Damian James' Blog: 29 October 2008 - Sssh, don't mention the 'C-charge'
29 October 2008
Damian James is Head of Transport Provision for Bracknell Forest Council and a technology champion
According to the BBC the draft wording for the referendum on the Manchester congestion charge has been released this week.
As we wait for the 31 October and the draft wording to be approved or not it appears that the words 'congestion charging' are not mentioned.
The question awaiting discussion by Council Leaders on the 31st is 'Do you agree with the Transport Innovation Fund proposals?'
I have to say that it is a lot less leading than the 2005 Edinburgh referendum question, which was as follows: "The leaflet enclosed with this ballot paper gives information on the Council's transport proposals for Edinburgh. The Council's preferred strategy includes congestion charging and increased transport investment funded by it. Do you support the Council's preferred strategy?"
I have previously stated that any congestion charging scheme that is put to a public referendum in order to decide if the project goes ahead or not will fail. I still stand by this statement. If then, as I have predicted the Manchester congestion charging zone fails to be successful it will jeopardise the £3,000,000,000 transport innovation fund, which could also be used to vastly improve public transport in the area.
So to my thinking there must be a smarter way to a) solve our congestion problems and b) if charging remains as an option, selling the concept to the public so they are in favour rather than them automatically raising the drawbridge as soon as the dreaded 'C-charge' is mentioned.
Of course, if I knew the answer to that conundrum I would be a very rich man indeed, but a common sense approach based on sound research and a proper debate have always helped me!