Updated: Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 @ 6:21pm

MPs dispute Manchester is the slowest city

MPs dispute Manchester is the slowest city

By Jessica Elliot

Local councillors are disputing new research which shows Manchester has become the slowest city in the country.

Insurance company Direct Line said that during Manchester’s rush hour motorists travel at a crawl of 13.3mph compared to London’s quicker 14.4mph.

Commuters into the city spend on average one hour 55 minutes in their car during peak travel times according to the company.

However, Direct Line’s research has been brought into question by Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, who said the authority had done a lot of work to tackle congestion.

He said: "The measures we have taken include encouraging people to use public transport and introducing recent changes to the city centre's parking service.

"We are always willing to have a serious discussion about congestion, but not on the basis of a spurious PR 'survey' drawn up using a tiny sample of motorists on behalf of a company trying to sell car insurance." 

Direct Line had market researchers, Vision Critical, interview a random sample of 1,095 drivers working in 10 UK cities aged 18+ via an online survey in October 2011 for Direct Line.

Measures to solve congestion issues in the city have been widely debated in recent years.

A spokesperson from Direct Line said: “The research was done by a third party, Vision Critical, whose sample size is statistically valid and uses the same methodology as government researchers so we wholly stand by the findings.”

Commuters who drive into the city have said they are not surprised by the research.

Simon Stevenson, 42, an accountant who lives in Didsbury, said: “I really try not to come in by car if I can help it. Perhaps introducing a congestion charge would improve the situation but I would not want to pay it.”

Paula Hindley, 34, a manager from Stockport, said: “I avoid commuting in by car at all costs as it takes ages but I don’t think introducing a congestion charge would help matters that much. My other main concern is that parking in the centre is also a nightmare.”

In 2008 Mancunians voted in a referendum as to whether the city should introduce a road congestion charge similar to London but the idea was not taken up.

With Direct Line’s research suggesting Manchester has become slower to travel into than the capital the discussion regarding ways to tackle the issue could be reopened.

However, Labour MP Graham Stringer, who was involved in the campaign against the congestion charge in 2008, is still sticking to his argument of three years ago.

“I can’t think of anything worse for the Manchester economy than introducing a congestion charge,” he said.

He also disagrees with Direct Line’s findings.

“I do not think the figures are credible, they are not in line with what I have read from the Department of Transport but even so to tax people £1,000 a year via a congestion charge when we are heading into another recession is ludicrous,” Mr Stringer said.

According to the ‘Transport’ section of the Manchester Partnership’s recent State of the City report 'Car usage has fallen by approximately 20 per cent while the number of rail passengers has more than doubled in the morning peak over the same period’.

According to this report, congestion appears to be going down. Fewer people are driving into the city centre and more are using public transport.

The report also claims there has been a 5.5 per cent improvement in journey times into the city centre between 2009/10 and 2004/05 on 15 monitored routes.

Paula Hindley, 34, a manager from Stockport, said: “I avoid commuting in by car at all costs as it takes ages but I don’t think introducing a congestion charge would help matters that much. My other main concern is that parking in the centre is also a nightmare.”