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Accusations of blackmail over new congestion charges

MPs on the Transport Select Committee last week accused the government of blackmailing local authorities into adopting congestion charge plans.
The accusations coincided with Manchester unveiling its plans for congestion charging in the city. Speaking at a meeting about the Department for Transport's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), a £200M pot of cash to be awarded to authorities for congestion busting projects, former leader of Manchester City Council and MP for Blackley Graham Stringer said: 'Local Authorities were told to come with a congestion charging scheme or not bother.'His comments were aimed at transport minister Steven Ladyman. Ladyman denied that this was the case and claimed that local authorities were willing participants, and could drop out at any time.But other parties including British Chamber of Commerce director general David Frost and Centre for Cities director Dermot Finch, agreed with MPs that TIF funding should be called the congestion charge incentive fund. Frost said that urban congestion charging was forced on local authorities. 'If this goes wrong, it is not central government that will take a hit - it will be the local authorities,' he said.

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