The government has tried to force through the controversial Manchester congestion charge by threatening to withhold £1.5 billion of funding from the city if the system is not implemented.
Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, said central government would not make investments to improve trams, trains and buses in Manchester unless its population voted ‘yes’ to the congestion charge in a referendum next month. “There is no Plan B,” Hoon told The Times. “If the vote is ‘no’ there will be no central government funding. The rules are very clear.”
Fellow Labour MP Graham Stringer - who represents Manchester Blackley - accused Mr Hoon of “bullying” the charge through. “It shows how worried they are about losing,” said Blackley.
Many of Manchester’s residents are opposed to the scheme, which would require motorists to pay up to £5 a day to enter the city.
Cars would be fitted with a tag and beacon system in what is being seen as a smaller-scale trial for national road tolling.
Hoon also announced that this government would be increasing financial incentives for any city that looked to introduce road pricing.
Cambridge, Bristol and Leeds are all known to be considering schemes in a bid to secure central government funding.