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die belebende Bedenkung

Complete and atter nonsense

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In 2008, local authorities in Greater Manchester attempted to scaremonger citizens into voting for a road congestion charge (C-charge). Without it, congestion ‘could not be tackled’ and there would be ‘no money’ for improving public transport, such as expanding the tram system.

Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese was one of the main advocates of the C-charge, and its architect was Lewis Atter, now better known for his involvement in the derided HS2 ‘Regional Economic Impacts’ report.

[‘Manchester congestion charge: myth and reality’, By Lewis Atter, BBC News website, 30 June 2008]

[…] We calculated that effective public transport would create more than 200,000 jobs in Manchester by 2021, whereas failing to relieve congestion would reduce this number by 30,000 because some workers – and eventually jobs – would go somewhere else.

We therefore concluded that in order to realise Manchester’s growth potential the city’s transport infrastructure would need to be modernised.

As part of this process the city would need to significantly reduce congestion. Manchester would need a modern tram system, faster commuter trains and above all fewer cars.

In short, the city would need massive investments into its transport system.

The next question was how to finance such a large infrastructure project.

It was obvious that the UK government would not have all the money to pay for such a large scale project.

However, in 2004 it had created the Transport Innovation Fund.

The fund promises support to innovative transport ideas designed to relieve congestion in urban areas. And it requires a commitment to reduce congestion.

So we came up with the following plan. Manchester would apply for a big chunk of money out of the government’s Transport Innovation Fund and would ask to borrow the rest of the capital against its future congestion charging revenues.

The Yes campaign’s Dan Hodges said, “This is not a referendum on `Do you want a congestion charge?’. It is a referendum on `Do you want better buses, better trains and a Metrolink that goes where you want?’.”

On 12 December 2008, an overwhelming majority in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs voted against Mr Atter’s scheme (people based in Cheshire and Lancashire weren’t even asked). However, the scaremongering from the ‘Yes’ campaign continued, even after the result had become clear.

[‘Voters reject congestion charge’, BBC News, 12 December 2008]

Lis Phelan, ‘chair’ of the Yes Campaign, told the BBC Greater Manchester was now not “going to get the transport improvements that the region really needs”.

Mancunians saw through the threats, and lo and behold, citywide public transport improvements are now well underway (e.g. big bang Metrolink and the ‘Northern Hub’). Similar misrepresentation and alarmism are at the heart of this year’s HS2 advocacy. Once again, Sir Richard Leese and Lewis Atter are involved, and once again, the public haven’t been fooled.

Even in the (effectively zero-probability) event of ’14 years of disruption at weekends’, upgrading existing trackage was the preferred option for 40% of the public, compared to only 27% who wanted HS2 to be built as planned, YouGov reported on 30 October 2013. (A further 19% expressed the opinion that there was no need to uplift capacity on existing lines, or build HS2.)

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Written by beleben

December 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

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