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Could Manchester give the green light to the congestion charge?

Greater Manchester’s new Elected Mayor is being urged to reconsider introducing a congestion charge in the city.


Think-tank Centre for Cities has reignited the controversial issue, suggesting that the road tax would be a ‘quick win’ to help manage traffic, cut pollution and pay for better transport links to outer boroughs.


In 2008 voters rejected the congestion charge following a referendum, but with city centre traffic steadily increasing, it could be back on the agenda for the region’s decision makers.


The congestion charge in central London, which was introduced in 2003, is £10 a day, 7am – 8pm, Monday to Friday. Yet with regular 24-hour buses and an expansive underground system, commuters are well served by the city’s public transport system.


Like London, Manchester is heavily populated with people living within the city centre boundaries, making it a bustling hive of activity even in the evenings – something since moving here seven years ago, I have always loved.  


A congestion charge would certainly have implications for those who live in Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas. On top of high council tax, this would be another monthly charge, which many can ill afford.


The charge could potentially have a direct effect on property prices in the city, which could lose value if demand were to fall. Then there are those who come into the city to enjoy the restaurants, bars, theatres and shops Manchester has to offer. In order to avoid additional charges, it is possible these shoppers would opt for out of town shopping centres as an alternative – driving footfall out of town.


Manchester is a hugely accessible place to work – by adding a congestion charge we could be discouraging skilled and talented job hunters from taking positions in the city centre. It would be down to the employer to decide if the increase in living costs due to the congestion charge was reflected in wages, which could be a considerable cost to a company. This may also mean businesses in Manchester could choose to relocate out of town, which could have an impact on the city’s economic infrastructure.


The congestion charge would undoubtedly make Manchester a less appealing place to work and live – potentially detrimental for a city growing so rapidly. With public transport already at capacity, would Manchester’s infrastructure cope with the additional commuters?


Surely this needs to be considered first and foremost before implementing a tax that will prevent a lot of people from living and working in our great city.




Tagged with: , Debate, Manchester, North West

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HS2: Manchester to London in just over 60 minutes – what do we think?

Last week, the second phase of the North West and Yorkshire HS2 route was revealed. Once complete in 2033, the £56 billion project will see the rail journey time between Manchester and London cut from 127 minutes to 67 minutes.


Since the HS2 project was first announced, it has received both criticism and support from politicians, businesses, environmental groups and the public.

So what do some members of the Refresh PR team think?

Laura Mashiter: “I welcome the new HS2 route. We need to connect the north with the south more and it will open up further exciting opportunities for businesses in and around Manchester. While it’s great that the links between Manchester and London will be improved, we also need to make sure that links between the north improve to make sure the Northern Powerhouse is as strong and successful as it can be. In this year’s budget, a number of infrastructure announcements were made including HS3, a new road tunnel from Manchester to Sheffield, and completion of a four-lane M62 – and I really hope to see these and more improvements started in the very near future.”

Erin Heywood: “At Refresh we regularly travel between Manchester and London to meet clients, suppliers and partners, as well as attend events, and I personally think two hours for this journey is absolutely fine. To improve the Manchester to London journey, it would be great if some of the peak trains could be more affordable and to make the Wi-Fi more reliable so we could use the time effectively to catch up on work. £56 billion seems a lot of money to improve something that a lot of people wouldn’t really consider a problem in the first place. I think the money being invested in this project could be put to better use in helping the UK economy – in particular healthcare and the NHS.”

Maya Powell: “I think the shorter journey time between London and Manchester will be a good thing for the UK. It will help London be less disconnected with the north and blur the north-south divide. As a recent graduate who has a lot of friends looking for work, I think it’s great that the HS2 railway will help to boost employment opportunities for those in the north who don’t want to move away from home or live in the capital where the cost of living is so much higher. We might also see more London-based companies moving to other parts of the country. I think generally the HS2 will help to rebalance the UK economy and open up employment opportunities, which is a good thing in my eyes.”

Claire Gamble: “On one hand, I think it’s great that we’re investing in a faster, more efficient rail infrastructure which is bound to open up more opportunities for businesses and individuals. However, it’s a huge sum of money to spend on saving an hour on a trip which isn’t that bad in the first place – and this money could be used to improve the wider rail network around the UK. Another potential issue we may see as a result of HS2 is house prices rising in Manchester, as it would become more feasible for people to live further out of the capital but still commute. While it’s an exciting opportunity to be able to work and commute more easily between two major cities, rising costs would be bad news for lots of families in and around Manchester. We’ve already seen prices rise considerably in areas such as Chorlton and Didsbury as more people are moving up from London for jobs in Media City, for example, and this trend could well continue in other parts of the city.”

Laura Holden: “I’m worried the HS2 project will see train fares rise in general all over the UK. As well as paying a premium for the Yorkshire or North West route to and from London, it could result in costs rising for local rail journeys too.  There are a lot of people whose homes and/or businesses will be impacted as a result of the HS2 route and I hope they’ll be reimbursed fairly for the upheaval. Overall, I’d prefer to see the money invested in helping education and the NHS.”

Christy Milmine: “I think HS2 will be good for Manchester. It won’t just open up the north to London, but to the rest of the world too – we’ll have easier access to the Eurostar and the London airports with lots more direct flights than what we currently have access to. It could also lead to a property boom in Manchester and the north as more people could move here from all over the country for the better transport links and infrastructure. I think that’s great if you’ve already bought property in or around Manchester but if you’re trying to get on the property ladder it could become even more of a struggle.”

What do you think of the HS2 high speed rail link? We’d love to hear your opinion!



Tagged with: Construction, Debate, HS2, Lifestyle, Manchester, North West