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Restaurants relaxed over Manchester Congestion charge plan

28 January 2005 by

Manchester restaurateurs appear pretty relaxed over the prospect of it following the example of London and introducing a congestion charge for traffic coming into the city.

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Association is looking at the possibility of levying a congestion charge just as Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced in the capital.

It plans to carry out a survey looking at how such a scheme, which currently costs £5 for London, would operate and what its effects would be.

Business think-tank the Forum of Private Business has warned such a charge would be "commercial suicide" and businesses would not be "bullied" into backing such a scheme.

But city-centre restaurants approached by Caterer-online said a charge would be unlikely to make a great deal of difference to their trade, and might even help business if it made the city a nicer place to visit.

Rod Francis, owner at the 45-cover Howards Le Bouche, said that if people needed to come in, they still would, whether by car or some other form of transport.

"A lot of the people come in by taxi or walk anyway. It will obviously affect some people, but I cannot really think it will change things that much," he said.

Stuart Murrell, duty manager at the 150-seat Waterhouse restaurant said the vast majority of its trade was shoppers and pedestrians anyway.

"How they get here is immaterial. If Manchester becomes a more pleasant place for people to wander around we may even get more passing trade," he added.

"It is rare that people drive in. They want to be able to have a drink or a glass of wine and then head home," she added.

by Nic Paton

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