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Manchester in minority over road charging plan

Government plans to encourage local authorities to launch road charging schemes had mixed fortunes this week with Manchester pushing ahead but the West Midlands pulling out.

Manchester published the latest details of its £3bn Transport Innovation Fund bid with plans to close Oxford Road to traffic and run an "eco-tram" along the 1km stretch which is a key gateway into Manchester city centre.

The road, currently clogged with buses, would get a low-carbon bus/tram in the centre of the road while the rest of the carriageway would be closed to all but essential traffic.

A total of 10 local authorities received initial funding to submit bids to the Transport Innovation Fund, but only Manchester and Cambridge have confirmed plans for road charging schemes that will make them eligible for the cash.

The scheme would be funded from Manchester's TIF allocation that is expected to be announced by the Department for Transport within weeks.

The chances of success in Manchester have risen after leaders of the seven local authorities in the West Midlands agreed not to develop road pricing in Greater Birmingham because of fears that the city’s competitiveness might be hit.

In Manchester, business leaders are supporting the latest plans. "There needs to be a lot of consultation, but in principle we are supportive,"
said Manchester Chamber’s policy director Chris Fletcher.

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