Labour group opposes congestion charge

Radical proposals to introduce congestion charging in Norwich are opposed by City Hall after the controlling Labour group officially came out against the idea.

Radical proposals to introduce congestion charging in Norwich were yesterday opposed by City Hall after the controlling Labour group officially came out against the idea.

With a feasibility study going on into whether to introduce road pricing around Norwich, city council leader Steve Morphew said there was not enough congestion in the city at the present time to justify such a charge.

Mr Morphew said other plans, such as introducing a northern distributor road around the city, would ease problems and said the benefits associated with charging could be achieved in other ways.

He also claimed if “charging cordons” were set up in places such as the outer ring road, it would create the unfair situation where some Norwich people would have to pay to drive their cars into their city while their neighbours would not.

He added: “While the government has promised to put in investment in transport for councils that try charging, we are already bidding to government for cash for many of the same improvements with neighbouring councils as part of the drive for more homes and jobs for local people - so a lot of the benefits of charging can be achieved without charging.”

Norfolk County Council is one of only 10 areas given £250,000 by the government to investigate how road pricing could be implemented in the city and a feasibility study is being carried out to investigate the use of congestion charging as part of a package of measures to ease traffic problems in the city.

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Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation at Norfolk County Council, said: “I am surprised to hear the council come out and say this before the consultation and feasibility study has finished.

“What we want to make clear is that the feasibility study is only the stages of being done. No decision has yet been made on whether congestion charges will be implemented and will not for some time yet.”

Other political groups at City Hall were not so sure. Rupert Read, Green Party councillor for the Wensum ward, said: “This move by the Labour group is premature.”

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