THE GOVERNMENT has confirmed that only the first few local authorities to introduce congestion charging and work place parking levies will keep all the revenue for transport schemes.
Councillors and officials had hoped that all authorities would be guaranteed 100% of the jam-busting charges for investment in public transport alternatives to the car.
But speaking at NCE's integrated transport conference on Thursday, transport minister John Reid made it clear that only the authorities chosen to run the six to eight pilot charging schemes will be assured of keeping all the money.
A spokeswoman for the Treasury confirmed: 'Hypothecation is not a mechanism which is suitable for every single issue. Each case should be looked at on its own merits.'
The Government will invite local authorities to bid for pilot charging schemes in the spring. Six to eight will be chosen - three or four each to run road user charging and workplace parking levy projects.
The Government line won backing from campaign group Transport 2000. Taxation campaigner Phil Parker said: 'There is quite good logic behind reducing the amount of revenue hypothecated. It would only encourage councils to build wasteful and environmentally damaging road schemes.'
But local authority officials reacted angrily. County Surveyors' Society president Mike Moore claimed that the Government is in danger of creating 'a set of rules which apply only to the major urban areas'.
'If you look at the major conurbations it might be the case that they will raise large amounts of money, but most of us will struggle to raise any money at all.
'My view is that 100% of the money should be hypothecated for all authorities, and not just for the first 10 years,' he said.