MP asks Prime Minister to scrap c-charge referendum

Date published: 22 October 2008

Blackley MP Graham Stringer has hit out at the proposed congestion charge for Greater Manchester and asked the Prime Minister to cancel next month's referendum on the scheme.

Mr Stringer told Gordon Brown during Prime Minister's questions that he disagreed with the wording of the referendum question, which was published this week, saying it was biased, and asked that the referendum be called off.

Mr Stringer asked of the Prime Minister: "Wouldn't it be better Prime Minister, given the current economic circumstances, if this unnecessary congestion charge is cancelled, and the divisive referendum is cancelled and we brought forward the investment in the tram system in Greater Manchester to an early date?"

Mr Brown said that the question had been approved legally and that was the only stipulation required to carry it forward.

Members of the campaign to vote 'yes' in the referendum have criticised Mr Stringer's actions in PMQs.

Rochdale's MP Paul Rowen said: "I am surprised at Mr Stringer’s attempts to stop any referendum. It is vital that the people of Greater Manchester have their say on this crucial issue.

"Mr Stringer obviously has a different opinion on this bid than me and many of his Parliamentary Colleagues. What he should be doing is putting forward a cohesive argument instead of merely asking for this to be scrapped. What is he frightened of?”

The regional campaign to vote 'yes' have echoed those sentiments.

A spokesman said: "It’s clear that the opponents of the transport investment proposals have given up any hope of convincing the people of Greater Manchester of their arguments, and are instead attempting to sabotage the referendum. It is bizarre that having demanded a vote on the proposals they are now spinning around trying to prevent the voters having their say on this vital issue."

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