Congestion Charging Makes Crash Gordon Look Popular
Time to Abandon Road Pricing Concept, says ABD
Beleagured Prime Minister Gordon Brown has only collected 60,000 signatures on the 10 Downing St. Petition 1
asking him to resign — compared with the 1.8 million who signed against Road Pricing in 2007. 2
"It may provide a crumb of comfort to Gordon Brown that road pricing is 36 times more unpopular than his premiership", said the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "But it's a disaster for his team of transport advisers, who appear to be wedded to the concept in the face of unparalleled public hostility."
Although plans for a national road pricing scheme were put on the back burner following the petition, the government has been twisting the arm of local authorities by offering transport investment in exchange for city based charging schemes.
In Manchester, voters in the 2008 referendum were told there was "no plan B" for transport investment should they reject road pricing plans for the city. Reject them they did, by an overwhelming majority, and within a few months an alternative transport plan has been produced, providing £1.4bn for the tram extension which was supposed to be impossible without road pricing . 3
In Cambridge 4
, the latest city to pick up the poison chalice, the ABD has slated plans for a congestion charge on the grounds that traffic levels in the city are already in freefall — just as they were in Manchester and in most other British cities.
"When will they get the message that road pricing is not wanted?" said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "It's an unfair, regressive tax on necessary car journeys, it harms local businesses and it works against urban renewal programmes by encouraging people to live, work and shop away from city centres."
Road pricing is not necessary, nor is it financially viable — it is part of a political policy designed to penalise drivers and force them off the road, one step at a time. Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, described congestion charging on essential car journeys as 'morally corrupt' at the 2009 Birmingham Transport Summit. Thankfully, the concept is dead and buried in the West Midlands. Surely it is time to abandon it nationally and get back to building a competitive infrastructure for the UK?