Birmingham will under no circumstances introduce a London- style congestion charge for motorists heading into the city centre, according to the politician responsible for overseeing transportation.
The tough stance by cabinet member Len Gregory is likely to raise questions about the city council's commitment to a West Midlands bid for £1 million from the Government to investigate methods of road pricing.
The region's seven metropolitan councils, including Tory-Lib Dem controlled Birmingham, will on Friday agree to push forward with a feasibility study into methods of congestion charging.
The move could eventually lead to the West Midlands being selected to become the pilot area for a national, satellite-based road pricing scheme - enabling it to access a £2.5 billion fund to improve public transport.
A position paper issued by the councils makes it clear that a feasibility study would look at the development of demand management strategies, "considering all possible options."
However, Coun Gregory (Con Billesley) said yesterday that Birmingham would not be following the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, by charging motorists up to £8 a day to drive into the city.
"As responsible people, we could not say we are not interested in Government thinking. We want to find out what demand management actually means.
"But congestion charging as it happens in London is something we would not consider," he said.
West Midlands motorists regard traffic congestion as a more serious issue than the state of hospitals, schools and housing, according to a survey by the councils.
New research shows that drivers rate clogged roads and motorways as their biggest single concern after crime.
Figures demonstrating public anger about go-slow West Midlands will be reported to Friday's meeting.
The position paper shows that the councils are determined to demand tough guarantees about improving public transport in return for introducing congestion charging.
Four conditions have been drawn up:
* Any road pricing schemes must improve and not detract from the region's competitiveness.
* Alternative public transport options must be significantly funded and coming on stream to provide choice.
* There must be discussion about ways of ring-fencing income from road pricing for reinvestment in transport.
* The West Midlands knowledge base and innovative skills should be fully utilised in taking any initiatives forward.
It is also being stressed that a feasibility study would develop options for tackling congestion, not just satellitecontrolled road pricing.
The report underlines the cautious approach adopted to gain cross-party support for a highly contentious issue.
Projected Government funding for West Midlands transport schemes fall far short of what is needed to deliver major projects.
One way of gaining additional funding would be to dip into the Government's Transport Innovation Fund, which is available for local authorities chosen to conduct congestion charging pilot projects.
The report adds: "As part of the TIF bid, West Midlands authorities are committed to a bold transport strategy that confronts the challenge of congestion and underpins the region's ambitious strategy for growth and would include, amongst a range of measures, investigating the role of flexible road user charging."
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