Businesses opposed to any congestion charge in Manchester have called for a referendum on the issue.
The Government is to announce backing for a scheme in Greater Manchester, where drivers would pay up to £5 to enter the city centre at busy times.
There would be two zones - one for driving into the city centre and one for driving through the outer M60 ring road.
The scheme is backed by Manchester City Council and a number of other local councils in the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).
They have put in a £3.5 billion bid to the Government for taxpayers' cash enabling them to set up the charging scheme, with the cash ploughed into improving bus and tram services.
Proponents say the road charge and public transport improvements will lessen traffic congestion - which it is claimed will improve the local economy in the long run.
Opponents, including many major local employers, say it would effectively be the world's biggest congestion charging zone, hit business and local people - and have now called for a public vote.
Local firms Kellogg's, Unilever and property developer Peel Holdings are members of the Greater Manchester Momentum Group (GMMG), formed to fight the scheme.
GMMG chairman Andrew Simpson said: "At a time when the economy is faltering and everyone is tightening their belts, the congestion charge will be yet another burden on ordinary people in Greater Manchester, costing them up to £100 every month simply to drive to work.
"Manchester will be a guinea pig for yet another unnecessary tax, making it harder to do business, create jobs and attract inward investment. Worst of all, the city will take on £1.8 billion of debt to supplement this award as the economy falters.
"There are real, cheaper alternatives to cut congestion and we believe everyone, from the business community to ordinary working people in Greater Manchester, should have a right to vote on this critical issue. Now is the time for the Government to take a lead in this debate."
Small businessman, Danny Franks, managing director of SBS Networks, an IT service based in central Manchester said, "I'm opposed to any congestion charge whatsoever.
"It will cost myself and our staff just to come to work. For many small businesses, we don't know whether we can afford it. How can putting a charge on people coming into Manchester improve the economy."
Mr Franks, who employees seven people added, "It is going to put financial strains on many of us.
"If it goes ahead this congestion charge will be with us for ever and a day, whatever they say the price will be, what will the charge be in five or ten or 15 years time? What is to stop them putting it up?
"It is another tax that is unstoppable."
Tony Rodgers, managing director of Rodgers the Florists, employing 43 people in Manchester said, "It is going to cost us dramatically more on all our employees going in and out of the city, all our delivery costs are going to go up and our distribution costs will go up as our suppliers costs go up.
"The council think it will create 30,000 jobs - I think it is going to cost us jobs. There has been no consultation with business at all, they are just going to put a tax on people between £600 and £1,200 a year. That is a massive amount for some people.
"Motorists are already hit with everything, increases in road tax, increases in fuel costs, which have been astronomical lately, this is going to cost us even more.
"There ought to be consultation and there ought to be a referendum.
"I think it is only right. It is supposed to be for the benefit of the people, so why can't they have a say in it?"
Manchester Blackley's Labour MP Graham Stringer predicted a backlash at the polls from disgruntled motorists in marginal seats on the fringes of the conurbation.
The Conservative leader of Trafford Council Susan Williams, who is hoping to unseat Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly from the marginal Bolton West seat in the upcoming General Election, said the scheme was "political suicide" for Labour.