Peel Holdings lobby businesses over congestion charging
Date published: 30 April 2008
Andrew Simpson, the Chairman of Greater Manchester Momentum Group (GMMG) and Group Managing Director of Peel Holdings has contacted businesses throughout the region seeking to persuade them that the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities’ (AGMA) current proposal for TIF funding, which if successful would bring with it congestion charging in Greater Manchester, would damage the regions long-term competitiveness and prosperity.
Mr Simpson says the imposition of the charge could could cost commuters up to £1,200 per year to drive to and from work and increase the cost of doing business dramatically for those who move goods, make deliveries or simply travel to meetings between 7am-9.30am and 4pm-6.30pm.
Public consultation on congestion charging in Greater Manchester could be launched as early as mid May and Mr Simpson is calling on business to provide a single, powerful voice in the debate about the best long-term transport strategy for the region.
He said: "In February we formed the Greater Manchester Momentum Group. Since I last wrote to you, the group has recruited more than 70 members of all sizes from almost every business sector, with recent recruits including: Rodgers the Florist, United Biscuits and Williams Motor Group. We share strong interest in the growth and development of our region and believe AGMA’s current proposal for TIF funding would damage its long-term competitiveness and prosperity.
"To recap, GMMG has nine main areas of concern:
- "Scale: The proposed scheme goes overnight from zero to one significantly larger than any other scheme in the world. Therefore it is untested and a significant risk.
- "Imbalance: The scheme will capture thousands of ordinary businesses and employees within the M60 but the expenditure on infrastructure for promised transport improvements is almost exclusively aimed at improving commuter journeys into Manchester city centre.
- "Ignores movement of goods: Business will pay significant road user charges yet all of the expenditure on infrastructure is on public transport to move people. None is directed at business distributing freight or moving goods.
- "A cost of employment: Unlike London the charging zone covers many ordinary jobs with people on average wages who cannot afford up to £100 per month. Inevitably employers will have to meet this cost or lose staff to firms outside the M60.
- "No way back: If the economic assumptions (which have been kept secret) are wrong, Greater Manchester will be saddled with c.£2bn of debt over 30 years which means there will be no way of reversing a damaging scheme.
One dimensional: The proposals assume that no measures other than charging can reduce congestion. There has been no work on other ways to tackle the issues.
- "Isolated: All political parties have distanced themselves from a national road pricing scheme which means Greater Manchester will become uniquely a more expensive place to do business and for staff to work, thereby damaging future jobs and investment.
- "No guarantees: There are no guarantees on future pricing, the zone covered, the time the charge applies or the actual public transport delivered. It has recently been announced that the London congestion charge will be increased to £25-a-day for some vehicles. In addition there is no guarantee that if a national scheme (e.g. motorway scheme) is introduced we will not end up paying twice.
- "Technology: No detail has been provided on the technology which will support the scheme and abundant experience suggests that large scale IT projects carry huge risks of failure.
"We continue to press for AGMA to share the details of its assumptions and economic assertions and allow employers the right to study, challenge and improve on its findings. We pledge to work with AGMA to look at alternative ways of tackling congestion and funding for an improved transport infrastructure, whilst also assessing best value for money for transport infrastructure improvements.
"As consultation approaches, I urge you to examine what the charge will mean both for your business and for your employees and engage with the debate.
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