A resolute one. All of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs rejected plans for public transport improvements in the region which would have been part paid for by a congestion charge. With a turn out of around 50% in most areas, an average of 80% of residents voted no. There are more details here.
I wont pretend I'm not disappointed. I really felt this was an opportunity to make a difference to Greater Manchester, to air quality, to life quality. Although other cities, including Edinburgh, who have rejected a congestion charge have gone on to secure government cash for public transport improvements anyway, there is no guarantee that will be the case here. Let's be honest though, how many people were going to vote yes to something that could potentially cost them £1200 a year when we're in the middle of a credit crunch? It's not even as if the people on the billboards for the yes campaign looked very cheerful about the whole thing. It was all earnest faces, not a smile to be seen amongst them. Neither of these points changes the facts though. In the words of Allan Beswick, Manchester legend, "the congestion charge is dead".
In other news, Christmas continues to rush up on us. Today whist T slept I wrapped the remainder of my presents (not including his) and made Christmas chutney, which is cooling in sterilised jars, ready to be tied with ribbons and given as a gift to friends who will understand money's kind of tight this year. Last Christmas I was still on full-time full-salary maternity pay (not SMP) and with a 12 week old baby was spending next to nothing, I didn't exactly feel like going out. Now I earn 3/5 of my pre-pregnancy salary, a further £243 a month of which is taken out for childcare vouchers. I'm also back in the mood for partying. Tonight I'm going into town for a Christmas meal with a group of mums I met online! Fun, but perhaps not cheap! The only benefit of my new frugal lifestyle is that I currently don't earn enough to pay back my student loan. I can't see this changing anytime soon either, I would like to have another baby at some point, so more mat leave, then I'll probably return to work part time again. Once the children are at school (look at me skipping five years into the future in two lines of text!) although I'll probably work five days, they'll have to be short days to enable me to drop off and pick up, meaning my hours will probably remain the same. I looked online the other day to see what will happen if I don't pay off my loan. As a student in 1998, the first year tuition fees were introduced, and the first year not to get a grant, I borrowed £10K, which more than 7 years after graduation now stands at £9K and a bit (interest, plus the fact an entry-level job in radio pays next to nothing, so I didn't pay back straight away). If the money is not returned by the time I am 65, it will be written off. Only 36 years to go then!