|London, 22 July 1999.
For immediate release.
One year after the publication of the ITP, the Government is foundering as it begins to realise the depth of opposition to the anti-car measures that made up so much of the White Paper.
The ITP has contributed towards making the average car user £1,300 poorer whilst failing to meet the needs of drivers, public transport users and the economy - says The Association of British Drivers.
A year after the ITP's launch, drivers are paying more tax than ever before, roads are failing, and public transport remains "expensive, unreliable and inconvenient" (The Audit Commission, All Aboard - a review of public transport).
For every £10 spent on fuel, £8.50 is taken in tax. The Treasury generates nearly £33 billion from drivers, yet the Government plans to raise taxes on drivers still further under John Prescott's integrated transport plans.
"There are no winners except the Treasury under Labour's transport policy", states Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD's Roads and Traffic Spokesman. "The ITP seems to consist of taxing drivers out of their cars onto a public transport system that cannot even begin to do the job."
He continues: "This 'Tax and Buses' approach means poorer drivers are face with a stark choice: find the extra money or don't travel at all. That means less freedom to travel for work, travel for leisure and to see families and friends."
As travel becomes harder the less competitive the UK economy becomes. People's mobility for jobs is becoming more seriously restricted with every new tax plan and restriction on drivers. It is no coincidence that great differences in house prices are opening up as driving costs and restrictions on drivers grow, and people become desparate for homes near their place of work.
Although the Government takes £33 billion a year from drivers, less than 5% is re-invested in roads, and no more than 20% in transport as a whole. The UK has some of the most poorly maintained, least comprehensive roads in Europe.
"France has built more motorways in the last 5 years than Britain has in the last 45", states McArthur-Christie. "Without proper investment and fewer taxes on drivers we are in serious danger of losing the competitive advantage we have achieved over our EU rivals and becoming, once again, the sick man of Europe."
Despite the fact that British drivers bear the highest tax burden in Europe, mobility taxes are set to rise further. Labour's plans include motorway taxes, town driving taxes, workplace parking taxes and even taxes for owning a car in a town. "It is time for the government to look at innovative and positive solutions to the transport problem, not simply treating drivers wallets as public property and cars as cashpoints on wheels" argues McArthur-Christie.
The ABD advocates properly integrated transport - with the car as an equal partner, but stresses that the choice of how to travel remains with travellers - not bureaucrats. Travellers are best placed to decide the most appropriate mode of transport for their journeys. Measures suggested by the ABD include incentives for companies to encourage teleworking and working from home, greater investment in integrated public transport and spending to be targeted on better roads.