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Road pricing

Richmond won’t tell the whole story

Can you afford to live in Richmond?This morning the Radio 4 Today programme is reporting on Richmond’s consultation on their idea of trebling residents’ parking permit charges on large vehicles such as Renault Espace people movers to £300.

Just under half (49%) of people were said to be in favour with 39% against, see press release. The council is pleased that 64% of people said that the plans would make them think about changing their vehicle to a less polluting model.

Being a LibDem council they can’t help telling porkies though. The Today programme is reporting this morning that residents rejected a proposal to surcharge second permits by 50%. Funny how this is not mentioned in their press release and the consultation results are not available on the website. So democracy is only any use when it returns the “right” answer. Ken Livingstone has said that he really likes this proposal. We know from bitter experience with the Tram he also approves of Richmond’s attitude to consultation – talk about it if the result agrees with your position otherwise ignore it.

So in addition to labouring under the second highest council tax in London the owner of a Renault Espace in Richmond will have to pay £300 to park outside their own house. Apparently this will all come to pass in 3 months time.

Electric cars will be exempted from any charge at all. This is just scientific mumbo-jumbo as it uses way more carbon to burn fuel, turn it into electricity, lose a chunk in transmission losses, lose another chunk in charging a battery, lose another chunk in converting electricity to motion than it does to burn petrol in an incredibly efficient internal combustion engine. For the same reason that trams are an environmental swindle, so are electric cars.

Follow the link to see their consultation document.

2 replies on “Richmond won’t tell the whole story”

Taxes that other people pay are always popular in the ‘caring’ New Labour / Lib Dem world. All this tells us is that not many Richmond residents have large vehicles but quite a lot have second cars.

Same applies to the congestion charge – impose it across London and there would be an outcry, but limit it to the centre where a wealthy minority live and that’s OK…

Consultation: I once heard Ken Livingstone say “it was a consultation, not a referendum” after 70% of respondents polled against a transport proposal and he went ahead regardless. That’s pretty sharp as sound-bites go and says all one needs to know about power and elected representatives. But once elected, one should be led by manifesto, not free to explore with a wandering hand. The legal concept of ultra vires being applied to manifestos might help, but it’s doubtful.

Parking Tax: Every tax, at every level, is yield-managed. In the way that airlines and hotels charge as much as they can for each aspect of service when possible – local government, Inland Revenue, Customs, and all other tax-raisers charge as much as they can for whatever you need that they control, (or in the case of income tax, as much as they can before you take ‘legal’ avoidance measures). Of course the tax-raisers enjoy a monopoly position, whereas airlines and hotels are restricted in their ambition by competition. Further restrictions are the Monopolies Commission, and Competition Commission and various regulators Oftel, Ofwat etc who control abuses – except by tax-raisers. This is for voters. Yield-managed taxes are about stretching voters to the point just before which – as a group – they take action. Voting – a tiny and fleetingly offered distraction, carefully timed to offers few options and no control. More direct actions like a Boston tea-party, or a poll tax riot are generally illegal, and this is why Americans are still allowed to carry guns. They retain the dubious right to collectively resist their government, then vote among themselves with bullets. This is known as modern democracy, and like Royal Assent and the nuclear deterrent, works so-long as nobody actually uses it.

Electric cars: They are not, in general opinion, as polluting end-to-end as ones powered by petrol, but this is not the reason why they are exempt from parking tax. They are exempt for the simple reason that no-one has them. If everyone had electric cars then every council would tax them, and will. You can run your diesel car on spent chip-fat, but when people saw that new fat worked just as well, HM Customs put a special tax on chip oil used for motor fuel; so anyone who thinks electric vehicles charged from a garden turbine will remain cheaper to run than petrol ones needs to look at history, if you do so you are ‘avoiding tax’ and the only reason you ‘get away with it’ is that so few bother with turbines.

“Congestion charge – impose it across London and there would be an outcry, but limit it to the centre where a wealthy minority live and that’s OK” – well no. It’ll creep. Traffic wardens, when introduced by Westminster, were very novel, but they were judged “necessary” in a busy borough. Last year I had a ticket for having my car 4 inches onto the dropped kerb outside my home. They stopped at 7PM Friday evening – I’d put it on the dropped drive slightly to avoid passing buses who often knock our cars. The warden explained the car was obstructing the pavement – naturally ignoring the tree “obstructing” the pavement by another 2 feet immediately adjacent to the car. I paid the ticket immediately, I’ve appealed them before and it’s an exercise in futility.

I don’t believe taxes are enforced this way against fiery American voters. We are far too phlegmatic and always cough up.

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