The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has highlighted plans to hit some commercial vehicles with a £10 congestion charge – double that paid by car drivers. FPB claims that varying rates of congestion charging are causing confusion and unrest in Manchester and there are clear lessons to be learnt for other authorities that may consider introducing similar systems.
FPB believes that the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) will charge up to £10 a day for the drivers of some commercial vehicles to cross the two charging rings and enter the city centre – more than small businesses had originally expected.
The FPB believes that the congestion charge would be a disproportionate tax that most small firms would struggle to pay. In addition, the FPB is alarmed that, although Hackney cabs will be exempt, other vehicles, such as private hire taxis, could be hit.
"It’s absolutely disgraceful," said FPB member Tony Price of Yellow Cabs, Chorley. "We’re both providing a public service, so I don’t see why Hackney cabs are being let off yet private hire vehicles will still be charged."
Mr Price added: "Any extra charge would have to be added to the customer’s bill." The FPB believes that, with fuel prices still surging, this extra tax is unwelcome and further exemptions should be guaranteed for all small businesses.
According to AGMA, surveys suggest that hauliers will actually save money through the congestion charge. The FPB, which has been unable to obtain the results of the survey, is questioning how this translates in practice.
The FPB is calling on the owners of small businesses who would be affected by the congestion charge to sign its petition at www.fpb.org/manchestercongestion.
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Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
Forum of Private Business