Categories
Road pricing

Manchester rejects Congestion Charge – resoundingly

According the Manchester Evening News:

THE PEOPLE have spoken – and Greater Manchester will NOT be getting a congestion charge.

Voters have overwhelmingly rejected the scheme by a majority of almost four to one in a region-wide referendum.

The ‘No’ vote won a clear majority in all ten local authority areas and delivered a crushing blow to the plan to invest billions of pounds in the region’s public transport infrastructure.

Across all ten boroughs a total of 812,815 (78.8 per cent) voted ‘no’, while just 218,860 (21.2 per cent) voted ‘yes’ to the proposals.

This constitutes a total humilation for those trying to promote the scheme. Shockingly the local public transport monopoly called GMPTE, who are a public body and who transparently have an interest, tried to use public money (£230K provided by DfT) to promote a yes vote until they were stopped from airing their TV ad by Ofcom, see here.

The BBC in its coverage can’t quite admit the extent to which the proles have rejected the mindset that it promotes so assiduously. As a result in their coverage they simply ignored the fact that 80% of people voted no and wittered on about the turnout, see here.

Update: The BBC changed this page at 14:04pm today to include the voter numbers and to reorder the quotes.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Road pricing

Standard says Rush-hour slower thanks to CC

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Tonight the Evening Standard is reporting new results from measurements of London traffic speeds that show that traffic is now slower than it was before the Congestion Charge came into force.

I have tried checking this story but TfL don’t have anything obvious on their website and the Standard don’t condescend to give any links or references.

Categories
Road pricing

Road pricing “back-burnered”

The Telegraph is reporting today that road pricing has been kicked into the long grass or “back-burnered”. This is good news and a welcome outbreak of common sense.

If you think in terms of sticks and carrots then by the time 70p in every pound spent on petrol is going to the state you have got to figure that the stick has been used enough. For all kinds of reasons we need to get out of our cars and use them less and have greener cars in the first place. The government should focus on carrots: investment in cycle routes, VAT free small cars and public transport that delivers safe and comfortable with short door-to-door times.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Road pricing

Changing minds – Part 2

Today the BBC London News team has updated their webpage titled “Where has the money gone?” which talks about the Congestion Charge and its benefits.

The misleading opening line remains:

When the congestion charge was introduced in 2003 TFL estimated it would raise £130 million a year and lower sufficient fuel emissions to make London a more pleasant environment.

It seems strange to repeat an estimate from the start of the scheme when actual (much worse) figures are available in TfL’s statement of accounts published since then.

Further down the piece the bald fact: “Last year £122 million was raised” has been qualified thus: “Last year, TfL claims £122 million was raised”.

In addition BBC London News have added some balancing comments from me:

Conservative councillor Phil Taylor challenge’s TfL’s assertion that congestion charging is generating substantial surpluses. He says: “TfL’s own statement of accounts show that the cumulative surplus generated from the start of the scheme until the end of the last financial year was only £189.7 million.

“This amount has barely covered the original scheme’s set up costs of £161.7 million. Pretty much all of the £677.4 million collected in the first three and a bit years of operation of the scheme has been spent on out of control set up and running costs.”

The message that the Congestion Charge has been a financial disaster is getting out there.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Road pricing

Changing minds

Reading Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times today I was pleased to find that he has modified his views about the London Congestion Charge. He said:

This week he [the London Mayor] extends his West End congestion charge deep into Tory Kensington and Chelsea and plans to up the daily rate to £25 for gas-guzzlers. While he has paid lip service to “consultation”, he has disregarded virulent opposition and gone ahead anyway. London’s congestion charge may have had a modest impact on congestion (chaotic road repairs render statistics meaningless) and has proved an expensive way of collecting taxes, but some version of it is being studied by every major world city. In some shape or form it is here for keeps.

Back in December (ST 3rd December) commenting on Sir Rod Eddington’s Treasury transport review Jenkins said:

As always, the crucial innovation came from local government, in this case London. Breaking every promise about the congestion charge, Ken Livingstone is turning the levy into a flexible charge that can be aimed at gas-guzzlers and articulated lorries. Whitehall has been forced to admit it has worked. Eddington calculates that some £24 billion in revenue is available from this source, which can only be levied by local government. Here is scope for a revolution in local finance. An idea’s time has come.

Effectively he not only endorsed the London CC but even implied it might lead to a revolution in local government finance.

Why the change in tone you ask? Instead of golden goose suddenly the Congestion Charge is “an expensive way of collecting taxes”. Could it be that he got an e-mail from yours truly pointing out the real economics of the Congestion Charge? In December he acknowledged my e-mail saying:

Many thanks for your e-mail and your most pertinent remarks about the congestion charge. My point is merely that such charges can reduce mobility, as in my experience they have done. I was in favour of a supplementary licence system rather than anything that has to do with a computer!

It seems Jenkins thinks that the Congestion Charge is OK even if it generates no surplus but at least he is prepared to accept the facts and has modified his opinions and what he writes accordingly.

You might think from my coverage of the London Congestion Charge and the road pricing petition that I am violently against all forms of road pricing. Funnily enough I am not.

My real problem with the Congestion Charge is that it has been so badly run that TfL can take £8 a day off you and just waste it. If the CC or any other road pricing scheme produced significant net revenue that could be used to improve public transport, reduce fares or reduce taxes then I could be convinced. One problem with public transport is that often, like with the CC, costs are allowed to get totally out of control. If you look at TfL’s last Statement of Accounts you will find that last year its costs exceeded its income by £2.0 billion. Until these public bodies get smarter with cash they simply can’t be trusted to take more on.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Public sector waste Road pricing

The Congestion Charge has all been wasted

Today is the London Congestion Charge’s 4th birthday. The Conservative Home website has published an article from me that shows how pretty much all of the £927 million collected over the four years has been wasted on out of control costs.

Categories
Road pricing

Road pricing petition passes 1.5 million mark

Checking Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing this morning I find that it has just passed the 1.5 million mark. At 8:18 this morning it stood at 1,501,634.

The petition has been propelled by extensive coverage across radio, newspapers and blogs. There are some people that try to write off 1.5 million people going through a pretty long process as a few people clicking on a website. For instance, Peter Riddell in the Times on Tuesday:

It is obviously significant that more than 1.5 million people marched against the Iraq war four years ago and almost 1.2 million have signed the petition against the planned vehicle tracking and road-pricing policy. It shows that a large number of people care and, in the case of the petition, how effective the motoring lobby is.

The numbers reflect particular interests. By definition, they cannot represent the broader public interest. These protests are populist, not democratic: only some people are being heard. Government and Parliament exist to reconcile divergent interests. When the Government rejects them, however, it appears to be ignoring the popular will; witness the alliance of The Mail on Sunday proclaiming “How many people have to sign a petition before this Government takes notice?” and Henry Porter in The Observer giving warning of “road rage like never before” if the Government snubs the petition.

Perhaps Riddell should have a look at another petition on the Number 10 e-petitions site. It read “Don’t Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy” and has garnered 1,835 signatures. Perhaps Riddell should work out which bit of no he doesn’t understand.

Peter Roberts (copied from Telegraph)Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.

Get clicking and signing if you want to avoid paying another tax and having your movements traced by the state.

Categories
Road pricing

Road pricing petition given another boost by the Today programme

Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing got top billing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. The flagship 8:10am interview saw Transport Minister Douglas Alexander well and truly wriggling, follow link. I had a couple of comments on my blog today suggesting the site had been closed down at this time but I am quite prepared to believe that it has just been overwhlemed by volumes. The petition hit the million mark around 10am on Saturday and had put on another 100,000 by early this morning. During the course of the morning another 50,000 have signed up.

Peter Roberts (copied from Telegraph)Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.

Get clicking and signing if you want to avoid paying another tax and having your movements traced by the state.

Categories
Road pricing

No 10 road pricing petition to hit million

Just before 9am today the No 10 road pricing petition stood at 996,192. Towards the end of January it looked like the petition was running out of steam and would top out at the 600,000 mark. Since then it has got it has got its legs back.

The Telegraph and its motoring correspondent, David Millward, have been pushing the issue, although confusingly they are running their own petition alongside Peter Roberts’ original petition on the No 10 petitions site. Today they are covering the million milestone on their front page, yesterday it was the bailiffs angle, on Thursday it was the impact of devolution on road pricing and on Tuesday they looked at the security and integrity of the petition itself – it is much more robust than a paper one!

There is even a video interview of Peter Roberts, the guy who started the thing off. Well done Peter.

Peter Roberts (copied from Telegraph)Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.

Get clicking and signing if you want to avoid paying another tax and having your movements traced by the state.

Categories
Road pricing

Road pricing petition heads for 600,000

The Telegraph is covering the road pricing petition again. This time they have highlighted a European angle. Apparently to find some justification for the incredible waste and duplication of effort represented by the EU’s Galileo space programme the EU Commission is trying to enforce a rule that all EU road pricing schemes use it. Galileo duplicates the US GPS system and is a total waste of money. The only way you can justify Galileo is you think that Europe’s relations with the US could breakdown to the extent that we were excluded from being able to get access to the high resolution version of GPS that allows you to control and target weapons – anyone can get access to the low res version which the Americans cannot turn off without damaging their own armed forces.

Anyway to go back to the petition it is nudging 600,000 and should be there by the end of the weekend.

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Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.

Get clicking and signing if you want to avoid paying another tax and having your movements traced by the state.