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Car alternative key to charging - Chamber; TRANSPORT.

Byline: ALUN THORNE

The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has claimed that congestion charging would not work in Birmingham without a viable alternative to the car after a study suggested it could save businesses millions of pounds.

The CBI and Freight Transport Association said it broadly supported introducing charges but insisted that any new charges should be aimed at cutting congestion rather than simply raising extra tax revenue.

John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, said: "This research furthers our understanding of congestion charging and shows that it can benefit business but only if it is applied intelligently.

"Reducing congestion isn't just about cutting pollution and improving our quality of life - it is also about improving the economy. But it must be applied in the right way if it is to benefit business and receive widespread support, otherwise it will simply backfire." James Hookham, FTA policy director, added: "Government reluctance to invest in sufficient road capacity and UK transport infrastructure means that sooner or later an alternative to managing the road network through traffic queues has got to be found. If road pricing is the answer it must be applied in the right ways." However, John Lamb, spokesman for " Reducing congestion isn't just about cutting pollution JOHN CRIDLAND the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said the issue was a controversial one for its members.

He said: "We asked our members about this issue of congestion charging some time ago and they were split down the middle. When we have done further research on the issue there was a general feeling that charging in Birmingham would in fact do more harm than good.

"The big issue for our members is that we haven't got a viable alternative to the car in Birmingham. If we are serious about this in Birmingham then something like the metro would have to be developed and the bus service significantly improved. If the congestion charge works in London it is because it has the tube as well as an effective bus service." In recent years the Chamber had been focusing on 'Quick Wins', such as improving the staggering of some traffic lights, and it is calling on government to allow left-hand turns at red traffic lights to improve the flow of traffic.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said; "Our priority now and over the next decade is on tackling congestion where it is experienced most - in our cities and on our motorways. We are supporting local authorities who are considering tackling congestion by significantly improving public transport alongside a local congestion charging scheme - but any decisions on the detail of those schemes are for local authorities.

On our motorways we are introducing innovative measures like hardshoulder running."" Reducing congestion isn't just about cutting pollution JOHN CRIDLAND

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Birmingham Chamber says congestion charging would not work in the city without an alternative to the car
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 11, 2009
Words:478
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