All this talk about congestion charges/charging who pays what to whom and where and when? The political football that this issue has become needs kicking into touch. I've said it before and I'll repeat it here - Manchester is nowhere near ready for congestion charging. Let's get it right! Congestion charging isn't just another tax on the poor little hard pressed driver. 1) It is a detterent - You might as well put up a sign that says: CLOSED FOR BUSINESS! 2) If Peter drives into the city to work and Paul takes the bus, isn't congestion charging just another way of robbing Peter to pay Paul? 3) The Metrolink needs a re-think, Fifty million pounds per mile to construct is way too much. In the early 1970's Manchester rejected the Picc-Vic Underground Railway (Piccadilly station to Victoria station) because the five million pound quote was deemed too much. 4) What happens to all the money anyway? It certainly doesn't physically cost fifty million pounds to construct a mile of tram track. In fact if you give me a million pounds I'll get a couple of the lads out of the pub and we'll do the first mile for you!
PRAWN SANDWICH SYNDROME
No matter what you say or do as an unknown individual, you'll most likely find that anything you do say or do, will be disregarded or at best treated as a hill of beans. Roy Keane, on the other hand, as a well known international footballer (and captain of Manchester Uni-ted, at the time) came up with his famous prawn sandwich quote. I mention it here and credit the new Sunderland manager with the thought behind it because it pretty much sums up what is happening in Manchester today. Take the International Festival we've been having in the city the past couple of weeks - great if you can afford tickets to the events - but don't worry if you can't - 'cos the prawn sandwich brigade can! Sounds a bit like all this nonsense about congestion charging, doesn't it? Don't worry if you can't find an extra fiver or so a day to pay the tolltax from your minimum wage job - 'Cos the prawn sandwich mob will pay that much and more gladly, to drive on a clear street!
CONGESTION CON CANNY
We took Jack and his friend and Jessica (Nic's helper) to Alton Towers at the weekend. It was saturday and everybody was prepared for rain but the tickets were booked and at that price (moaning about money again!) there was no going back. As it turned out the weather was wonderful and everybody actually got a little sunburned. Anyway, if you're driving from Manchester, it's a pain of a place to get to, it's not very far - less than an hours drive - but once you get past Leek the roads get a bit thin and guess what? Congested with coaches, cars and mini-busses! Sounds like a certain local council's view of the Manchester rush hour, only this is rural Staffordshire, although quaint, it ain't! So, you drive forty-five minutes out of the uncongested city, clear a couple of towns - Macclesfield and Leek - no traffic on the A roads - everythings fine - then, just as the sun starts to shine and you're just six miles from your BIG day out - You hit traffic, slow moving coaches, cars and mini-busses packed with excited children stuck behind a blooming red-deisel guzzeling TRACTOR! Not the farmers fault, he's just going about his business of making hay while the sun shines - you can't blame him, can you?
So, six miles up the road and another forty-five minutes later you arrive at the main gates to Alton Towers, only to be confronted by another traffic jam, and you guessed it, A congestion charge. The first thing you see is the notice that reads: car park £4.00 and the massive queue of vehicles waiting to get in it. But they're canny these experienced congestion conners, they know that parents are tearing their hair out, in the fronts of exited kid packed cars, they know that nobody likes queues, and that desperate people (and prawn sandwich types) will do (pay) almost anything to beat the system. So, what do the clever theme park operators do? (Manchester, take note!) They make a queue busting filter lane to a priority car park and charge you £10.00 how's that for a canny con?
MOVE IT TO MANCHESTER
Here's a little two-in-one idea for you. I've mentioned Pomona, part of the former Manchester docks on the ship canal before. The area is mostly in Trafford borough, some of it is in the city of Manchester, and the north bank of the canal is in the city of Salford, so politically it is a hot potato. The problem is, it is a post industrial dump and nobody seems to be interested in developing the site. I have heard rumours about some kind of waterfront style city park and also a year or so ago now, I read that three or four residential towers, in the manner of a ships sails, were to be built on Pomona Strand, but we're still waiting! Well, here's my idea - build your city park + and an amusement park with all the latest rides - it's in an ideal place, transport wise, as so many railway routes already run through the area and there are the overhead metrolink stations at Cornbrook and Pomona. Why should the good people of Greater Manchester have to travel to congested Staffordshire or up to Blackpool to ride a roller coaster? Do the green thing and move it to Manchester!!!