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Paper hosts Manchester c-charge debate

More than 250 readers attended a special one-off debate to discuss Manchester’s controversial congestion charge proposals hosted by the South Manchester Reporter.

The event was organised by the newspaper to allow voters to quiz key figures from all sides of the debate before taking part in a referendum later this year.

Speaking in favour of the congestion charge plan was Yes Campaign chairman Lis Phelan while Andrew Simpson spoke against the proposals on behalf of the Greater Manchester Momentum group.

The event was hosted by former BBC North West political editor Jim Hancock.

Reporter editor Lawrence Matheson said: “This is one of the biggest decisions Manchester has ever faced.

“We wanted to give our readers the opportunity to put questions to some of the key figures in the debate in order to allow them to make the best-informed decision possible when they cast their vote.

“It was a fascinating debate and the excellent turn-out shows just how passionate people are about this important issue.”

If the plans get the go ahead motorists would be charged up to £5 per day – at today’s prices – for crossing the charging rings of the M60 and an inner boundary.

Jim Hancock said: “The vote tightened during the course of the evening, which proved it was a valuable discussion and helped some people make up their minds.

“The audience were generally very well informed and raised some excellent questions and issues for the panellists. This debate showed it is all still to play for and the vote could go either way.”