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Road pricing

I suppose I must be living in the past, as my view of how the political process should work is that a political party devises a programme of prospective action in the form of a manifesto, and then broadly at its own expense sells this idea to the electorate and if it gains power acts upon it.

However, judging from a report by the ippr (sic), this is not the done thing at all. Rather, an incumbent government should decide upon a course of action, and then spend public money to move public opinion, in this case on national road pricing.

I’ll be damned if I will put money into the pockets of the soi-disante ‘leading UK progressive think tank’, so instead I’m making do with the press release précis of the oh so punningly named ‘Steering Through Change’ rather than forking out ten quid for it. Doubtless there are any number of fiskable details in the main report, but here are some of the elephant traps evident in the methodology:

The research shows that while more than 90 per cent of people see congestion as a serious problem less than 40 per cent said they supported road pricing as a solution”.

However, the polled group were told: “A sample of 1150 people were given a description of road pricing that claimed it would replace Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Three additional samples of between 100 and 150 people were told that it would replace fuel duty, VED and fuel duty, or neither tax”. I do not have a car, so will make do with the 2005 figures of road tax varying from £55 to £165. Given that the London road pricing scheme is charging £8 a day, anyone thinking that road pricing would be exchanged in a straight swap for road pricing fees, and that it would only cost £165 rather than somewhere nearer £3000 for a year’s daily driving would have to be of a level of naivety that probably has them if not actually believing in Father Christmas, then certainly that horoscopes are scientifically valid, Elvis lives and that wrestling is not fixed. However, how many people outside the South East would know how much the ‘congestion charge’ costs? I could not hazard a guess at the cost, if there is one, of crossing the Mersey or the Forth bridge. And still 40% support road pricing….

There’s more: “ippr held six focus groups with participants who drive everyday or nearly every day and who stated they were either 'very satisfied', 'quite satisfied' or 'neither satisfied nor dissatisfied' with their local public transport. These groups were held in Sale, Birmingham and Harlow”. So, another *hugely* representative group of people. Birmingham is the second city and has commuter rail lines, Sale has a tram network, and Harlow is basically part of London sprawl. So we are not talking about places with a once a week bus service, and whatever proportion of Brummies, Saleites and Harlovians were ‘quite unsatisfied’, ‘very unsatisfied’ were ignored. As presumably were the contemptible ‘don’t know’ contingent.

Part of the ippr’s grand scheme of recommendations is that the government should “Support local schemes through Transport Innovation Funds and public transport governance reform”. Dizzy has looked at this previously. It is notable that “The Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) will be used to tackle congestion and to improve productivity. The TIF will provide up to (my emphasis) £200m per year from 2008/09 until 2014/15 to support suitable demand management schemes developed by local authorities”. £200m? That’s what setting up the London scheme cost, and this figure is supposed to cover Tyne & Wear, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, the East Midlands cities and Bath/Bristol. And five other smaller places….

This, however, is my favourite recommendation: “Establish a new national stakeholder group, with an independent chair, of experts, special interest groups and critical friends to address public concerns”. So, six figure salaries, bloated expense accounts and junkets all round for Labour party sympathisers, topped off with peerages and knighthoods a few years down the line.

My own position on road pricing is that I might consider it worth debating with preliminaries of the data collected being wholly anonymous and fuel duty etc being scrapped.

Over to you.


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Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:51 pm

I believe in toll roads as long as there is an alternative. People who want to get somewhere fast on an uncluttered highway should have the option of paying for that privilege.

Tolls for crossing bridges are very tiny, so I don't mind them.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:14 pm

Verity how is this for typical messed up socialist thinking.
Livingstone has tried to price people off the roads to encourage them to use public transport, now all well and good you may think , this where the genius comes in , as this has been seccessful and more people are using public transport , suprise suprise public transport is now congested at peak times, the solution?
price people off public transport at peak times !
How are people supposed to get to work without the benefit of a taxpayer funded taxi/car?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:24 pm

Well I bloody well don’t, excuse me Verity , as you rightly say C this will be additional to the other taxes making us the highest taxed drivers in the world or thereabouts . I suppose Verity`s stipulation is such that it wouldn’t happen at all so she is in effect on the side of the good here .Is this shockingly left wing or is she thinking of the opportunity to buy speed ?Works in France but we do not have the space and this is not the plan

Toll roads to cure congestion
1 If its to congested don’t take the car , congestion cures congestion. It can only has the effect of making it better for rich people and it will be yet another regressive tax to shove down the gullet of the poor to middling
Tolls do not cure congestion
See the ineffectiveness of the congestion charge . It is of course not the intention

On your nmore general point C about the use of public money for propaganda this has been slithering quietly into the living room for year and years . Seat belts , smoking are perhaps trivial examples but every quango adds to the volume . The greatest of all is the BBC

Leave drivers alone . If you want to tackle Green issues tax breaks and removing VAT would transform the situation.Congestion is not a problem.It is a fact in a crowded Island

Great post C  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:58 pm

Glad to see you have returned to coherence Mr Mania (+:  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:13 pm

Toll charges work in Texas. What they did in Dallas was build a new freeway running parallel to the old, more congested freeway. People who wanted to get home fast paid the toll on the new freeway. People who couldn't afford it or weren't in a particular hurry took the old, free freeway. And the toll road paid for itself over X number of years, of course,so the taxpayer was not out one dime.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 9:38 pm

V - I'm entirely happy with that sort of set up, and only a fool would not be. However, this rabble has no intention of building any major new roads....  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:40 pm

william it is just about as likely as an FSB assasin flying from moscow to london on a BA flight with a radioactive substance that only emits alpha rays (can be stopped by a brown paper bag) to comomit a murder and leaving radioactives traces on said flight.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:41 pm

*Note to self*
remember to read before posting  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:47 pm

I that true PHITCH?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:47 pm

I mean , is that true ?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:54 pm

That would rely on credulity being about as elastic as, erm, a rubber band?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:04 pm

Also, people switched between freeways depending on their schedule. If you were going to the mall on a Saturday afternoon, you didn't take the toll road. If you had a flight to catch, you did. It was a convenience.

They had a clever way of financing it in Malaysia, too. Their national highway to Singapore was a toll-highway, but here is where the cleverness came in. For a specific number of years, the tolls went to publicly-listed companies that had put up the financing. When those years were up, ownership of the highway - and tolls - reverted to the Malaysian government. I've travelled on it and it is an excellent, well-maintained highway.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:22 pm

the BA stuff newmania?
if so yes
all true
Journalists tend to be stupid and lazy
probably explains why 8 newspapers fell for that baby elephant/dolphin in the womb bollocks last week
It was a hoax, haven't seen any apologies have you?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:29 pm

Just to clarify newmania
That is the spun story, but it isn't true. Cant see our Mr putin topping up his BA frequent flyer points by sending his hired killers via BA, can you?
That and smearing isotopes all over a BA 767
No doubt it will go down well in the The Sun .  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:31 pm

What's your educated take on this then, PHitch?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:45 pm

It was a hoax, haven't seen any apologies have you?

Seriously ?That was all a hoax , I `m astonished , I must have read it five or six times . Amazing. I am not going to listen to PHitch anymore. I `ll end up believing nothing .

Tolls are just taxes here Verity but if we actually get Broon I can`t see me hanging around to pay them.I daresay your cat lives in better conditions than we do.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:03 am

What's your educated take on this then, PHitch
Sarcasm Verity?
As you ask, the man was killed as part of a plot to get at Putin.
I am no fan of Putin and don't doubt for one second that if it suited him he (putin) wouldn't have personally tagged the troublesome Mr Litvinenko with his bare hands, but where was the benefit?
As always "follow the money"  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:07 am

the "elephant was made by a sfx co. called Artem
as were the other "foetuses"
The elephant "foetus" was used in the film of the Da Vinci code.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:09 am

I'm probably a great deal more trusting/gullible (delete as appropriate) than Peter, but 'follow the money' is a solid piece of advice. Or cui bono, getting all classical..  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:14 am

Yes, PHitch, my cats (two) live nice lives, their freedom to move freely unabridged. Walls to lie on for the breeze. The shade of the mango tree at noon. All free. Move around with no speed cameras. If any other cat or dog invades their space, they are free to kill that individual if they choose to give it a whirl and can pull it off. They're legal immigrants, not "asylum seekers", with all their papers on record, so they stand no risk of being chucked out - but as neither do the "asylum seekers" in Britain who wreck taxpayer funded property without negative consequences, this advantage is neutralised.

But no cameras record their movements as they go about their cat lives.

Yes, I think they're better off than the shackled citizens of formerly free Britain.

PHitch, if the tolls are not returned to the investors who built the roads, or in some legitimate deal with the government, then that's outrageous. Toll roads are supposed to benefit everyone, including the capitalists who invested in them of their own free will, not extortion. This, as the readers of this blog know, is how things work.

Britain's a communist country with better refrigerators and more cars than those in the USSR endured. I cannot believe only 3m of us have left.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:42 am

Being one of Verity's cats doesn't sound a bad gig.

I think "Britain's a communist country with better refrigerators and more cars than those in the USSR" is up there with "Upper Volta with rockets".  

Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 9:08 am

taxing petrol more would save us all trouble  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:01 am

RM. You are probably right, and if truth be told, petrol in urban areas is probably more expensive than elsewhere, because of land values etc etc. Do any drivers want to disabuse me of this notion?  

Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 11:45 am

bizzarrely,petrol seems to get more expensive as you go north or awy from the big ports.so my aunty says.she lives in hampshire.It justs cracks me up though all this stuff about road tax etc.you want to charge people for the road they use-tax petrol.same in urban areas as people use more fuel in low gears.

It just seems such an inefficient way to collect tax but then I suppose it's one of the big employers in swansea  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:21 pm

How about not taxing it?
roads are infrastructure and should be paid for centraly.
All you are doing by taxing petrol is giving work to tax collectors.
look at the tax crdit fiasco , they take money off you then emlpoy people to gie you back your ow money.
Heres an idea , dont take it off the low paid in the first place and save the salaries and pensions of all those pen pushers  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 9:55 pm

I've long been a proponent of not taxing low earners. It's ridiculous. Those people need every single penny they earn.  

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