12 May 2011.
For immediate release.

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Time to Keep the Promises and 'End the War on the Motorist'
A year ago this week, the coalition government was formed and the new Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, promised to end the war on the motorist. 1
Brian Macdowall, Campaign Director for the Association of British Drivers (ABD), gives a reality check on the government's record:

“Mr Hammond has made a fair start in a few select areas, such as targeting measures at the heaviest drink-drivers, and looking at increasing motorway speed limits. However, much needed reforms have not hit the fast lane. David Cameron said that he'd be a friend to the motorist, and make life easier for families facing sky-high motoring bills. Like Mr Hammond, he pledged a ‘fair fuel stabiliser’ which would see the taxes reduced if the price of oil rose sharply. 2

Unfortunately what we have looks like a ‘fuel duty accelerator’, in which taxes will not be reduced 3. Rather it threatens a vicious circle of above-inflation increases while further driving up the price of goods at the shops. The Chancellor, George Osborne, said he'd do everything that he could for drivers, but even a mere penny relief is dependent on North Sea companies who are threatening to cut off his funding.

The ABD is happy to offer him several suggestions for cutting out waste in public spending to enable an overdue fuel duty cut. 4

Local government secretary Eric Pickles assured us that accessible parking was vital and spoke against turning motorists into a cash cow. 5 Unfortunately, in spite of talking up 'competitive' charges, he has allowed local authorities to make swingeing increases.

In spite of his warm words that the Government is calling off 'Whitehall's war on the motorist', there will be no benefit where the war is carried on by local authorities steeped in the last government's disastrous culture of taxing and pushing people out of their cars.

Safeguards of public acceptability are sorely needed, not least against the incredible call by health minister Anne Milton for cars to be banned from residential roads on Sundays, based on the flimsiest reasoning. 6

In a high profile example, the discredited speed camera regime has been allowed to continue with diverted funding and spurious claims of benefits, even though teased-out statistics showed a lack of carnage where cameras had been removed. The vast majority of accidents recorded were within the speed limit and due to lapses in judgement or attention. 7

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg, but it is time to call in the ministers' promises this the government would have to do things very differently for a people increasingly resentful of over-zealous officials and escalating charges and fines. 8

If Mr Cameron is to restore trust in politics, his government must now follow through clear commitments on how the war on the motorist will be ended.”

 
 
NOTES FOR EDITORS
 




1. Coalition government formed 11 May 2010, Hammond appointed 12 May 2010. Coalition will end war on the motorist Transport Secretary pledges
2. Election promises, 29 Apr 2010
3. Budget speech, 23 March 2011
4. Possible windfalls, waste to consider:
Guardian
Telegraph
Daily Mail
5. DCLG Press Release - 3 Jan 2011
6. Minister calls for car ban on Sundays
Hansard
7. Recent road deaths and injuries
Speed cameras U turn needed to make roads safe
Cameras are switched back on
Speed cameras del could secure re-activation
8. as [2] and [5]
 
 
Notes for Editors about the ABD