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Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

October 22, 2009

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Dorchester, England – 32 days to go to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. UK Prime Minster, Gordon Brown, has commenced the UK Conference run-in with a ‘we’re all doomed’ statement more akin to the doom and gloom purveyed by fictional character Private James Frazer (played by the late great actor John Laurie) in the 1960’s TV series ‘Dads Army’.

Everything, according to Private Frazer, will turn into a disaster. If the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change’s £6m campaign on climate change and its possible effects is to be believed it will. Featuring a father telling his daughter a terrifying bedtime story about climate change, in which her cartoon dog later drowns in a rising sea level scenario, the campaign has become a focus for the usual English legion of moaners and whingers.

Yep climate change has certainly taken English whinging to new heights. We have 33 different campaign groups whinging about the installation of wind turbines. In one case in a location 18 miles (28km) off the coast. Campaign group membership restricted to those (a) with extremely powerful binoculars or (b) a boat!

It crossed my mind that all this whinging could be put to good use; turn a negative into a positive sort of thing. To that end I commissioned a Cambridge based engineering team to develop a device to turn whinging into a valuable and useful resource i.e. electricity. After considerable effort and substantial whinging I’m pleased to say that the team came by trumps and the Back Roads Rider rural idyll will shortly be wholly powered by whinge. Forget wind power its deffo whinge power from now on.

Back from my latest alien abduction to the real world then.

The report, The Road to Recovery, published by then independent think tank Reform a few days ago postulates on a system of charging rather than taxing in relation to road usage. Ok it’s a ‘think tank’ all blue sky and ex silo thinking, that won’t happen.

Well it’s ‘think tanks’ where politicians go to obtain ‘original ideas’ and this Reform thing could mean we get another take on good old road charging. Ok that maybe fine if we get the current road tax system removed and replaced by a charging scheme, be more expensive through unless we can get motorcycles and scooters zero rated, and what’s wrong with the old system? Besides the fact that most of the cash raised never goes near a road, well maybe an Afghan one.

But the Government has stated that we won’t have road charging. Right but in an open vote on 13 October at a Cambridgeshire County Council Full Council meeting, councillors voted to submit a £500M Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) bid in an attempt to reduce congestion in Cambridge.  Part of the TIF bid criteria means that a congestion charge can be introduced in Cambridge, not for 5 years but it’s there it is possible. Yes Cambs County Council have made statements that motorcycles and scooters will be exempted. But don’t take that for granted. Powers under the Transport act 2000 and the Local Transport Act 2008 don’t specify exceptions just allow them. Cambs could for instance charge all bikes over 50cc if they choose to do so.

Road charging has not gone away, Government, Councils need an income stream and it could be you.

Then there’s demand management, a transport planner’s fairytale for another time………………

© Back Roads Rider 2009

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    October 26, 2009 1:51 pm

    Transport policy will always have to end up at road charging to be seen to be doing something. ‘Public’ transport is unpleasant and expensive and not going to get any better, cycling is unpopular and not really an option for the majority of commuters, motorcycling will always remain of limited appeal and driving is the only other way of getting to work. So as transport policy currently forces people to drive so charging for road use is the only option. And again this will hit those who can least afford it hardest. Those who currently drive Rangerovers with personalised plates into the city centre are not going to be put of doing because it costs them and extra £100 a month. Those in a 10 year old Fiesta will be. But they’ll find the money from somewhere because theres is no real alternative. Perhaps they’ll not bother with insurance or servicing…

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