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Bristol and Bath to bid for TIF

Bristol City Council yesterday confirmed it is to submit a joint bid with three other local authorities, including Bath, for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) money to ease congestion in the two cities.

The news was confirmed by the leader of Bristol City Council (BCC) Helen Holland at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Bristol will join forces with Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire to secure funds.

Holland told NCE that the government had already awarded Bristol City Council £2M to upgrade a previous study, "Our Future transport", published in 2007, to a full bid, to be submitted some time in 2009.

The bid would be for up to £1.4bn in government money to improve public transport, and BCC to impose a congestion charging scheme.

Holland said that Bristol had the worst urban congestion in Britain outside London.

"£350M is lost every year due to congestion, and the average speed is down to 16 mph," she added.

She said that the Bristol scheme had learned from the failure of a proposed congestion charging scheme in Edinburgh.

"We have taken our neighbours with us, The Edinburgh scheme had neighbours as objectors," said Holland.

"So far we have been able to convince business that charging is the best for the economy. Our next step is to move businesses from supporting the idea in principle to supporting the detail."

Meanwhile in Manchester, the chief executive of the Manchester chamber of commerce, Angie Robinson, confirmed that the planned referendum is too close to call, and was critical of the way benefits of the scheme have been communicated to the electorate.

"We need to boil down the bid to key facts for each region [of Greater Manchester], so people can see the benefits," she said.

"The business community does understand that there is not enough money in the system [to make public transport improvements in the TIF application] as it stands," she said.

"The business community will always be divided, but businesses need the full choice."

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said that the £3bn in TIF money was essential to give "Greater Manchester the world class transport system it needs".

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