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Congestion charging schemes 'lack public support'


JUST 29% of motorists support city congestion charging projects 10 years on from the London scheme being introduced, according to an AA/Populus survey.

While 6% of AA members regard their support as "strong", 33% are strongly against, the poll showed.

Only 21% of the 22,827 AA members surveyed would support congestion charging in Manchester, where an attempt to bring in such a system failed at the end of 2008.

Even in London, where travellers enjoy an extensive public transport system, support for the city's congestion charge was patchy, with 45% for and 41% against.

The area where there was least support for a congestion charge scheme was Yorkshire and Humberside, with 22%.

East Midlands (23%), north-west England (24%) and Scotland (25%) were also areas where few backed such a scheme.

London aside, the areas where there was most support were East Anglia and Northern Ireland, both with 32% in favour.

AA president Edmund King said: "Some 10 years since congestion charging was introduced in the capital and four years on from the no vote in Manchester, drivers seem to have little appetite for a similar scheme in other cities any time soon.

"London is perhaps unique as 86% of commuters to central London used public transport even before congestion charging was introduced. In other cities a higher proportion tend to drive."

He went on: "London drivers have paid a heavy price for slower journeys over the last decade. Some have argued that without congestion charging the traffic speeds would have been even worse. However speeds in central London have remained fairly constant since the days of the horse and cart some 100 years ago.

"The charge hasn't improved traffic speeds but may have substituted some lower-income drivers for those that can afford it or have no choice. Towns and cities looking to boost their local economies should be looking to improved parking, park-and-ride, better traffic management and improved public transport."

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