A conference in London between Greater Manchester Transport officials and MPs was held this week, with the intention of resurrecting the region’s bid for £2.75bn transport funding. The conference aimed to create a ‘Plan B’ for the region’s bid, following an overwhelming majority vote of ‘no’ in the congestion charge referendum in December, where over 1 million from the region voted. Greater Manchester had originally been promised £3bn of investment in public transport, on the basis that there was a majority vote in favour of the congestion charge.
Details of the new proposals have not yet emerged, but it has been suggested that the new plan would not involve any sort of congestion charge. Graham Stringer, MP for Manchester Blackley, who was present at the conference, believes that the meeting was successful, “I would be surprised if we didn’t get something”. Matt Colledge, chairman of GMPTA (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority), believes that the “unusually high turnout at the meeting” and high levels of determination and enthusiasm shown by the attendees towards the cause put’s the bid in a good position. Bolton South East MP Dr Brian Iddon believes that the region has a strong case for the funds, despite the referendum setback, as GMPTE already had, “detailed plans that pre-date the failed Transport Innovation Fund bid”.
Consequently, further meetings will be held in the near future and a report by Manchester council chief executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, will be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon, in support of this bid to secure funds. Geoff Hoon himself has already taken action towards solving the city’s congestion problems by announcing a scheme to widen the M60 motorway.