A London-style congestion charge in Manchester took another step closer today, after transport secretary Ruth Kelly gave the green-light in Parliament to a bid by local officials.
Plans for a two-ring scheme in Manchester as part of a Transport Innovation Fund, charging up to £5 at busy times from 2013 and running from approximately 7am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6.30pm on weekdays, will now enter consultation.
If introduced £3b of public transport improvements are promised by advocates of the scheme.
Unlike London, vehicles would only be charged only for journeys into Manchester centre during the morning rush-hour and going out during the afternoon peak traffic period.
The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce welcomed an end to months of uncertainty about the scheme but warned "the devil would be in the detail".
Angie Robinson, chief executive of the chamber said businesses in Manchester could now get on with debating the merits and problems of such a scheme.
"Businesses will welcome the prospect of a long over due cash injection, however some significant reservations have been expressed, in relation to the proposal implementation of a congestion charge, a key condition of accepting this money."
Last year lobby group the London Retail Consortium hit out at the London congestion zone extension, describing the scheme as "a blunt instrument based on outdated technology".
The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities have been leading the Manchester C-charge bid.
If successful half of the funding would come from the Department for Transport and the remaining amount from loans drawn against projected income from the scheme and local funding.
By Chris Druce
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