DRIVERS could be charged to enter Bury under a second phase of plans for congestion charging.

The town is one of eight, plus Manchester Airport, identified as areas for possible future charging schemes after the city zones are introduced in 2012.

Oldham councillor Richard Knowles, Lib Dem leader on the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (PTA), said Oldham and Rochdale had been chosen as the first towns to be hit because they are getting new Metrolink extensions. The other towns are clearly shown in the Congestion Charging Consultation Leaflet that has been posted to every household in Greater Manchester, and condemned by the Lib Dems as a waste of £500,000.

Politicians in Bury were expected to criticise the charging proposals, as they stand, at last night's council meeting as the Bury Times went to press.

Under the plans, motorists would pay up to £5 a day to travel in and out of Manchester at peak times on weekdays.

There will be two zones, one for the city centre and one bordered by the M60.

The charges are linked to a £3 billion investment in public transport. A decision on the initial proposals will be made by Greater Manchester leaders on July 27. In the meantime, Bury's Liberal Democrats are furious that the Tory group on the PTA has allowed Labour to remain in charge, although they no longer have an outright majority.

The Tories in Bury gave the council's two seats on the PTA to the Lib Dems, in what Labour condemned as a blatant deal to win Lib Dem backing for the Tories to take minority control of Bury council.

Local party leader Tim Pickstone said: "Labour lost control of the PTA in the elections on May 3.

"It was a real opportunity to replace the people in charge of transport with people with some common sense to deal with these congestion charge proposals. In entering into this bizarre alliance with Labour, Conservatives have let down the people of Greater Manchester."

BUSINESS bosses in Bury can have their say next week on the congestion charging proposals.

The meeting, hosted by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is at Link House, Walmersley Road, Bury, is on Tuesday between 8.30am and 10am. To attend, e-mail or call (0161) 237 4073.