|London, 15 Sep 1999.
For immediate release.
Instead of providing the modern, efficient network of roads and railways that our country so badly needs, all we have is a succession of negative measures aimed at making life difficult for car drivers.
"The ABD repeatedly predicted this outcome," says Chairman, Brian Gregory. "The policy was drafted by a team of nine so called experts who were all either virulently anti car in their outlook or who had a vested interest in an easy life for public transport organisations and their employees. With such an unbalanced team calling the shots, a dismal catalogue of obstruction, expense and inconvenience for drivers was guaranteed."
Since 1997, we have already been subjected to:
This is only the beginning. Despite the chaos and anger created by the M4 bus lane, many more are planned on other motorways. More speed limits which are completely unjustified in safety terms are introduced daily. More roadspace reduction initiatives are planned. Road tolls, both in town and on motorways are coming ever closer, as are workplace parking taxes.
"All of this has been brought in without any significant increase in investment in public transport, which remains wholly inadequate to meet the needs of all but a small minority of the travelling public," continues Gregory. "The rail system simply does not have the capacity to cope with existing demand, but the real problem lies in the mentality of those in control of a so called integrated transport policy which seeks only to forcibly exclude the most popular mode of transport - the car."
It is time for major re-think, based around the philosophy that the public, who pay £35bn in motoring taxes, have a right to choose the best mode of transport for any given journey, and that the job of the Government is to provide a choice between genuine alternatives rather than the lesser of two evils.
So who were the gang of nine Integrated Transport Policy "Experts" who have saddled us with these unworkable proposals? They comprised five academics, all well known for their openly anti car ideology, and four representatives of industries with everything to gain from clearing private motorists from the road. It is scandalous that these people were allowed unchallenged power to advise inexperienced Government Ministers on policy.
Here they are:
1. Phil Goodwin (Chairman).
A professor at London University, he practices what he preaches and uses public transport. Hardly difficult when your life revolves around academic institutions and Government offices, located in city centres with good transport links. Whilst at Oxford University's Transport Studies Unit in 1994 he co-authored a report claiming that roads generate traffic, and therefore no more should be built. Consequently, removing roadspace from cars must reduce traffic and is therefore a good thing!
What Prof. Goodwin fails to realise is that the traffic on these new roads reflects huge growth in both the local and national economy and massive improvements in quality of life for people whose choices and opportunities have been transformed by their construction. Where there is congestion, it has happened principally for two reasons:
Planning of housing and workplaces has taken no account of transport needs - vast housing estates have been built in small towns and villages where there is no work, whilst office and industrial development has been allowed to mushroom where nobody lives. This is what is driving congestion, and it is still going on with a vengeance. These new developments have been constructed without any parallel investment in public transport infrastructure - they are inaccessible and the journey patterns of their users do not lend themselves to efficient mass transit systems.
Prof. Goodwinís negative solution - make it more difficult, time consuming and expensive to get to work by car and impossible to park on arrival - is simply a recipe for ruin and misery.
The ABDís positive solution -
Work towards a position whereby as many people as possible can live very near their workplace should they choose to do so. Invest in new roads and/or new mass transit systems where this is not possible. Encourage the use of new technology to make as many journeys as possible simply unnecessary.
The tragedy is that a blueprint for this type of solution already exists - none other than Londonís Docklands where most of our newspapers are now produced! Perhaps this is why the media were so reluctant to expose the threat to the welfare of the British people posed by the ITP - they were smack bang in the middle of the only real integrated transport area in the country!
2. David Begg
At the time, Mr Begg was an Edinburgh City councillor and is now a Professor of Robert Gordon University. He stated on the "Today" programme on 14th October 1997 that it is not enough just to have good public transport, there must be major restrictions and financial penalties on the use of private cars.
He has made himself one of the most hated men in Scotland with his schemes in to obstruct drivers in Edinburgh. He created the first development where residents are banned from owning cars, but his speciality is designing bus lanes which are as obstructive as possible for the traffic not permitted to use them. This involves continuing the bus lane right up to traffic lights so that only one lane of cars can cross, even when there are no buses, and building traffic islands next to bus stops so that it is impossible to pass the bus when it stops for passengers.
3. Carmen Hass-Klau, Professor of the University of Wuppertal.
Credited with coining the phrase "traffic calming" she is obviously an expert in double-speak, and well used to creating policy which achieves the exact opposite to what is intended. After all, there was no road rage until there was traffic calming. She also has links to Friends of the Earth, having published "An Illustrated Guide to Traffic Calming : the future way of managing traffic." London : Friends of the Earth, .
4. Stephen Joseph, Executive Director of Transport 2000.
This organisation is vehemently anti-car. It supports cuts in the roads programme which lead to the deaths of innocent motorists on Britain's disgracefully inadequate network. It has links with those responsible for "direct action" (vandalism and trespass) to delay and seek to prevent much-needed road building projects. It opposes by-passes around rural villages, seeking instead to further reduce the quality of life for through traffic and residents alike by introducing "traffic calming" obstructions. It has spawned a number of organisations, one of which is the extreme "Slower Speeds Initiative" which seeks to inflame local residents with unnecessary fears about passing traffic.
5. Dr Susan Owens, Lecturer in Geography from the University of Cambridge.
Susan Owens' interests are in environmental issues and policies in developed economies. She holds a B.Sc. and Ph.D. from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. Her research focuses on environmental policy processes and on theoretical and policy aspects of land use planning and environmental sustainability. She is a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and a former member of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development - an organisation that assumes car use is "unsustainable" in all its thinking.
She lives one mile from the centre of Cambridge and 1.5m from the faculty HQ - another cloistered academic living a very pleasant life within easy walking and cycling distance of everything she needs. Most people are not so fortunate.
6. Joyce Mamode of the Transport and General Workers Union.
She is representing the transport trades unions. Whilst it is not unreasonable for those who work in public transport to be represented, it should be remembered that massive losses posted year after year by British Rail, the loss of much freight business to the roads and the complete lack of customer focus in the industry was due to its being run primarily for the benefit of the employees.
7. Charles Rice, Managing Director, P&O Transeuropean Holdings Ltd.
At last, someone who has actually made a positive contribution to the economy. He has managed P&O's transport and distribution business across the UK and Europe with turnover approaching £1bn. However his interest is clearly that of a commercial heavy goods operator so he may, like RHA Chairman, Steve Norris, have been susceptible to the argument that cars should be penalised to clear the way for trucks. Either way, he would not be actively representing the interests of the private motorist.
8. Michael Roberts of the CBI
Michael Roberts is Head of CBI's Industrial Policy Group, where issues covered include transport policy, the private finance initiative, energy policy, and regional policy. Like Charles Rice, his focus is likely to be on commercial use of the roads.
9. Bill Tyson, head of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive.
Closely involved with the Metrolink tram system, a supposedly privately funded public transport system, Mr Tyson remarked at its handover to the operators that government support would be essential, "Additional cash would be nice," he said. As would measures to make car use impossible, forcing reluctant customers into his arms, to be sure.
This team was supposed to "provide independent advice on how best to define, implement, organise and fund successful and practical integrated transport strategies" according to the government press release. With the ideological baggage or vested interests that they carry, it is hardly surprising that they simply proposed a whole raft of negative, anti-car and anti-roads measures.
The ABD calls for the re-constitution of this coterie to reflect road user groups, and a complete ground-up re-think of the integrated transport policy, which recognises the undeniable advantages of the car in an inclusive strategy which will get Britain moving again.