The Wevoteyes website has a page . It 8 facts listed, but no fictions. That is strange, but, in the interests of clarifying the debate, let us have a look some of the facts. If I get any of this wrong, please comment and I will clarify in the interests of obtaining an accurate picture of the proposals.
“9 out of 10 people won’t pay the congestion charge when it starts in 2013.”
This should be clarified. It is the people in Greater Manchester who will not pay the charge (so excludes people who live outside the county but work in the centre). As minors or adults without a driving licence are also people, it includes them, but this is misleading. A more relevant figure is the families who have at least one regular peak-time driver. Or, to be political, the proportion of registered voters who will pay the charge.
“10 out of 10 will get a radically improved transport system across Greater Manchester.”
This is true. But the biggest and most expensive benefit – the metrolink – is localized to less than half the population. The most general benefit of more bus routes and more frequent services, is dependent on the usage. If they are not viable then they will be withdrawn by the bus operators.
“This will only happen if you vote YES.”
Again this is true. The package will be withdrawn. However, would the government cancel the biggest benefit – the metrolink, when they are trying to spend their way out of recession? Or, like the European Constitution, will it reappear in a modified form, or piecemeal by the back door? It may be better for Manchester if the plan is sent back to the drawing board, so that a more objective and balanced appraisal can be carried out. Please see the previous posting.
“Is designed to only hit traffic hotspots”
Using two peak time rings is an ineffective way of doing this. Some of the peak times are not dealt with, such as the afternoon school run (except for a few yellow buses). Some of the congestion in Greater Manchester is not touched, such as the Motorways, or outside the A6. Many of the worst places are at junctions, which will not be included. Also there is considerable seasonal variation. Car usage is higher in the winter, on cold wet days than in the summer. If there is a charge, this could exacerbate the variation as people try to reduce their costs. In other words, fact is just about the intentions, not about the outcome.
‘There’s no Plan B. If we vote NO in December the money goes back to Government, all £3 billion of it.’
This is mostly a more dogmatic re-statement. Also, it is a false statement, as the total investment is less than £2.8bn, including £313m for the congestion charge investment. The central government is only providing, £1.5bn of this, £1.2bn is to be funded by the congestion charge and £100m is from other sources. The full £2.8bn includes contingencies, so will only be “achieved” if there is an overspend.
Anyway, the full and permanent withdrawal of the £1.5bn funding may not occur. The Prime Minister, in a response to a question tabled by Manchester Withington MP John Leech, said “If Greater Manchester came back with a revised proposition, we would need to assess it on its merits.”This is quoted from the Crains Business Manchester website
The “wevoteyes” “fact vs fiction” can be viewed at the useful wayback machine site http://web.archive.org/web/20081219082443/http://www.wevoteyes.co.uk/factvsfiction.aspx