Manchester considering charging polluting drivers, Bath exploring Mini Holland

Cities follow others including Birmingham and York in looking to restrict motor traffic

Manchester City Council is to consider introducing an ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ), similar to that introduced in London, as well as possibly banning through traffic from the city centre. The news follows other cities such as Birmingham drawing up plans to restrict traffic in a bid to tackle the climate emergency, while Bath has announced that it is to introduce a ‘Mini Holland’.

Investigating the feasibility of setting up an ULEZ within the area bounded by the Manchester/Salford inner ring road was proposed to the city council this week by councillors Jon-Connor Lyons and Marcus Johns, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The initiative, aimed at reducing emissions and congestion and improving air quality, received the unanimous backing of councillors from the Labour, which controls the council, and opposition Liberal Democrats.

While detailed proposals are yet to be developed, Councillor Johns highlighted that the ULEZ introduced in London, which sees drivers of older, more polluted vehicles charged £12.50 per day to enter the zone, had resulted in nitrogen oxide emissions falling by a third since it came into force.

“This is also being explored in cities like York, Bristol, Oxford and Birmingham,” he added.

The city is one of the 10 metropolitan boroughs that together make up Greater Manchester, which has drawn up its own proposals to introduce charging for the most-polluting lorries, buses and taxis, but not private cars.

Being based on emissions, the motion put forward by the councillors is distinct from a blanket congestion charge, something that was rejected by Greater Manchester voters in a 2008 referendum.

The congestion charge had been proposed as part of the city-region’s bid for a share of £3 billion in government funding for transport.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat councillors who control Bath and North East Somerset Council are looking at following the example of the London Borough of Waltham Forest and its hugely successful Mini Holland scheme.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, who led the project and had to overcome some small but vocal opposition to the scheme, spoke to Bath councillors at the city’s Guildhall earlier this week, reports Somerset Live.

“This is pushing the boundaries. We’re turning the debate on its head. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Greens all campaigned against mini-Holland, and even some of my own Labour colleagues.

“If I believed all that we would’ve been wiped out. My majority went through the roof. If you believe the angry trolls then you’re doomed.”

Councillor Loakes said that many people’s attitudes had changed once the project had been completed, resulting in safer streets, better air quality and increased trade for local businesses.

“Now people say they wouldn’t go back to how things were,” he explained.

“There’s no rat running. The people driving through are just the people who live there. There’s no speeding.”

Dine Romero, the leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “This has been a real call to arms.

“We need to work together. We need you to add your voices in support. Our vision is to create a connected city for the future.”

News that Manchester and Bath are both exploring ways to restrict motor vehicle traffic comes at the end of a month in which other cities have unveiled their own plans, with Birmingham planning to ban people from driving across the city centre, and York looking to ban private cars altogether from the area bounded by its medieval walls.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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