Observe the zen-like balance of the TIF referendum question.

I’m actually not being sarcastic. I couldn’t think of a less hyperbolic post title.

David Ottewell reported today yesterday on the question that will be on the ballot papers for the TIF referendum and it’s difficult to criticise – the preamble which will appear on the paper mentions both the congestion charge and the investment in public transport, and the question itself mentions neither, going instead for the simple ‘do you agree with the proposals?’

Of course, the fact that it’s difficult to criticise hasn’t prevented the usual suspects from doing just that. A number of people have picked up on the fact that the question itself doesn’t mention the charge. Granted: but the charge will be mentioned on the same page – and, in fact, the massive amounts of investment in public transport aren’t in the question, either. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, the way most people seem to think about the TIF, even if they somehow manage to miss the rest of the words on the page and only see the referendum question, chances are they’ll think ‘the proposals’ refers to the congestion charge anyway. Like I said yesterday – more education needed!

The preamble –

Please read the leaflet enclosed with this ballot paper which provides details of the Greater Manchester Transport Innovation Fund proposals. These involve both major investment in public transport improvements in Greater Manchester and a weekday, peak time only, congestion charging scheme. Congestion charging would only be introduced after 80% of the public transport improvements are in place and not before the summer of 2013.”

– has also been criticised in some quarters for the use of the word ‘major’. Yeah, really. I don’t know what £3bn is if it’s not major, to be honest; and I think we have to give Greater Manchester residents enough credit for brains to know that ‘major investment in public transport improvements in Greater Manchester‘ does not constitute a promise that the bus each individual in Greater Manchester gets to work is going to be treated to a full makeover.

So, the question is sorted; and so, of course, is my answer, which I have been justifying this evening on commentisfree. Feel free to go and have a look – I’m too sleepy even to cut and paste and my post probably won’t make much sense out of context anyway. I think air quality might become my TIF-related issue of choice, though: as my little sister has severe asthma it’s something I take an interest in. (Well, that and I do occasionally walk to work along Oxford Road. But that’s a bit more selfish.)

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