After Boris Johnson’s comments last week, that the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone Plans were ‘completely unworkable’, officials in the region have agreed to pause the scheme, which was due to come into effect in May, until July, giving them extra time to submit a new plan to central Government.
This comes after large scale protests from taxi drivers, and following gathering condemnation on social media from the region’s residents.
It is suggested that the proposals would cause unfair disadvantages to residents and business owners, and it’s easy to see why…
Some vehicles were set to be charged up to £60 per day, with the lowest charges set to have been around £10 a day for taxis and private hire cars.
Whilst businesses, traders and taxi firms would have undoubtedly had to pass these costs on to their customers, this could have lead to a loss in business, especially with the ongoing (and worsening) ‘rise in the cost of living’ crisis.
It could be easy to view this as a Conservative versus Labour kind of dispute, with central Government knocking back something put forward by Andy Burnham, but the Mayor of Manchester himself has said that it’s time to take the politics out of the argument, and come up with a revised version of the plans that will actually serve the people of Greater Manchester, rather than punish them.
It’s important not to forget the aims behind this Clean Air Zone implementation, to provide the region’s residents with cleaner air, which is something that everyone wants - it just has to be achieved in a proportionate and fair way.
It seems we’re a ‘fair way’ off that becoming a reality just yet.
For now, at least, the suspension of the plan gives disgruntled business owners and residents a little breathing space of a different kind.