National Alliance Against Tolls - Reaction in June 2005 to Government plans for Road Pricing

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Reaction in June 2005 to Government plans for Road Pricing
Some of the reactions and views in the two weeks following the news of Government plans on 5th June 2005:-

ITV viewers

  • "Over £10,000 a year just to drive the car! This is nearly half my wages. If I want to work I need my car, or I can give up my car and not work and lose my house."

  • "When will the Government help the people instead of straining every penny they can? I am seriously thinking of emigrating."

  • "If Alistair Darling gets his way and road pricing is introduced, I hope the Government hasn't the brass neck to retain tax on fuel. After all, drivers already pay taxes according to the amount they use the roads, it is there in the price at the pump."

    BBC viewers
    See BBC Have Your Say - "Should road tax be pay-as-you-go?" but here is a flavour:-

  • "We already do have a pay as you go road charging system - it's called fuel duty!"

  • "We already pay per mile through fuel tax; this is just a way for the government to attempt to increase fuel tax without the road blockades. They think we are stupid, perhaps we are!"

  • "The answer to road congestion is simple build more roads and ensure they will be suitable for future upgrading."

  • "It's just a policy for raising taxes and keeping the riff-raff off the roads when our 'betters' want to travel."

  • "The cost of motoring for my fuel efficient, low emission Smart car will now be no cheaper than my thirsty 46year old Land Rover. Is this really an environmentally responsible plan?"

  • "I don't believe politicians' promises when it comes to scrapping of taxes."

  • "As petrol will be much cheaper without the tax does this mean I can get rid of my small fuel efficient car and go and get the biggest four wheel drive I can find at little extra running costs?"

  • "Very Orwellian."

  • "It is funny that we are one of the most highly taxed countries for motor vehicles, but they still want to charge more."

  • "Sounds like big brother wants to keep an eye on us."

  • "Another demonstration of the government jumping on the technology bandwagon with absolutely no idea of the possible consequences."

  • "If this proposal goes ahead I will be paying out more in travelling tax than I currently earn!"

  • "It's just another stealth tax, and, a lot of motorists and particularly pensioners, who may rely heavily on their cars to get about, won't be able to afford it."

  • "Just another way of fleecing the motorist."

  • "What price a "mileage tax defeater" down the pub or at the car boot sale? And what chaos will reign when the system crashes, or a "mileage tax virus" hits?"

  • "This scheme will not reduce congestion; it will not save the motorist any money; it will not help the environment and it will not make the roads any safer."

  • "Great. Can we apply the same principle to education and health?"

  • "I think we can safely say, that this would lead to the complete economic collapse of the UK, as all major commuters would be forced to quit their jobs or move, probably splitting up families."

  • "Great! Now not only can I not afford to buy a house near to where I work because of house prices, I will no longer be able to afford to drive to work! Yet another idea to suck the last penny out of the motorist!"

  • "I would pay this toll once only, when on the way to the airport to emigrate."

  • "This looks like a perk for the wealthy, forcing lower paid motorists to use less economic roads, thus allowing the better off to have the benefit of motorway usage."

  • "Fantastic Idea!" (We included this one just to show you that we are not biased!!)

    Road Users Forum

  • "This will require a vast baggage train - the purchase and installation of the boxes, satellites, computers, bureaucrats, a payment system, an anti-evasion system, and extra police and court work to back it all up. "

  • "The technology will give the government a fair idea of whom we visit. I have long thought that if the government must tax our vehicle use, and I would rather they did not, then fuel duty is the fairest method - vehicle fuel consumption is roughly proportionate to our road use, and as vehicles use more fuel in traffic jams than on the open road, it is a rough form of congestion charging too. Alas that is too cheap and simple for the socialists, and our movements would not be reported to Room 101."

  • "A wicked business altogether. I feel we should agitate against it, and if it is imposed we should refuse to carry the box or circumvent them, leave them at home or wrap them in aluminium foil. Time will tell. I do hope this will prove to be an imposition too far!"

  • "Somebody go and tell Darling & cronies before they blow £Xbn of our money that GPS signals are quite weak and are easy to jam in the vicinity of one's car, not to mention that the GPS gizmo needs some electricity to work. How on earth are they proposing to enforce it?"


    6th June - ABD Press Release- "It won't work - it will be a huge white elephant, and hiding within it is a dark trojan horse for civil liberties, as it means that drivers will be tagged and tracked like criminals. It will just be a giant version of the London Congestion charge - hugely unpopular and full of perceived unfairness and aggravation for drivers." - "Darling's Satellite Road Pricing Scheme is a White Elephant, a Trojan Horse and a Red Herring"

    6th June - Daily Mail Comment - "Rarely has the expression 'highway robbery' been more apt. Britain's drivers are already the most over-penalised in the world, making a hugely disproportionate contribution to the Government's coffers. Mr Darling says nothing like this has been tried anywhere in the world. Perhaps he should ask himself why." - "Darling turns into Dick Turpin"

    6th June - Daily Telegraph Opinion - "Perhaps the most serious objection of all, is that Gordon Brown has shown again and again that he simply cannot be trusted to replace one form of taxation with another. For him, every change in the tax rules has always been an excuse to tax the public more." - "A taxing route to take"

    6th June - The Times "Thunderer" - "Doctor, it's driving me mad"

    6th June - The Times leading article - (in favour of tolls) - "Pay as you drive - Road pricing is a first step in unclogging Britain's transport"

    6th June - John Lettice in The Register - "UK road pricing plan heralds the ID card for cars"

    6th June Journal (Teeside) - Northumberland County Council leader Cllr Bill Brooks - "There is very little congestion of any kind in Northumberland. I would be completely against the introduction of road charges. It would be very harsh on people living in Northumberland, especially those who commute into Newcastle and, in my opinion, it would be a tax too far."

    6th June Leeds Evening Post - Cllr Andrew Carter, the Conservative group leader on Leeds Council - "We are not prepared to see anything in Leeds which would damage the local economy and road charging certainly would."

    6th June Motor Cycle News - asked the Department of Transport how bikes fitted into their plans, the answer was - "We can't answer specific questions yet!" Bikers Views

    6th June various - Terence Bendixson, secretary of the Independent Transport Commission at the University of Southampton -"There could be a poll tax revolt if Alistair Darling fails to deal with these issues in ways that drivers see as fair and reasonable."

    6th June Yorkshire Post - Nimble Thompson, regional chairman of the Institute of Directors -"The effect would be quite horrific on the face of it. It would make Leeds do things differently to other parts of the country."

    6th June Yorkshire Post - Comment - The "con" in congestion charges - "Despite the hostility of the City Council, Leeds has been identified as being a suitable pilot for road pricing. Any measure which in any way restricts the movement of people and goods must be viewed with the deepest suspicion. This is not an example of nimby-ism gone rampant, but of a considered objection based upon common sense. Leeds fears the consequences of Mr Darling's experiment."

    6th June - Steve Hounsham from Transport 2000 - "Road charging is the way forward to deal with the threat of gridlock. It is a fairer system of taxation and provides the opportunity to control congestion and also increase the cost of motoring to reduce traffic. But the Government's position is confused because on the one hand it is recognising the problems caused by traffic growth and on the other is sanctioned a big motorway widening programme. It doesn't add up."

    6th June - Tory Party - Philip Bradbourn MEP - "changing the nanny state into something far more sinister" "Big Brother at the wheel of your car"

    7th June - Martin Samuel in The Times - "Vote Labour. Keep the poor off the roads. Now that's progress. Road pricing does nothing to negate the unnecessary journey for a packet of fags by some rich bastard, it just means some poor bastard takes twice as long to get to work on two trains and a bus. This is anti-social, anti-family, anti-community; and anything that makes it harder for people to connect with each other, ultimately reduces the quality of life as surely as exhaust fumes. Alistair Darling (Loretto School, Musselburgh, 20 grand a year, if you're interested), will return all of Britain's thoroughfares, to the rightful owners - Company car drivers, getaway men, Jamiroquai, Rio Ferdinand and Pauline Prescott. So vote Labour. Keep the riff-raff off the roads. You know it makes sense." - "Drive the poor off the road - that's rich"

    8th June - Larry Elliot in Guardian - (in favour of tolls) "The only alternative is gridlock "

    8th June various - Stewart Whyte from Association of Car Fleet Operators (responsible for 700,000 vehicles) - "Dealing with expenses claims from drivers will have a massive impact of the costs of all companies who rely on staff to drive. Establishing a scheme will cost hundreds of millions of pounds in infrastructure and software. We already have thousands of motorists who flout vehicle duty etc, how does the Government intend to make these people pay-as-they-drive? The current vehicle duty register helps reduce evasion and to improve anti-crime initiatives, what will they do if it is scrapped?"

    8th June - John Grimshaw from Sustrans (Cycle network) on BikeBiz - "Road charging may solve congestion but if all it does is tip more traffic onto the quiet roads it will do nothing to reduce the stress on the environment and, if it makes the roads so busy we cannot cycle on them, our health will suffer."

    8th June - Safe Speed - 12 Plus PROBLEMS - "Road Pricing"

    9th June - Road Haulage Association Press Release - TNN - "RHA Urges Congestion Action. NOW!"

    9th June - Freight Transport Association Press Release - "Road Pricing - Car Plan Can Learn From Lorry Experience"

    9th June - RAC Foundation Press Release - "Road pricing - the public will decide"

    9th June - AA Motoring Trust Press Release - "Response to Road Charging Statement" (no longer available)

    9th June - Transport 2000 Press Release - "Road charging looks set to let `gas guzzlers` off the hook"

    9th June Cambridge Evening News - Richard Spring MP -"I think the idea would be a complete nightmare. You can't expect people to pay more for lousy roads."

    9th June - Friends of the Earth Press Release - "Road-charging must cut traffic and pollution"

    9th June - New Statesman leading article- (in favour of tolls) "Addressing the car pandemic"

    9th June - Jennie Bristow in Spiked - "The facts suggest that building more roads is precisely what we should do" - "Drivers: Guilty as charged?"

    9th June - Jenny Jones from Green Party - "Alistair Darling's proposal might sound green, but it makes no sense to reduce fuel taxes so that gas guzzling 4x4 vehicles can pay almost the same to drive as a mini. We should be planning for traffic reduction, not a technocratic solution which involves just moving traffic off one road and onto another."

    10th June - Guardian Leader - (pro tolls) "Time to charge"

    10th June - Simon Jenkins in Evening Standard - Look Smart "Just keep it simple, Darling"

    11th June - Jeremy Warner in Independent - "Road pricing is socially inequitable, forcing lower income groups on to circuitous routes at inconvenient times. The danger of road pricing is that it becomes just another way of controlling our lives and charging us more, without noticeably improving the quality of our motoring."

    11th June - Letter from Christopher Foster in Times - "Road pricing or fuel duty"

    11th June - Matthew Parris in Times - "Put your foot on the gas, Darling, and speed ahead to the future"
    This incensed is so much that we sent this (unpublished) letter to the Times:-"Sir,
    In February when Edinburgh decisively voted against road tolls, Matthew Parris wrote that the people "should never have been asked". On Saturday, Matthew was again trying to sell road tolls and repeated the myths that the people of Edinburgh had seen through.

    Tolls are uneconomic, unfair and unwanted. They are mainly advocated by those who are anti roads, and supported by governments who see tolls as another source of revenue and as an excuse for avoiding the required spending on roads.

    Alistair Darling, Matthew and their friends live in a fantasy world. They largely travel on trains that are massively subsidised, tax free planes, and in taxis that are exempt from the London Toll or "congestion charge". When they do go by private car, their high incomes mean that they will hardly notice a toll that is intended to force poorer drivers off the roads.

    Over the last 30 years, the average distance travelled in Britain has increased by 50%, but the amount of time spent travelling is still on average one hour a day. There is no need for tolls to prevent "gridlock". What we do need is that some of the £35 billion profit that Gordon Brown makes from roads users is invested in new and improved toll free roads.

    Our alliance opposes all tolls, existing and proposed, and we call on all roads users to make sure that the politicians are stopped from going any further with this crazy idea."
    12th June - Christopher Booker in Telegraph - "'Europe' will stretch from back-roads to outer space"

    12th June - Roger Bootle in Telegraph - (pro tolls) "Time to put a price on road travel"

    12th June - Jasper Gerard in Sunday Times - "Road charging is a policy so bonkers you fear Darling is drunk in charge of a government; has he swigged too much eyebrow dye? Existing taxes on petrol are fair. We pay in proportion to how much we drive and the Inland Revenue looks to the fuel efficiency of company cars when charging us for the benefit. But Ali D will charge a Smart car as much as a dumb Hummer (or a belching ministerial Jaguar)." - "Darling's driving our privacy into the crash barrier"

    12th June Epping Forest Guardian - Eric Pickles MP - "Road pricing on M25 leaves me horrified as it will mean chaos on our local roads. We know how busy our roads were before the M25 was built with nose-to-tail vehicles on the main A roads and drivers using rat runs' through our residential areas and along rural lanes."

    13th June - Freight Transport Association Press Release - "Invest in Road and Rail as well as Road User Charging"

    13th June - Letter from Raphael Mankin in "Computing" magazine - "The Big Brother objections to the government's ID card scheme, pale into insignificance next to it's road-pricing plans. The government will have a record of everywhere you go, how you got there, and at what speed. It will also have a pretty good idea of who you are associating with. But - within a week of the vehicle tracking going live there will be devices on the market for disabling or circumventing it."

    19th June - Jeremy Clarkson in Times - "How can Darling and Man Love have listened to their advisers and then thought, "Yes, that sounds great. Let's take it to the public." Are they mad?" - "I'm a tiny bit impressed"

    6th July - (Yes, this is more than two weeks after the announcement, but we couldn't resist adding it!) - Harvey Thompson on World Socialist Web Site (USA) - "Only a truly cynical bunch of ruthless pro-marketeers, indifferent to the basic requirements of the populace in a complex mass society, could have dreamt up something so fabulously iniquitous and still seek to dress it up in socially progressive clothing. The blunt message is: If you can't afford to pay, get off the roads." - "Britain: government plans peak-time road charges"

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