Barbara led a debate on Tuesday 1st July at Westminster on the Congestion Charging proposals for Greater Manchester. Barbara opened the debate and five other Labour MPs, one Liberal Democrat and one Conservative MP from Greater Manchester all spoke in the debate.
Speaking in the debate Barbara said:
“The bid for funding from the Transport Innovation Fund and the linked proposals for congestion charge are key concerns for my constituents in Worsley. From the outset I have said that I want my constituents to have their say on these proposals. .. my concern about Greater Manchester’s bid is that my constituents would not benefit from better public transport yet they would end up paying congestion charges, both on journeys into Manchester and on local journeys in Salford and surrounding areas.”
In her speech Barbara detailed the problems which her Worsley constituents have with the current public transport provided by privatised companies. She wnet on to say that the improvements in the transport bid would be very limited. The Leigh Guided busway was not funded in the current proposals and was an unpopular development idea for many people in Worsley. She detailed how bus services had been cut back over the last two years and said that all the issues with public transport had caused many local people to switch from bus to car journeys. Barbara said she did not believe that public transport in Worsley could be improved enough to offer public transport as an alternative to the car,
Barbara and many of the other MPs present in the debate criticised the proposed AGMA/GMPTE consultation on the transport and charging proposals.
“A consultation which consists mainly of one leaflet per household, a website and a visit from a roving exhibition bus is not up to the important task of consulting my constituents over important proposals like these. One quarter of the budget for the consultation is to be spent on advertisement but I have already received angry emails about bias in the advertising campaign.”
Responding to Barbara’s debate, Transport Minister agreed that it was “important that there is widespread and through consultation” and she added “robust consultation is critical”. The Minister also said that local authorities in Greater Manchester should find their own solution on how best to consult but that consultation with local people, businesses, transport operators and others “should be wide”.
“The Transport Minister made clear that any consultation across Greater Manchester on the congestion charging proposals should be widespread, thorough and robust. I hope that her comments and those that I and other MPs made will help to improve the consultation as I am determined that my constituents are well informed and get the chance to have their say on this important issue."