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Questions over transport plan.

Byline: Neil Elkes Political Correspondent neil.elkes@trinitymirror.com

BIRMINGHAM'S 20-year plan for transport could create congestion rather than solve it, opposition Tory councillors warned.

They also called on the Labour-run council not to introduce a city centre congestion charge without first holding a referendum.

The criticism came as the authority's Cabinet officially launched public consultation over the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan.

It is the vision for transport in the city which includes a network of Sprint rapid transit buses in a bid to slash congestion on the city's streets. Tory deputy leader Coun Robert Alden said the policy was a collection of existing transport ideas mixed with new one on rapid transit lines.

"We are talking about 200,000 extra cars on the roads, but the plan says we want to reduce dual carriageways to a single lane for the Sprint," he said. "It talks about turning the city centre tunnels into a through road, with no getting in and out in the city centre. But that would create congestion at St Chad's junction.

"And we are talking about turning the No 11 outer circle route into a rapid transit line.

"The point of rapid transit lines is they have few stops, whereas the No 11 stops everywhere - there is a contradiction."

Coun Alden (Erdington) said Conservatives would fight the suggestion a congestion charge could be introduced before a referendum was held.

Consultants have advised the council that the experience of other cities showed people generally opposed them before they were introduced, but supported them afterwards.

Liberal Democrat leader Coun Paul Tilsley (Sheldon) called for the M6 to be included in considerations, saying a motorway accident could cause major congestion in the city.

He suggested the Government should do a deal with M6 Toll operators to open it to all traffic during rush-hour accidents.

Labour cabinet member for transport Tahir Ali (Nechells) said the Plan was an "aspirational" document and constructive feedback was sought before a finalised version was developed next year.

"We are talking about 200,000 extra cars on the roads, but the plan says we want to reduce dual carriageways to a single lane for the Sprint. Coun Robert Alden

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Coun Robert Alden
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 21, 2013
Words:369
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