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Government expects towns to reject congestion charging

A SENIOR government transport official last week confirmed that many British towns were unlikely to introduce widespread congestion charging as a way of controlling traffic growth.

The head of the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR) congestion charging programme last week told the Interchange transport conference that that it would only be right to charge motorists to drive into towns and cities in a few areas.

'I suspect we will never see congestion charging schemes all over the country. There are many places where it is not the right solution, ' DETR congestion charging implementation team head Mike Goodwin told delegates.

Earlier, Commission for Integrated Transport chairman David Begg had urged the Government to take a stronger lead and put forward the case for congestion charging.

But Goodwin said the Government was not looking beyond schemes in London, Bristol and Leeds, and smaller short term congestion permit schemes for a road near a shopping centre in Durham, and in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire.

These smaller schemes are expected to be launched this year.

It was confirmed that local authorities planning congestion and workplace parking charges would not need to have all their transport improvements finished before a scheme was launched.

'The Secretary of State will take a view about how well local authorities have achieved the objectives and whether that links with the objectives set out in the local transport plan and whether local people and businesses have been consulted, ' said Goodwin.

DETR guidance on congestion and workplace charging was expected to be published in 'two to three months', he added.

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