Will Ladbrokes catch a cold from the Manc C-Charge?

Will Ladbrokes catch a cold from the Manc C-Charge?

Is it down to passengers against commuting motorists?

At 10pm tonight voting closes in what’s been, after the London Mayoral Race, the biggest single UK election of 2008. A total of 1.94m electors across ten boroughs in the Manchester conurbation have been voting by post to decide whether drivers should pay peak hour congestion charges.

    If this was down to the punters there’d be an overwhelming NO vote. Ladbrokes has reported that 92% of all bets placed have been against the plan and their latest prices are YES 3/1 with 1/4 on the NO.

Latest estimates suggest that the referendum has already topped the Ken-Boris contest. The estimated turnout as of yesterday was 46% The top figures were Trafford, 55.6% and Tameside 54.4%. The smallest turnouts have been in Manchester itself with 39% and Wigan 39.9%.

To encourage late voters special collect points have been set up right across the region to receive the voting packs.

The challenge for NO punters is that a massive bribe inducement – of £3bn of investment in public transport will be made available to the region if the vote is YES. A NO vote means the region will get nothing.

    So in the end this could be down to public transport users against the commuting motorist and in terms of sheer numbers there are many more of the former than the latter.

What polling there’s been has suggested that it’s neck and neck and it’s a hard call trying to work out what the turnout levels means.

My sense is that the outcome will be a lot tighter than the betting suggests and from what we know this is a 50-50 chance. Given the prices I’m putting a bit more on YES.

Because of the technicalities in the voting system the plan could go down, along with the £3bn, even if the aggregate YES vote is greater than the NO one. Ladbrokes are paying out on votes cast.

Mike Smithson

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