London, 8 Dec 1998.
For immediate release.

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Why Urban Road Pricing Proposals Must be Resisted
Five Key Reasons Why Drivers Should Be Angry
The Government has today announced the first consultation to emerge from the Transport White Paper - paving the way for urban road pricing and taxes on workplace car parking.

"It is highly appropriate that this sneak attack on motorists is launched the day after the anniversary of the Japanese raid on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor", said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "John Prescott would do well to remember the quote from the Japanese admiral who led the attack: 'I fear all we have achieved is to awaken a sleeping giant!'"

The British motorist is the sleeping giant, and here are five good reasons why he should awaken:

  1. We already pay £33bn a year in motoring taxes. If they want to use some of this to create real improvements in public transport to encourage drivers to use it for city journeys, that's fine. But we are fed up with paying one eighth of all government revenue and getting nothing but abuse and threats in return. New taxes are unacceptable when the existing ones are already too high.

  2. Why should we trust them when they say they will spend the money on transport? Remember Road Fund Tax that was supposed to pay for the roads? Prescott has already acted to continue the toll on the Dartford Tunnel after it was due to end. Parking charges brought supposedly to pay for new car parks in the 1970s have continued and escalated long after these have been paid for. Lottery money, supposedly for incremental projects, is now being diverted to health and education. "Hypothecation" of taxes is nothing new - and it has always been a con. This will be the same.

  3. Improving local transport in the minds of local authorities usually translates into measures to obstruct drivers and increase congestion. This is either called "reallocating road space" - closing roads, removing lanes, introducing unnecessary bus lanes which snarl up the traffic when there isn't a bus in sight - or "traffic calming" - obstructing and narrowing roads and turning Britain's towns into a corrugated wasteland. This is what they mean by "spending money on local transport". It is a stick and stick approach to the driver - the carrot is just lip service.

  4. Prescott claims they only intend to switch 10-15% of commuters onto public transport - that means 90% must suffer increased costs and deliberate obstruction when they have no choice. Why no choice? Many have no access to public transport at the start of their journey, still more need their car once they are at work. Parents need to drop small children at school or playgroup on the way to work, which there simply isn't time to do on the bus. The view peddled by Prescott that these charges will free up congestion for those who still need to drive is a total fallacy. 90% of the traffic will be competing for 50% of the roadspace, and congestion will get worse.

  5. This proposal will work against urban renewal by encouraging businesses to move out of town. This will increase pressure on countryside development and further the decay of our cities. It may even increase traffic overall as more people work in the suburbs.

 

Notes for Editors