Oxford has been used as a test model for areas hoping to introduce congestion and pay-per-mile road charging.

Two-hundred people from the Oxford area were interviewed in a survey about four theoretical charging schemes - but don't panic, as there is no plan to introduce it to the city.

The study will be presented to areas - including the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Tyne & Wear, Cambridgeshire, Shropshire, Reading and Bristol - which are hoping to attract a share of a £200m pot of Government money for transport.

Department for Transport spokesman Robert Hall said Oxford was chosen as it was a "neutral" area where charging was not proposed.

He said: "It's thinking about the impact of transportation costs on people. The model could have been in Oxford - it could have been anywhere that wasn't considering road pricing - but some of the work that was used to develop modelling techniques was done in Oxford."

People were asked for their response to four different schemes - ranging from one which charged a fee per mile inside the Oxford ring road at peak times and a £4 charge to drive into a central charging zone, to one where people would pay each time they passed through "charge points" within the ring road. No results have been published.

But Bob Johnston, Oxfordshire County Council's shadow cabinet member for transport, said: "This has all been going on behind the scenes but once the statistics have been done and all the figures are there, what's to stop them bringing it in?

"I'm absolutely certain some sort of charge is necessary to cut congestion, but I'm unhappy with the way this survey has been carried out without any great attention or fuss and it could be imposed overnight - they could sleepwalk into it."

David Robertson, cabinet member for transport, said the council had been approached by researchers based at Leeds University about the study.

He said: "They let us know they were carrying out a survey and they are free as an organisation to do whatever survey they want, but they have had no co-operation or involvement from us and it is nothing to do with Oxfordshire County Council."

"We have no intention of implementing or taking on board any congestion or road charging."

More than a million people have signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to scrap proposals for congestion and road charging.

Drivers were warned 18 months ago that they could have to pay tolls to use the clogged-up A34 in Oxfordshire.

County council leader Keith Mitchell warned toll booths on exit and entry roads on the busiest stretches of the dual carriageway looked increasingly likely.

Mr Mitchell told the Oxford Mail in July 2005, after talks with Government ministers about congestion on the A34, that he feared the county would be used as a pilot scheme for road charging.