Friday, December 12, 2008

Manchester says no to the con charge.

Enter Davina McCall:

The votes have been counted, verified and indepedently checked and I can reveal the next person to leave is.....

(Stupidly long pause)

The congestion charge!

To explain the formal process... the way the voting worked is that Manchester was split into 10 districts.  The result for each district was announced.  For the TIF proposal to carry, 7 of the 10 districts had to return a yes vote.  A yes vote would mean the proposal would be sent to the government for their consideration.  As was made clear at the Labour conference, even if it was submitted there was no guarantee it would actually happen.

EVERY SINGLE district returned a No.  And not just any no, but by a massive majority of approximately 20% for and 80% against in every district.

This referendum was being watched the world over as it is the first time this kind of proposal had been put to a public vote in the world.  A few reporters even dared declare the concept of congestion charging dead in the water.

So what are the implications?

1) Businesses can continue to locate themselves in central manchester and be able to attract the best talent.  With the charge these people would have moved offices, or got jobs away from the city centre.  I think it makes the city centre far more attractive.

2) Our leaders will have to look somewhere else to pay for the maintenance of our transport system, a large amount of which is essential and must be completed.  How they can charge such high fares for our trains and trams and not be self financing is beyond me?

3) My favourite politician - Gordon Brown - now has a bloody nose.  Westminster now know that they cannot blackmail local authorities into congestion charging in return for essential public transport funding.

4) As for congestion, the charge was only designed to change the time people travelled, not to reduce traffic in the city centre - as such pollution would not have changed if the charge was introduced, and will not change now it has been axed.

I will be raising a glass to our councillors for giving us the chance to have our say!  And Gordon no trying anything devious to sneak this in through a back door like you usually do - just give us the cash for our transport!


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