Opposition to congestion charging crumbles at Council meeting

July 24, 2008 12:00 AM

Leader of Rochdale Council Alan TaylorRochdale Labour Party's opposition to congestion charging for Greater Manchester took a serious hit at last night's full council meeting at Rochdale Town Hall (Wednesday 24 July).

Labour Councillors put forward a motion to reject proposals to set the outer ring for congestion charging as the M60 because it "would create an unjustifiably large congestion charge zone."

The motion wanted the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority to undertake further research and analysis on the TIF bid proposal in parallel with the public consultation.

However Labour's 14 Councillors were easily defeated by the 28 Liberal Democrat Councillors present, who were angered by Labour's motion that they believed would put the whole TIF process in jeopardy.

Council Leader Alan Taylor, who couldn't attend the vote because of ill-health, said: "I am pleased that Labour was humiliated as I am sick to death of them undermining significant transport investment for Greater Manchester. Their proposals just didn't make sense and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the whole TIF Bid process."

Acting Leader Councillor Irene Davidson said: "This motion was disappointing and I am afraid a complete dereliction of duty as it was poorly researched, poorly presented and poorly defended. The gulf between the local Labour Party and their colleagues in Greater Manchester is getting bigger by the day. They called for action from the GMPTA and the people responsible for the consultation are AGMA. This is a bit like asking Manchester City to set Rochdale Football Club's Season Ticket prices!"

The Conservative also had a spat with the Labour Party as Middleton Councillor Michael Holly accused the Labour Party of being 'wholly inconsistent.' He told the meeting: "The Conservative Group have been against Congestion Charging from day one. The Conservatives in Rochdale are the only party to have had a consistent line. We are against this and support a referendum only if the results are taken Borough-by-Borough"

Rochdale's Transport Spokesperson Councillor Zulfiqar Ali said after the meeting: "The night was hugely embarrassing for an embattled Labour Party. I don't agree with the Conservative's views on Congestion Charging, but at least they remain consistent. The Labour Party are fudging this and I welcome the fact our Borough is supporting a Greater Manchester-wide, binding referendum.

"We will be judging the benefits of the TIF Bid Township by Township and I am confident people will throw their weight behind this significant transport investment once they know the facts."