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Councils seek more cash for investment


LOCAL AUTHORITIES this week renewed calls for Government to fund public transport improvements before congestion and workplace charging schemes are brought on stream.

Councillor Albert Boar of Birmingham City Council led the latest demand for cash at the first meeting between Transport Minister Lord MacDonald and local authorities to discuss proposed charging options.

Birmingham is seeking £400M in upfront funding for improvements to its infrastructure which include an extension to the West Midlands Metro. Boar specifically called for local authorities to be given power to borrow more money to allow investment to made immediately.

Nottingham City Council's Transport Committee chair Ian MacLennan also confirmed that Nottingham would push ahead with plans despite a recent survey by the Nottingham Chamber of Commerce which found that only 7% of businesses were in favour of the levy and only 17% thought it would reduce congestion.

However, a DETR source told NCE that any local authority with plans to use congestion charges could expect extra funding in the near future.

'By the time they submit their five year local transport plans, we will have had the 2000 Budget and we will know if the fuel duty is to rise above inflation,' he said. 'It may be that this is the solution or at least part of the solution.'

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