READING'S all-out efforts to bag £300m of Government transport cash may fail if nearby villages cannot be persuaded to fall in line.
The funding from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) is all-or-nothing, linking huge and contentious projects - including a third Thames Bridge and congestion charges - making for a tough sell.
Sarah Hall, of Kidmore End parish council, said: "Everybody shouldn't be letting Reading ride roughshod over them - we're not saying we hate Reading, but one size does not fit all, our problems are very different." Reading wants as many partners as possible to boost its chances in its bid for the TIF money, so councillors and officials have been trying to convince neighbouring councils that this cash is the best way of solving their transport problems too.
Although Oxfordshire County Council has just voted to contribute to the bid development in principle, villagers in South Oxfordshire are likely to be among the most difficult to persuade. Many expect any unclogging of traffic in Reading to end up on their roads, especially if a third Thames bridge gets the go-ahead.
Parish councils held a meeting on Thursday in Dunsden village hall, with most opposed to Reading's plan and comparing it to the Heathrow expansion. Watlington parish council chairwoman Angela Paterson said it would be like running a motorway through the Oxfordshire countryside.
But Reading's transport leader Cllr Tony Page said: "I'm certainly not giving up, I would welcome a meeting with people in the South Oxfordshire parishes to allay some of their concerns.
"TIF has huge benefits to them, such as getting HGVs off their roads. They need to look at the package as a whole, rather than give a kneejerk response to particular issues.
"The money is there if the bid works." A successful bid would see a £275m Government cash injection, with councils making up the other £25m, for an across-the-board bus fares cut, three park and ride hubs by 2013, and a low-emission zone to get lorries off minor roads.
There would be a mass transit hub at the redeveloped Reading Station, with guided buses getting priority at traffic lights, while another £21m would be used to upgrade the Reading-Basingstoke rail line. The third Thames bridge would be built in 2018 at the earliest, at a cost of £48m.
If these measures fail, a peak time, inbound-only, non-residents £2 congestion charge could apply in 'Greater Reading'. People in Woodley, Earley, Pangbourne and Purley are unlikely to have to pay, but a report to Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet said the zone would not extend into South Oxfordshire.
Cllr Page hopes to have the bid in by July.