yes campaign argues that only one person in ten would pay the charge. However, at least one driver would pay in a third of households.
Statistics – you can bend ‘em how you want, can’t you?
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, urged people to vote yes, saying they had a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Greater Manchester in the premier league for public transport”. Opponents of the scheme pointed out that Sir Alex lived in Cheshire and would not be voting.
Ah, yet another ‘celebrity’ who sees fit to tell others how they should live, knowing full well it won’t affect him…

Update: Manchester to Congestion Charge Enthusiasts:"No thanks". Let the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments commence!


Lorenzo said...

How come the country is full of sensible people like you yet the Government is full of mentally deficient thugs, how can that be representative of the population.

Letters From A Tory said...

Political Betting had the 'no' vote at over 90% on early reports, so this could be a spectacular humiliation.

Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the council should follow the example of the EU and hold new referenda if the voters give the wrong result.

Anonymous said...

" can that be representative of the population."

The only population Parliament now represents is the one I'd rather not be part of!

" this could be a spectacular humiliation."

Indeed - a majority 'No' in ALL the council areas... :)

"Perhaps the council should follow the example of the EU and hold new referenda if the voters give the wrong result."

I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough the BBC report doesn't give the margin of defeat, 79% to 21%. I guess it must be due to a shortage of space.

Anonymous said...

I think we can be confident that there'll either be a re-run of the vote after suitable changes either to the congestion charge or method of voting (ie a few more bribes and/or wholesale voting fraud) or, more likely, it'll go ahead anyway. After all the excreta behind these sorts of proposal never give up: for instance, the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) chairman Councillor Matt Colledge is quoted as saying that "We are committed to ensuring that this legacy is put to good use by working hard with central government to establish alternative ways to deliver these schemes [my bold], which remain critical to the future of our economy."


The BBC updated its report after your post to show the margin of defeat.

Anonymous said...

What Ross said first.