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Number 10 defends road pricing poll

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DOWNING STREET was this week forced to defend its decision to post a road pricing questionnaire on its website after more than 1M people used it to vote against congestion charging.

The anti-road pricing response is thought to have been fuelled by pressure groups and campaigns by The Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio 2.

This week the prime minister's official spokesman was forced into defending the decision to post the petition on the Number 10 website.

'We had always recognised that there was a lively debate around transport as it was an issue that directly affected people's lives, ' the spokesman told Monday morning's press brieng.

'But the debate in itself would not produce a solution. The crucial point about this issue was that doing nothing was not an option. Congestion would get worse if we did nothing.

Therefore this was a debate that we needed to have.' The spokesman added that the plan was not to immediately go ahead with a national pricing scheme but to establish regional pilots, initially in Manchester and Birmingham, 'to nd out the facts, to learn from these experiences and then decide where we go'.

Manchester and Birmingham are trying to secure Transport Innovation Fund cash to nance tram extensions in the cities. It is understood that to win this they must implement congestion charging trials.

The petition on 10 Downing Street's website has 1.3M signatures. Every signatory will receive an email setting out the government's position when the petition closes on Tuesday.

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