Transport (Greater Manchester)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 9th June 2008.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley PPS (Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC (Minister for Women)), Leader of the House of Commons 3:32 pm, 9th June 2008

I have grave concerns about the proposed imposition of congestion charging, because it would be very difficult for my constituents to switch to public transport, given how things stand. We have had severe cutbacks in our bus services, and my right hon. Friend has even visited a station that I have campaigned to have improved. We will not benefit from an extension of Metrolink either. So the position is dire—I have campaigned a lot on it—and it will not improve quickly. My constituents will be concerned to ensure that they have a proper say, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will give me an assurance today that everyone who wants to do so can have a say on these proposals.

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Alex Allen
Posted on 10 Jun 2008 9:37 am (Report this annotation)

I am pleased that my MP is expressing the concerns felt by her constituency - Public transport into manchester from this area is far from ideal as it is limited to a rather poor bus service (the metrolink as far as Leigh would be a significant improvement). Even the addition of a more regular, express bus service would be a vast improvement. To suggest congestion charging without serious and widespread improvement to this situation would simply be a tax with no benefit, which would further degrade the public opinion of local (mainly labour) MPs.
I look forward to the Greater Manchester consultation on the congestion charge.

Chris Cooper
Posted on 10 Jun 2008 10:54 am (Report this annotation)

I'm very pleased that our MP is voicing our concerns on this matter. I'm very sceptical about any consultation, because it appears that the decision to go ahead has already been given. We want consultation on whether it should proceed.....not how it should proceed.

For example, I live in Little Hulton and I don't see how the CC will benefit us? A Metrolink extension is a non-starter because the roads and infrastructure won't take it. The main road through Little Hulton, Walkden and Swinton (A6) is a single lane each way with housing and businesses on either side. I don't see any scope for widening this road and having bus lanes etc. If I had to sit on a bus for 40 minutes on the A6, before I reach the East Lancs Road, then how am I benefitting?

In the past few years, I've been on bus services from Manchester that ignore passengers at stops in Central Manchester because they are running late. I've had a two-carriage train stop at Walkden station just to tell us there is no room, and this was during rush hour.....a two-carriage train? Public transport has been poor for a long time, but has actually got worse in the last few years. If these private companies can't be forced to run effective services now, how are we going to force them after a CC has been implemented?

A councillor has already lost his position over this matter in the local elections, which shows the strength of feeling against what they see as another tax being forced onto them. The government (both local and central) has done a very poor job on the consultation side so far, and they have a long road ahead of them to persuade the people of Manchester that this will benefit them.

Thanks again to Barbara for raising our concerns in parliament and continuing to push this!

Chris Rivers
Posted on 13 Jun 2008 8:59 am (Report this annotation)

There are severe public transport servicing deficiencies in the Astley area and before any car congestion charging scheme is implemented there would need to be huge improvements. From here the nearest rail stops are Walkden and Atherton. Not easy to get to by bus. Over the last five years there has been an unreliable rail service with few coaches, trains that do not arrive at all and when they do they are often dirty, overcrowded and of poor quality and comfort. The newly refurbished Salford Central train station sprang huge leaks through its roof in a downpour last month soon after a grand opening - where did all the (public) money go? - clearly not on quality control.

Bus services are even less reliable locally. Privately run and profit taking public transport has been a disaster that old and new Labour has failed to tackle. A Guided Busway scheme has been mooted for over a decade that would pass through Astley and utilise part of the linear walkway and make it safer for users - I still have the ageing leaflets about the plans. Maybe this would help? Meanwhile it is unsurprising that so many rely on private transport.

In principle a City Congestion Zone sounds laudable but in practice it will mean a huge waste of scarce public money. In addition it is a puzzle to me why it should start at the wide M60 ring rather than the inner city one around the Mancunian Way. An M60 congestion zone will tend to steer employment opportunities in this area towards Bolton, Warrington and Merseyside.