Thousands back Tory petition against ‘crippling congestion tax plans’

Thousands of people in Greater Manchester have signed a petition against plans by the Labour mayor which could cripple small businesses across the whole of Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham’s plans for a ‘clean air zone’ would cover all 493 square miles of Greater Manchester, in every city, town and village across the area.

Laura Evans, the Conservative’s mayoral candidate launched a petition against the plans, which she said would affect small businesses, the self-employed and hit jobs hard. Since being set up last month, more than 2,000 residents have now signed it asking the mayor to think again. Laura also has the backing of Greater Manchester’s Conservative MPs, who are worried that the proposals would hit the self-employed and the most vulnerable the hardest in the pocket.

She said: “Thousands of concerned residents have signed the petition to send a clear message to the Mayor of Greater Manchester. That shows the strength of feeling against these plans. 

“I want to protect our environment and reduce congestion, but introducing a crippling charge is not the way forward.

“These plans will just put an extra tax on drivers which could hit jobs hard, including small businesses and the self-employed. Right when we need to give people confidence, secure jobs and get people back into work.”

Rather than a ‘congestion tax’, Laura would lobby for a better scrappage scheme to help people switch to low emission vehicles.

She would also look at new traffic measures to help ease the most congested roads and a green reward scheme to incentivise businesses to become more eco-friendly. There would also be a push for councils to lead by example, moving them on to low emission vehicles.

She said: “The government has committed £41m to support Greater Manchester businesses, sole traders and the voluntary sector to help upgrade to cleaner commercial vehicles ahead of a clean air zone.

“My plan would build on that getting councils to lead from the front, tackling problem junctions to ease congestion in the worst areas, and a green reward scheme. I would also look to roll out electric charging points for vehicles and to incentivise businesses to move to cleaner vehicles.

“The Mayor’s plan will drive businesses out of Greater Manchester to areas where they are not going to be made to pay a daily charge, leading to a loss of local jobs for local people. 

“I would urge people not to let this slip though and find yourself waking up to a 493 square mile tax from your front door. Everyone who uses a vehicle should sign my petition to send a strong message to the Mayor, that we can’t afford an extra tax.”

Backing Laura’s petition, Christian Wakeford, the Conservative MP for Bury South said: “Right when we need to be building back better following Coronavirus the Labour Mayor Andy Burnham is planning to impose a crippling new tax affecting almost every business in Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich. That’s why I’m supporting Laura Evans and this petition to oppose the Mayor’s Congestion Tax plan.”

Bury North MP, James Daly added: “At a time when we should be doing everything to support our local businesses, these proposals by Andy Burnham will hit them hard in the pocket. We need to look at ways to protect the environment, but not at the detriment to small firms and taxi drivers who would ending up suffering if these plans were put in place.”