Manchester rejects congestion charge

Plans for congestion charge zone and huge expansion in public transport to be scrapped

In a significant blow for green transport campaigners, residents of Greater Manchester have voted against the proposed introduction of a congestion charge for the city.

Polls had shown that the referendum was on a knife edge, but a majority of voters in each of the region's 10 boroughs voted to reject the plans.

Green campaigners said they were disappointed by a turn out of just 53.2 per cent.

The result represents a major blow to Manchester's transport policy and means it will have to scrap a planned application for investment from the government's central Transport Innovation Fund.

Manchester is the fourth most congested city in Europe and the £2.8bn plan was intended to tackle the problem by charging motorists for crossing two charging rings at peak times. The outer ring would have roughly followed the M60 orbital motorway, while the inner ring would surround Manchester city centre.

The revenue raised would also have contributed to an overhaul of local public transport infrastructure, including an extension of the city's tram network, more bus routes and train stations, and better support for cycling and walking.

Business leaders had been divided on the proposals with some arguing it would represent an extra tax on motorists and would deliver a blow to the local economy, while others maintained that the investment in public transport and reduction in congestion would make the city more competitive.

The vote is the second significant blow for green transport campaigners in recent weeks, after London Mayor Boris Johnson announced he was to scrap the western zone of the city's congestion charge following opposition from residents.

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