28 Nov 2011.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Transport Secretary Must Amend Highway Proposals
ABD Sees Potential for Highway Robbery in The Cook Report
While everyone's attention is on the damage caused by high fuel prices, a little-publicised report slipped out (known as 'the Cook Report' 1). Although it has some interesting, and possibly useful proposals, to solve the problem of consistent under investment in Britain's roads over many years, it also contains some Trojan horses. For example, it effectively proposes that some new major roads in England might be paid for by tolls, and to ensure these are viable, that road pricing may also be imposed on existing major roads.

It can even be read as suggesting that our local roads are brought under similar control, ultimately forcing drivers to travel on tolled roads everywhere, in line with a 'Euro vision'. 2

Association of British Drivers' chairman Brian Gregory responded:
“The report's author seems to have a short memory. It's only a few years since nearly 2 million people signed the famous petition against national road pricing. The public is massively against it, but it seems that some people won't listen.

Britain's drivers already pay through the nose — roughly £50 billion each year in taxes in return for about £8 billion in roads investment. Investment in relieving our congested roads has been paid for several times in advance. When families everywhere are feeling the pinch on motoring costs, there is absolutely no case for adding to our tax burden.

The Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, says she will study the full report before commenting. I am pleased to see that she has previously stood up for the travelling public and saw off the threat of rip-off charges for vehicles using Heathrow airport. 3 4 She has recognised the need to put the interest of road users first. These proposals are nothing less than 'highway robbery' and she must reject them outright.”

1. The 'independent' report by Highways Agency Chairman Alan Cook is called 'A fresh start for the Strategic Road Network'
2. See [1], p66, p75.
By coincidence, European Commission proposals (COM(2011)144 and COM(2008)436 final) seek the gradual imposition of charges on all vehicles and on the whole road network.
3. In 2008, Justine Greening stood up to BAA, who wanted new charges to help pay for Heathrow expansion, They wanted to charge £20 for dropping off car passengers — on top of a daily parking fee of £20. They were also looking at a £3 'congestion charge' fee for lorries using roads around the airport — Daily Mail
4. In 2010, as Shadow Minister for London, she opposed the imposition of parking charges in two local parks.
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