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Manchester road charge plans revealed

Members of the public in Greater Manchester are being asked their opinion about controversial plans to introduce road pricing to the city.Proposals to launch a £3 billion wave of investment in the city's transport infrastructure include a congestion charge scheme similar to that currently in place in London.Under the plans motorists would be charged £1 or £2 when they pass through intermediate and outer 'rings' surrounding the city in peak periods. A day trip to the city centre and back would cost £5, although discounts are available for vulnerable groups.Football matches, shopping trips and other popular leisure activities including bar and restaurant dining would be exempted from the charge, which would only apply to peak times in the week."If we fail to address road congestion, Greater Manchester could miss out on 30,000 jobs over the next 15 years," Lord Peter Smith, leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (Agma), commented."Doing nothing is not an option. Agma wants action to tackle congestion, pollution and to manage the 'carbon footprint' and air quality of the Greater Manchester area."We are working with the Department for Transport to secure significant improvements in public transport and greater influence over the bus network, local rail and the strategic highways network."The government has made clear its commitment to road charging as a long-term solution for Britain's increasingly congested roads. Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said in one of his first speeches in office that he considered road pricing "a personal priority" which could be introduced nationally by 2016. Under the spending plans outlined for Manchester's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) the funds would see a "public transport revolution" in "the biggest and most far-reaching transport investment programme outside London".Observers say if the pilot scheme is implemented it will pave the way for wider implementation of road charging schemes across the UK.

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