Monday, 19 March 2012

All roads lead to the taxpayer's pockets

David Cameron has today been giving us the benefit of his views on how he believes it possible to  extract yet more money from the motoring taxpayer to fund his - and his master's - vision of the future. As Richard North, EU Referendum, points out the motorist is already paying £42billion pa and only £9billion is returned - and Cameron expects the motorist to pay yet more?

Cameron suggests that improvements to the A14 could be part funded by the imposition of tolls. Let us digress slightly and consider why improvements to the A14 are being made. Back in 2004, 30 priority axes were adopted (Decision No 884/2004/EC) amongst which was the aim to improve transport links between Ireland, via the United Kingdom, to mainland Europe. Part of these 30 priority projects is the A14 from Felixstowe to Nuneaton, then connecting with existing motorways to terminate at Holyhead and Larne (Project 13). If tolls were to be introduced on the A14 then of course we will be paying three times with the road fund licence, toll charges and by means of our contribution to the €11,670,000 grant that has been made.

Of course tolls are nothing new as for some years an electronic road toll system for the EU has been the subject of both a directive and a decision and only last year Siim Kallas produced a guide for the application of the directive on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems. From the Foreward it is worth noting that besides being used to finance motorway and road construction it can also be effective for reaching broader transport policy objectives such as modification of users’ habits.

In common with most of what Cameron says, in that he never tells us the whole truth, there is no mention that the tolling system will need to comply with EU standards (nor what the cost of that might be), neither is there any mention that the improvements to the A14 are only being made as a result of the requirement to finalise an EU 'transport corridor'.

He is obviously able to let his own cat out of No10, but under strict instructions not to let the EU cat out of the bag.


Dave H said...

The A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon needs an upgrade regardless of whether it's part of an EU plan or not. As well as the E-W traffic, there's a fair bit that comes up the M11 and crosses over to the A1(M) and it's regularly in the news.

However, Cameron's proposal is like PFI without the middleman - instead of committing a lot of future tax money, we'll all be able to contribute directly to the companies building the new road. I guess it'll be more efficient without the government bureaucrats in the way.

I bet that if someone did a long-term costing, using private money in this way is going to cost far more than the alternative options.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

£42bn per annum from the motorist, is a lot of money for road repairs and the like. But little of that money finds its way to where it should really go.

The trouble is that the PM and the chancellor, regard taxes as monies that they can spend as they please.

"Referism" in the form of a YES/NO for the overall government budget will not solve the problem, as politicians will still have the power to shift the money around. Then the inevitable shortages in one sector, will be blamed on the public for limiting the budget

Switzerland gets around this problem by

1. All major budget items are marked for specific purposes. Thus vehicle tax revenue can be used only for transport related items. If there is a shortfall, the politicians can ask for more money for that item, and it is put forward as a referendum.

Thats so fair, I cannot understand why it isn't adopted everywhere - the money belongs to the people, and they can spend it where they like, or not at all.

2. As 80-90% of total tax revenue is at the cantonal level, the budget is restricted to the peculiarities of that canton. This is eminently sensible.

3. Swiss politicians are for the most part part-time, and have a regular job. They are politicians only as a civic duty - they serve the community for a limited period. Thus there are no political hangers-on, political pay-offs, party allegiance above requirements of the people, and all the rest of political shenanigans, that so corrupts our present representative "democracy".

PeterCharles said...

There was a question floating around a while ago in the blogosphere; "name six things you can do without government interference," or something like that. The question should now be "name anything the UK government can do that does not require approval or permission of the EU." For the life of me I don't think there is any more. Every single news broadcast I have heard lately where the government is doing or planning to do some thing there is a caveat that it must comply with an EU directive, or be approved by Brussels or be checked with Brussels. Yet even though it is an actual par of the broadcast no one seems to even notice, or they just don't care, or the MSM never reports that people do care.

Anyway, back to the point here, this is just another Brownian 'get more money in without raising direct taxes' wheeze, or they have done something or information has surfaced that needs to be buried and kept out of the news, maybe even both.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

DH: Know that stretch of the A14. The point is, as I said, it is not being done 'cause we want it done, it is being done as it is a priority corridor - that is what is being hidden from the GBP

DP111: You misunderstand - my form of referism is for each budget or item! It won't be that onerous for them as there won't be that much for which they will have responsibility!

PC: Yes and it was IPJ who first raised it and I repeated the question on more than one occasion - and still waiting for someone to do it!

Agree with your suspicions too!

Robin Smith said...

I reckon the motorist should pay the full cost of motoring. Which are?

Nevertheless, this new scheme is barking up the wrong tree for transport.

kenomeat said...

John Charles: If you don't mind I'd like to use most of your opening paragraph in one of my forthcoming letters to my local newspaper. It is a powerful argument which I hope will resonate with readers.

PeterCharles said...

kenomeat, if you meant me (being the only name here with 'Charles' in it) please feel free and please report the outcome to us back here with WfW.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

RS: No problem with that - providing all the revenue is ploughed back into motoring and the roads. May well result in the ability to reduce fuel duty.......

PC: Damn good idea - please do so, k..

kenomeat said...

Peter: Sorry, I did mean you. I've had some success in getting letters published recently and have provoked petulant responses from a Labour MEP. I'm in the happy position that, if he responds again to my most recent letter then the debate may continue and more and more local people (Warrington) will have their eyes opened. If he doesn't respond then I will have had the last word. It's a lengthy process though as there is often a 2/3 weeks time lag between writing the letter and having it appear in the paper.

PeterCharles said...

In that case I wish you further success, kenomeat, 'though I fear petulant replies from politicians generally forecast ensuing silence. Still, if the paper is willing since your MEP has previously responded via that medium that makes them fair game for a bit of hounding, of a gentle 'too frit to reply' type of course. Indeed, if silence prevails any decent paper would be asking why.

Apologies, WfW, for using your blog as a chat room ;-)

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PC: No apology necessary

TomTom said...

France abolished Road Tax in 1999.

Germany has the MoT every 2 years