Here we go again ...




    Oct 2003
    What is it about this government?  Do they have a pathological hatred of the motor car?  Do they think they can do anything and just call it ‘environmental measures’?  So what is the latest crackpot scheme that their thinktanks have come up with?  In the first place they are implementing tolls on motorways in the very near future to try and reduce congestion.  So what will happen – people who don’t want to pay the toll will avoid those roads.  A success you might think as it reduces congestion on the toll motorway.  But, and here we see the real reason for it,  they are considering charging on all roads – even quiet country roads that aren’t congested.  So it isn’t to reduce congestion, it’s to fleece the poor bloody motorist yet again.

    A year ago news was leaked of a radical plan commissioned by Darling Alistair (who clearly hates cars as much as Ken Livingstone) to deal with congestion in London and the South East.  But the authors of the report go even further and want to charge every car for every mile on every road across the country from 2011 – and that is only 8 years away.  Obviously each car would have to be fitted with electronic gizmos so they can be tracked.  Obviously no cars have these fitted at the moment and many wouldn’t have them fitted by then. Problem?  Not to this bunch of lawyers who ‘run’ (for ‘run’ read ‘destroy’) the country – the solution is simple . Create another law.  Yet another stick with which the police can beat the hapless motorist (and I’ll have more to say about that later in a forthcoming 'rant').

    Is this measure to beat congestion?  Excuse my cynicism but with this bunch of highwaymen in control I fear it is just another measure to raise coffers for the fattest cats of all who as well as creating mounds of red tape and new regulations along with armies of useless bureaucrats to deal with it, stick their snouts ever deeper into the trough.

    So what will it cost?  A year ago they were talking of an average of 10.5p per mile at normal times to 14p (0r even 20p) per mile at rush hour on the most congested roads.  So why, if this came out a year ago, am I writing now?  Well, I had intended to start this ‘rants’ column and when this ‘pay-to-drive’ tax hit the news again this week, I felt the time was right because the figures have fallen – now they are talking about an average of 16p per mile in cities and 1.6p per mile in the country, so I see this is part of the softening up process. 1-6 p per mile doesn’t sound too  bad does it (if you say it quickly) but it will soon mount up and, I’m sure you’ve seen it too, it will very soon rise above the rate of inflation.  Doing a quick calculation we can see that a city driver doing 10,000 miles per year would spend £1600 more in motoring tax.  Someone using only country roads would pay £160 more.  But who only uses those roads?  What are the fees for the motorways?  And can’t they see how this will hit business? 

    Life is faster now than it used to be.  Let’s face it – public transport is still totally and utterly crap.  Planning a  number of important journeys by public transport could tax the best military planners and takes you twice as long (and can cost more).  The car is central to our lives and our way of life.  If you live in the country you cannot exist without a car, even less so if you have anyone ill or elderly to look after.  

    Let me leave you with some figures – the reports authors say that a token charge could be levied on rural roads at the dead of night (big deal) – but then by the same token they can rack the charge up if there is congestion.  The figure of £1.50 per mile has been mentioned. Ouch – to be charged £1.50 per mile for the benefit of sitting in a traffic jam!  If this were to get off the ground it has the potential to raise £16 billion  per year.  A massive 57% more than we would pay in fuel duty and VAT.  And I don’t believe for one minute that these funds would provide us with a state of the art public transport system that works!

    We will  all be worse off if this ridiculous idea gets off the ground.  Only the wealthy (and that will include politicians) will be able to afford to drive, prices of all  goods will increase  - which of course will mean yet more income for the government through VAT).  I foresee ructions …

    This article also appeared on


  Last Updated: October 19th 2003