Clean air charge could kill businesses, claims councillor

SADDLEWORTH councillor Max Woodvine believes the introduction of a proposed Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester could kill a large part of the area’s trade.

Laura Evans with Cllr Max Woodvine in Uppermill

Current Mayor Andy Burnham wants to charge the most polluting vehicles that enter the area in a bid to combat air pollution.Under the plan, HGVs, LGVs, buses and taxis would be charged to enter the zone if they did not meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions standards. Private cars would not be charged.

It was originally earmarked to come in next year but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a delay of 12 months and a possible redrawing of it.

But Parish councillor Woodvine has warned bringing it in could have a disastrous effect.

The Dobcross representative said: “I can’t believe that it applies to Saddleworth.

“It will more or less kill our tourism industry and local people will be greatly affected by being charged to use their villages. I think it’s shocking.”

Cllr Woodvine’s comments came during a visit to Saddleworth by Laura Evans, the Conservative Party’s candidate in the Greater Manchester mayoral election.

Cllr Luke Lancaster, Laura Evans and Cllr Max Woodvine

Referring to the Clean Air Zone as a ‘congestion charge,’ she highlighted the impact it may have.She said: “As we know it, the congestion charge, that’s going to be implemented here soon. This congestion charge will affect so many small businesses.

“It will really affect small traders, like plumbers and joiners.

“Whether you’re going from Uppermill to Manchester or from Saddleworth to Stockport, those charges are going to be implemented.

“They’re too draconian. Obviously we’re all keen for clean air but what they need to be is appropriate.”

Mrs Evans is visiting as many areas as she can ahead of the mayoral election and met with parish councillors Max Woodvine and Luke Lancaster, as well as Oldham borough’s Graham Sheldon, as she visited a number of different places, including Dovestone Reservoir.

Mrs Evans will go up against current incumbent Mr Burnham in next year’s election, which looks set to be dominated by issues like public transport and the much-debated Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

And she believes the area should be kept as it is and not be over-developed.

Mrs Evans, a former Trafford councillor, added: “Saddleworth’s clearly a stunningly beautiful place and a lot of the community spirit is clearly being very well looked after and tended by it.

“The greenery is amazing and that’s something we must fight to keep. For me, it’s absolutely breathtaking and we must keep it such.”

Cllr Lancaster raised local matters, such as the congestion seen at Dovestone and the development at Stonebreaks in Springhead.

He said: “It’s great that Laura came to visit us here in Saddleworth.

“She’s reaching out to discuss local concerns, such as over development at locations like Stonebreaks and Dovestone.

“We discussed the prospect of losing our precious green spaces and Laura is really conscious about them and is ready to lead to protect them for the use of future generations and the sake of our communities.”

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