Geoffrey Berg battles a Greater Manchester congestion charge

By Candice Krieger, June 27, 2008

Campaigner Geoffrey Berg is fighting against controversial plans to introduce a congestion charge in Greater Manchester.

Ministers approved a bid for the initiative last week.

Mr Berg, an ex-councillor in Bury, is urging councillors to vote against the charge. His campaign is sparking referendums for publicly elected mayors, which if successful could oust council leaders.

He has already forced a referendum in Bury and has pulled two-thirds of the signatories required in Bolton to force a vote there also. Only one more council has to pull out for the scheme to be scrapped. Three councils — Bury, Stockport and Trafford — have already withdrawn their support.

“This is more than a scare tactic — the council leaders will know this is a process to replace them,” Mr Berg, 53, tells People. “It will also affect the major parties’ control over councils — Labour would get swallowed up in a mayoral election.”

He says: “If we get an elected mayor he will see the majority of people don’t want the charge.”

The proposed charge would cover the whole of Greater Manchester, an area 12 times larger than London’s city centre.

Its aim is to raise funds for a £3 billion redevelopment of Manchester’s public transport.

Mr Berg is concerned that there are no plans in the scheme to offer residents special dispensation.

“It will charge people every time they leave their front door,” says Mr Berg, who has calculated residents will be forced to pay an extra £2,000 a year.

He lives in Prestwich.

    Last updated: 4:45pm, August 17 2009