Tory plans put town centre Metrolink in jeopardy

Date published: 30 September 2008

Plans to bring the Metrolink into Rochdale town centre could go up in smoke if the Conservatives get into power. The Tories have pledged to break the link between the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) and congestion charging but this could mean that Greater Manchester would have to bid for funds all over again under a Conservative government.

The current Government has made congestion charging condition of receiving money from the fund for £3 billion of public transport improvements to Greater Manchester.

But Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers told the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham: “No more using the Transport Innovation Fund to bully our towns and cities into congestion charging.

“Instead, we’d free up that funding for innovative local solutions on issues like buses and cycling which have so much potential to provide alternatives to the car.”

Ms Villiers would not commit the Tories to the £1.5billion currently on offer for public transport improvements from the Labour Government and that, depending on the result of next month’s referendum, the region may have to bid for TIF funds alongside other authorities if the Conservatives were in power.

Commenting, Rochdale MP Paul Rowen said: "The Conservatives locally have been resolutely against the TIF Bid from the very start. If it was up to them we wouldn't see Metrolink in our Town Centre or the huge improvements to our trains and buses. From the start of the Transport Innovation Fund discussions the Government has made it clear that we must consider some sort of Congestion Charging scheme to pay for some of the transport improvement, the rest is from a Government grant of over £1 billion.

"The net result of breaking the link between TIF and any peak-only Congestion Charge would be to scatter the money across the UK. Most of the money that has been ring-fenched for transport would then end up in Boris Johnson's hands in London."

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