At noon today at the Manchester Central conference centre, returning officer Sir Neil McIntosh announced that the majority of voters had voted against the introduction of the congestion charge. Across the 10 regions of Greater Manchester, 1.94 million ballot packs have been sent out over the last 2 weeks. By 10pm last night 1,030,000 residents (53.2% of the electorate) turned out to vote. The scheme needed at least 7 boroughs to vote in favour of the scheme for it go-ahead, but as the following breakdown suggests (see the Middleton Guardian), this didn’t happen:
The Times suggests that voters were not persuaded by the £1.5 billion Government funding for public transport, despite the fact that it would have created 10,000 extra jobs due to the construction of new tram lines and improved trains and buses. Many questioned the timing of the referendum, which would have seen drivers paying £5 a day (up to £1,200 a year) to get in and out of Manchester (here is a map of the proposed outer and inner rings), due to the current economic climate and the belief that building more roads is not financially possible or environmentally acceptable.
It appears that the vote was decided by whether you drove into Manchester, or took public transport into Manchester. Those who take public transport are more likely to vote in favour of additional public transport, as it would be more beneficial to them and across a year they wouldn’t pay as much as drivers. However, those who drive into Manchester would vote against it, as they would inevitably have to pay up to £5 a day just to go to work, a possible £1,200 a year, which for someone with a basic salary could be quite a financial burden. Similarly, those travelling from the most furthest out boroughs in Greater Manchester would prefer to drive over public transport, as it is a lot quicker.