Top firm does a U-turn on congestion charge

Date published: 10 March 2008

One of the world’s best-known firms has written to every Rochdale councillor to disassociate itself from business opponents to Greater Manchester’s congestion charge plans.

Deloitte - one of the “big four” international accountants - was trumpeted as one of several high-profile members of a group of businesses which had pledged to campaign against the congestion charge plans.

But now, in a blow to Trafford Centre owners Peel Holdings, which is leading the group, Deloitte says: “The public association of our name with that organisation has not been agreed.”

And in the letter to more than 600 councillors in Greater Manchester, senior partner David Harker makes it clear: “Deloitte is not opposed to such schemes and we are proud to have been the delivery partner for congestion schemes implemented in the UK and around the world.”

In fact, the firm — which employs 600 staff in new offices in Spinningfields, Manchester — worked on the London congestion charge scheme an d claims it “a success story” in one of its own publications.

Mr Harker’s letter adds: “We are currently in discussion with GMMG to ensure that further communication from the group does not include or infer any association with Deloitte.”

Government officials are due to rule any time on whether to give Greater Manchester £1.2bn from its Transport Innovation Fund and allow it to borrow another £1.8bn to fund public transport improvements through congestion charging.

Household names like Kellogg’s, Harvey Nichols, and Makro have allied themselves with Peel to campaign against the road pricing plans.

Deloitte’s split follows a letter from Peel managing director Andrew Simpson last week to all of Greater Manchester’s 645 local councillors, claiming their right to decide is about to be taken away.

It claimed that new arrangements for making decisions which affect all 10 districts would railroad local councils into accepting road pricing.

The leaders of the TIF bid were furious and Councillor Roger Jones, chairman of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, could not hide his delight at the fallout.

“Peel has been misrepresenting the situation for months,” he said.

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