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Leeds plans C-charge

Leeds has become the latest city to bid for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) cash.

Transports secretary Ruth Kelly revealed last week that the city council was actively exploring a congestion charge scheme backed by TIF funding.

Leeds will join Manchester – which has already submitted its £1.5bn TIF bid – Cambridge and Bristol, which are expected to submit theirs in the next 12 months.

Reading Council also signalled its intention to submit a formal bid for TIF cash in the next two years.

News of Reading’s plans emerged after Kelly’s announcement on the future of UK roads spending revealed that the townwas receiving "pump priming" cash of more than £2M to study congestion charging along with Leeds, Cambridgeshire and Bristol.

Leeds City Council leader Richard Brett said that Leeds was now considering a congestion charge because it "could not afford to ignore the opportunity" of hundreds of millions of pounds of TIF funding.

"The funding available through TIF is substantial and could ultimately result in several billion pounds of investment in our transport infrastructure, so we cannot aff ord to ignore the
opportunity," said Brett.

"Our work to date indicates that without significant funding to enhance the transport system, the major routes into Leeds will remain congested. This means there is a serious risk that economic growth here will be suppressed."

Other local authority funding announced as part of Kelly’s confirmation of the £6bn roads package last week includes a Congestion Performance Fund of up to £60M over four years to reward local authorities which are "on track" to deliver and beat their congestion targets.

Another £8M has been made available for local authority Asset Management Plans (AMPs) which enable councils to keep a close eye on the condition of their highways and on which improvements are a priority. This will add to the £15M made available for AMPs in January.

"It’s further good news recognising the benefits of AMPs but we need more clarity about how local authorities access this money as we are still not clear about how the money is going to be divided up," said CSS engineering committee chairman Matthew Lugg.

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