Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twin Blows for Congestion Charge Plans: But Three Ways to Tax Cambridge

"Cambridge residents’ could face a triple-whammy of taxes if the congestion charge bid goes ahead,” said Richard Normington, the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Cambridge.

Two pieces of news today further undermine the campaign for a Cambridge Congestion Charge; but also raise concerns if the Charge is pushed through.

The first is the report from the Manchester Evening News. Congestion has fallen there over the last year to the point that the city qualifies for a £1 million government bonus in funding. This is the city where the congestion charge lobby used both the bribe of extra funding with blood curdling threats of what would happen if voters ignored them. The voters, by a huge margin, threw out the proposal and were proved right.

The second is a report from today’s Financial Times that councils face a £6 billion shortfall in the funds they thought they would get from developers. Why is this a problem? The congestion charge bid requires at 10% contribution from the local authority. Here, the Congestion Charge Commissioner’s website is misleading because it does not even hint that the county will have come up with some funds itself. With the house building market in the deep freeze, there is little likelihood of the money the council anticipated when the officers drew up the congestion charge bid at the height of the property boom.

Richard added: “First we’d have a congestion charge, next we’d have the privilege of paying for its construction from our council tax bills; and, if the traffic forecasts are wrong, as Manchester shows, we’d have to pay a subsidy to keep it running year-in and year-out.”

He concluded,

“We need investment in transport. We do not need Labour’s compulsory congestion charge.”

24th February 2009




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