Saturday, 10 February 2007

Travel Tax Petition Madness

Peter Roberts, from Telford, Shropshire, a member of the Association of British Drivers (ABD) since 2001. Created the largest ever e-petition yet on the Downing Street website. Ok, it's a short history as the No10 website only introduced e-petitons in November 06.

The petition has been backed by an almost viral email campaign verging on Spam. As of time of posting over 1million people have put their name to the petition as a result of emails such as this

"Sarah Kennedy was on about this proposed car tax scheme on the radio,
apparently there is only one month left to register your objection to the
'Pay as you go' road tax.

The petition is on the 10 Downing St website but they didn't tell anybody
about it. Therefore at the time of Sarah's comments only 250,000 people had
signed it so far and 750,000 signatures are required to stop them introducing it.

This is legit... from 10 Downing Street 's website.

Once you've given your details (you don't have to give your full
address, just house number and postcode will do), they will send you an
email with a link in it. Once you click on that link, you'll have signed
the petition.

Democracy in action?

The government's proposal to introduce road pricing will mean you having to
purchase a tracking device for your car and paying a monthly bill to use
it. The tracking device will cost about £200 and in a recent study by the
BBC, the lowest monthly bill was £28 for a rural florist and £194 for a
delivery driver. A non working mother who used the car to take the kids to
school paid £86 in one month.

On top of this massive increase in tax, you will be tracked. Somebody will
know where you are at all times. They will also know how fast you have been
going, so even if you accidentally creep over a speed limit in time you can
probably expect a Notice of Intended Prosecution with your monthly bill.

If you care about our freedom and stopping the constant bashing of the car
driver, please sign the petition on No 10's new website (link below) and
pass this on to as many people as possible. Then click on view petitions.

So you see it has gained plenty of support, but is it democratic to only formulate the argument against and not the argument for, using scare tactics to get a knee-jerk response from the British Public?

The proposals aren't new, and have been discussed openly. This over reaction seems to be based upon the publication of the "Eddington Report" a study commissioned by the government in 2005. This report looked into the possibilities for road pricing, road building, rail and airport investment, as well as the planning system. This report was published in November 2006 and was widely reported on at the time.

The purpose of this petition organised by a minority using scare tactics is quite shameful as it does nothing to discuss or highlight the problems we face if we do nothing.

If we don't do national road pricing, and we want to keep congestion constant in Britain over the next 20 years, we'd have to build five times the amount of roads the government are planning.

We believe road pricing on 10% of the network at certain times would help.

We ought to be saying the technology is available for road charging, let's get on with it. Politicians in every party are running scared.

Protecting freight flows along our key Trade Routes should be a priority for government that cannot wait for the introduction of road pricing or the other recommendations in the Eddington Transport Study.

No. 10
doing nothing would lead to a 25% increase in congestion "in less than a decade".

Here's a link to the petition which is in favour of taking action to stop uncontrolled traffic growth, just to provide a balance

Bear in mind that by choosing to do nothing is something you may regret in years to come, and that in doing so you will be condemning this country to traffic chaos. We are a small country with a very poor public transport infrastructure, economically we can't shy away from the difficult decisions that need to be made now, before it's too late! The Eddington study said charging could benefit the economy by £28bn a year.

Here's a couple of other links that are worth checking for a more balanced version of what road charging may involve and why it may be needed.

BBC 1st December - some good links to other reporting of the eddington report

The first news report of the petition as it reached the 230,000 mark on the 11th January

Roads petition breaks a million - BBC News on the story of the petition breaking the million

Added on Monday 12th Feb -
It looks like the weight of the petition has caused the government to admit "it was important to have a proper debate on the subject and consider a range of views"

Also have been informed the Sunday Post did a rather good job of reportingand investigating the false claims around this petition using this headline-

More than one million sign “nonsense” petition

E-mail lies spark
road tax protest

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