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6/9/2008
Second UK City to Adopt Congestion Tax
UK officials expected to announce Manchester will become the second UK city to impose a congestion tax.

Manchester
Manchester, UK is expected today to receive approval from Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government to impose a London-style congestion tax. By 2013, the city would have in place the complex tracking infrastructure required to charge commuters £5 (US $10) for driving into the city center during work hours. Brown's Labour government had offered the city £3 billion (US $6 billion) in taxpayer funds for mass transit in return for their agreement to implement the taxing scheme.

As the plan would cost the average commuter an extra £1250 (US $2500) per year on top of record fuel prices, opponents believe the move opens up significant political vulnerabilities for the Labour Party.

"It is beyond belief that Gordon Brown, already under massive pressure over the cost of fuel tax and unjustified extortionate increases in [vehicle registration taxes], should choose to make this announcement at this time," Association of British Drivers Chairman Brian Gregory said. It seems he does not wish to be Prime Minister much longer, and we have no doubt that the voters of Britain will be pleased to assist him in that desire."

Last month, opponents celebrated the decisive victory of Boris Johnson over congestion charge pioneer Ken Livingstone. Exit polling indicated that the congestion tax was the top issue for those who wished to unseat Livingstone as London's mayor. Other lower profile elections included the stunning defeat of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority Chairman Roger Jones, one of the leading voices in support of congestion charging. Jones came in third behind two anti-charge candidates who garnered a combined 71 percent of the vote. Opponents promised a "summer of discontent" for politicians who promote the congestion tax after refusing to put the question to the voters in a referendum.

"Transport Minister Ruth Kelly could well have to decide between approving the Manchester bid and keeping her Bolton West seat at the next election," read a statement issued last month by the group Manchester Against Road Tolls.

Last year, more than 1.8 million voters signed an official petition on the Prime Minister's website opposing the concept of road pricing.



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