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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:36 
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As reported by the Telegraph

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Ministers are to perform a U-turn by shelving plans for a national road pricing scheme that would have cost motorists up to £1.30 a mile.

Leader: Some U-turns are good, Gordon Brown
Analysis: Public opinion forced common sense
Road to ruin: Telegraph campaign against road pricing
The Government has bowed to the groundswell of opposition which saw 1.8 million people back a Downing Street petition and a campaign by The Daily Telegraph calling for the proposals to be ditched.


The possibility of tracking every motorist's movements by satellite alarmed many


The sudden reversal on road pricing is the latest in a series of flagship policies advocated by Tony Blair to have been scrapped by Gordon Brown.

It follows the decision to abandon plans for a "super casino" and to review the current laws on cannabis and all-day drinking.

One senior Government source said national road pricing had fallen down the list of priorities – "it has been back burnered."

The retreat will be signalled by the Department for Transport this week in response to a back bench committee's report into the draft Local Transport Bill.

The Bill was seen as a staging post for a comprehensive scheme that would affect every driver.

This was made clear by Douglas Alexander, the former transport secretary, when he urged Cabinet colleagues to find a slot for the Bill in the last Queen's speech.

He wrote in August last year that it would "help to pave the way for a national road-pricing scheme in the medium to long term".

But next week MPs will be told by the DfT: "It is not the department's intention, at this stage, to take the separate powers needed to price the national road network."

The department will add: "We agree that there are congestion problems on parts of the strategic road network, but 88 per cent of congestion is in urban areas. Therefore it is sensible to prioritise the assessment of road pricing in these areas."

Peter Roberts, the campaigner who posted the petition on the Downing Street website, said he was delighted that the Government "listened to the voice of the people".

"I think it is a vindication of the 1.8 million who signed the petition," he said. "Without it the Government would have gone ahead. It is a good day for democracy."

The Tories seized on the decision as a sign that the Government had a lack of vision.

"This [road pricing] was their flagship policy and this is a dramatic U-turn," said Theresa Villiers, the party's transport spokesman.

"It shows a complete lack of direction. We have been urging them to scrap national road pricing for the last two years."

The new strategy – which is similar to proposals adopted by the Tories – will leave it to local authorities to decide whether they wish to introduce congestion busting schemes in their own areas.

This would apply even to areas containing local and national trunk roads. But even there the Government has run into trouble, with only Greater Manchester submitting a formal application to run a road pricing scheme.

The West Midlands, seen as another likely guinea pig, decided against drawing up a road pricing blueprint earlier this year.

The reversal of policy follows accusations that Labour has recently been stealing Conservative policies on inheritance tax, green taxes and "non-domiciled" UK residents. On Saturday, Andy Burnham, the chief secretary to the Treasury, proposed providing tax incentives for married couples, another Tory policy.

Plans for pay-as-you-drive road pricing were first drawn up by the Ministry of Transport in the 1960s. They were dusted off two years ago by Alistair Darling when he was transport secretary.

Warning that Britain faced gridlock, even if it built more roads, Mr Darling called for action to "manage demand".

But as details emerged of what road pricing entailed, public hostility grew.

The possibility of tracking every motorist's movements by satellite alarmed many privacy campaigners.

Shaken by the wave of hostility, the Government's position gradually shifted towards insisting that no final decision had been taken on a national scheme.

At the Labour conference, Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, said road pricing was "inevitable".

However, close friends swiftly stressed that she was still not committing the Government to a scheme involving the entire country.

In its response to the Transport Committee, the Government now appears to have killed off the possibility of a national scheme.

"This is very welcome," said John Spellar, a former Labour transport minister and vigorous opponent of road pricing.

There was a guarded welcome from AA Public Affairs. "I think there will be great relief from drivers," a spokesman said.

However, he said a network of local schemes could end with motorists paying more in some parts of the country without any reduction in fuel duty or car tax.


Quote:
There was a guarded welcome from AA Public Affairs.


:roll: Automobile Association my @rse...


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:20 
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Johnny - you beat me to it!

Excellent news. It would not have worked, and would only have made commuting even more expensive than it already is. How many people would sit on the M25 every day if there was an easy alternative? Not too many is my guess.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:37 
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Johnnytheboy wrote:
The department will add: "We agree that there are congestion problems on parts of the strategic road network, but 88 per cent of congestion is in urban areas. Therefore it is sensible to prioritise the assessment of road pricing in these areas."


I don't think it's an end to road pricing, they've just moved the goal post.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:30 
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Exactly. I notice not much has been made of Ken's intention to do the £25 a day for "most polluting" vehicles (is this 100% going in? has it already started?) simply because it has a green tag on it. It's still an increase in car charging, and local schemes, as the AA correctly guard against, could work out bloody expensive if you travel between cities regularly.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 18:44 
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Errrr.....so, road pricing has been scrapped ?
Hmmm
What about this then: http://www.publictenders.net/print.php?sid=27205


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 19:33 
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That's TfL's plan to fit speed limiters to all their buses, and is still going ahead as far as I know.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 23:46 
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MEN wrote:
Exclusive David Ottewell
11/10/2007

BUSINESSES in Greater Manchester raised fears last night they could be hit with a "double whammy" of congestion charging and a new tax.

Chancellor Alistair Darling revealed this week the government was pressing ahead with plans to let councils levy new supplementary business rates (SBRs) of up to 2p in the pound.

Unlike existing business rates - which go straight back to the Treasury - the "top-up tax" would be kept locally to pay for major projects that stimulate economic growth.

One leading think-tank has already suggested it could generate £40m a year in Greater Manchester - enough to finance a £600m government loan and pay for the full "Big Bang" expansion of Metrolink without the need for congestion charging.

Nigel Waddington, principle economic advisor to the Greater Manchester Chamber, gave a cautious welcome to the chancellor's announcement but warned businesses would want to have a say in how money raised was spent.

"There is also concern that, with the proposed introduction of congestion charging, businesses will be hit twice over the funding of infrastructure projects," he said. "These issues need to be addressed before any final decision is taken."

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) has submitted a bid for £1.2bn - plus permission to borrow £1.8bn - from the government's transport innovation fund (TIF). That would fund the expansion of Metrolink, plus major investment in bus and train services. The bid includes proposals for a peak-hour congestion charge of up to £5 a day.

A poll commissioned by AGMA showed only lukewarm support among business, with 47 per cent of employers backing the principle of road pricing in exchange for £3bn of transport improvements against 38 per cent who disagreed.

When the £5 figure was mentioned, only 41 per cent agreed, while 50 per cent disagreed.

Dr Waddington added: "No business wants to pay more tax, but in the past our members have told us that they are not opposed, in principle, to the introduction of a supplementary business rate.

Criticisms

"One of the criticisms of the current rating system is that businesses see no relation between what they pay and what they get in return.

"By introducing a `visible spend' element, a supplementary rating system would promote positive engagement between the business community and their local authority.

"However, if the proposed new system is to have the support of the business community, it is essential that they are locked into the local government process. It is particularly important to ensure that those businesses that will pay the supplement are able to vote on how it is spent."

Councils have long argued that business rates should be put on the same footing as council tax, which is both collected locally and then kept and spent locally.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council, said: "The intention of our TIF bid is to reduce the costs to businesses caused by congestion.

"These proposals [by Mr Darling] are no substitute for returning business rates to local control when we would have the option of lowering as well as increasing business rates.

"We will have to fully evaluate the implications of what is on offer."

What do you think? Have your say.



Does not quite sound like a U-turn to me if this is part of the equation. :roll:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 23:56 
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orange wrote:
That's TfL's plan to fit speed limiters to all their buses, and is still going ahead as far as I know.


Quote:
It is important that the system works across a wide range of vehicles such as cars, vans, buses and taxis


Quote:
Transport for London (TfL), as operators of a considerable fleet themselves, indicate that they want the kit for their own vehicles to begin with. However, "if the initial trial on TfL vehicles proves successful" they'd be looking to "promote the technology throughout London".



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 07:39 
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Allowing local councils to set their own business rates is a return to the bad situation in the past and must not be allowed to happen. As businesses cannot vote, the councils jack up the rates to balance smaller rises for voters. Left wing anti-business councils will deliberately punish "capitalists" for daring to employ people. Increased costs just get passed on to the customers.

The Government won't do it anyway. They like the control it gives them over councils.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 08:37 
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Ok so they moved away from a big bang to dribbling it out through local authorities who will be offered incentives for pilot schemes. I can see this being like controlled parking zones.

Secondly I don't think the govt. should be let off the hook for waisting 200M of public money investigating something that everyone knew would never work.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:55 
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Quote:
Transport for London (TfL), as operators of a considerable fleet themselves, indicate that they want the kit for their own vehicles to begin with. However, "if the initial trial on TfL vehicles proves successful" they'd be looking to "promote the technology throughout London".


What are the criteria for success or failure, ahead of the test? This goes all the way back to Yes Minister again, but that is the only thing we really need to know.


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