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Don't bother signing it, no one is listening

19 Feb 2007 - JG

Whatever your views on road pricing, most would have to agree that the Government has made a complete mess of trying to get it introduced. It is expected that nearly 2 million people will have signed the e-petition on the No.10 website by the time it close tomorrow and I can not say I’m surprised.

Firstly, the Government have treated the electorate with complete contempt once again. They thought that by setting up the e-petitions facility on the website it would make it look as if they are listening and we are all playing an important role in the democratic process. However, we all know now that they are a complete waste of time and needless to say, tax payers’ money. The problem with the petitions is the easy retorts the Government can give them. So what if 2 million people have signed it? – Another 58 million have not. The current line coming out is – what are the alternatives to road pricing?

Which leads me on to problem two. The Government cite the London Congestion charge as an unpopular scheme that was introduced and really worked. What they fail to mention, and even more worrying, is realise that the levels are now only 8% below what they were pre-CCing and even more importantly, London has the largest public transport infrastructure in the world. Unlike the rest of the UK. The rural areas of the UK are going to have to pay whatever the government tells them to because there is no the Circle line to run them to work and back. This has created the sense that this is a money making scheme, not a climate change scheme or a way of reducing congestion. The facts are clear – even in a city with the most comprehensive transport infrastructure in the world it has only reduced congestion by 8% (and falling).

Finally, to really compound the fears that this is just an exercise in raising Mr Brown’s coffers, there has been no indication of scrapping or at least reviewing road tax or fuel duty. Instead this is another fee on top of what we already pay. A system that genuinely charged by the mile might be fair, but it’s a hybrid of every single possible road charging/taxing method known to mankind.

It is now been reported that drivers are going to have to pay £600 for the privilege as well -the cost to fit one of these spy boxes. The scheme itself will cost £62 billion to set up and £8.6 billion a year to run. These are mind blowing figures and the best the Government can actually hope to reduce congestion by is less than 8% going on all the actual evidence we have. An incredible waste of money, from a poorly thought out policy. And if you think I’m being unfair and that this righteous government is doing it for the good of the planet and to beat “car-park” Britain, what alternatives have the government proposed to get people to work other than them paying more to drive? And look at the figures from the Sunday papers for revenue raised from Britain’s motorists over the last ten years and I think it clear what this policy is all about…

Parking Fines - doubled to £1.2 billion
Speeding Fines - up eightfold to £120 million pa
VAT on fuel - up from £4.3 billion to £6.8 billion
Fuel tax - up from £19.4 billion to £25.2 billion
Road tax - up from £4.5 billion to £5.5 billion

Organisations: UK DfT

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