MP maintains anti-congestion charge stance

Date published: 11 November 2008

Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin is maintaining his stance against the Transport Innovation Fund proposals despite cries from the chairman of the Yes Campaign Lis Phelan to win him over.

The MP still believes that there is very little on offer in the TIF bid for his constituents after he was contacted by Ms Phelan and asked if he would reconsider his decision to oppose the plans for transport improvements and the Manchester congestion charge.

Mr Dobbin said: "No explanation has been offered as to how my constituents would be eligible for cheaper fares and [there has been] no exposition of how this cheaper fares plan will work. Both Heywood and Middleton have huge transport problems and I see no indication that these will be resolved.

My position remains the same, I am against the introduction of a congestion charge that offers nothing to my constituents. The question that is being asked does not contain the words Congestion Charge and I think this is misleading the public.

"A recent survey by Populus found that one in three Rochdale households will pay the congestion charge."

Lis Phelan wrote to the Heywood and Middleton MP urging him to reverse his position on the proposals in the light of changes following the public consultation.

Since Mr Dobbin announced his opposition there have been changes to the original proposals with cheaper fares for people on the minimum wage travelling to work and the consideration of commuter stations announced for Heywood and Slattocks.

Ms Phelan wrote: “Since you announced your opposition, there have been several changes to the package that will bring real benefits to low paid workers in your constituency and I sincerely hope that these improvements will lead to you reconsidering your position.

“The final package, to be put to the vote in December, now includes reduced ticket prices for workers on the minimum wage and capped fares for all bus users. This and the wealth of other transport improvements will benefit every public transport user in Greater Manchester.

“I hope you will reconsider your opposition to this unprecedented opportunity for improvements to Greater Manchester’s public transport and support the interests of the majority of people in your constituency, particularly those on low incomes.”

Councillor Alan Taylor, Leader of Rochdale Council said: “What we have shown is that in support of these proposals – we are able to use our position to negotiate for a better deal for both Heywood and Middleton. Mr Dobbin has consistently opposed the bid – claiming that Heywood and Middleton would ‘get nothing’. Now, even after the £25,000,000 link from Heywood to Manchester, via Castleton has been agreed, even after the feasibility study to open a station at Slattocks has been announced and with the cleaner, safer and more frequent buses and all the other benefits – he is still opposing it claiming his constituents get ‘nothing’.

"It’s ironic that Mr Dobbin has voted ‘Yes’ to the expensive Crossrail in London and ‘No’ to the biggest transport investment ever in this Borough. He should be ashamed that he has let his blind opposition get in the way.

“I am sick to death of him continually opposing this exciting package for his Constituents – he is throwing away the chance of a lifetime. Mr Dobbin claims he has no details of the benefits of lower bus fares for his lowest paid constituents. This is untrue; he just has to read the final package that would inform him that the reduced ticket prices applies to his Constituents on the minimum wage and bus fares capped for everybody else.”

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