The online petition against the proposed introduction of vehicle tracking and road pricing has currently reached 1,559,649 signatures and finishes on 20th February 2007.
This is a protest against the rapidly increasing cost of motoring in the UK and invasion of privacy.
I am against the introduction of additional forms of tax and the bureaucracy needed to gather it. I does seem unfair to introduce charging for roads which we already pay for. A litre of petrol costs about 85 pence, 48 pence of this is fuel tax and 12 pence Value Added Tax (VAT). Add to this the annual Vehicle Excise Duty ‘tax disc’ at Â£175 for cars over 1600cc and we are paying quite a bit to run a car these days.
Some of the proposed road pricing schemes are talking of compulsory GPS fitted to cars. This is just wrong. We in the UK are probably one of the most monitored societies in the world, with about 1 CCTV camera per 14 people. Combined with data gathered from use of mobile phones and loyalty cards, we are rapidly bringing George Orwell’s vision of 1984 to life. The privacy issues aside, who will have to fund this compulsory technology, the motorist I expect.
I do agree that the car does causes massive damage to the environment and agree that something needs to be done. Much as I am against ‘stealth’ taxes, I believe if the cost of motoring needs to be increased to force cars off the road then it is best to add the tax to fuel, this way additional complex schemes the identify and collect the funds don’t have to be created. It’s simple if you used fuel, you pay the cost.
The problem with forcing the car off the road is that the public transport system isn’t up to being its replacement. This will lead to people having to reassess where they work and spend their leisure time, which could have long term impact on many industries in the UK. If a company really wants to retain it’s staff it will end up paying the charges, which will force to costs of goods up and so impact inflation. If they don’t pay the charges then they will loose experienced staff and so impact their effectiveness.
I have just read on the BBC website that Tony Blair will be sending an email in the next few days to the people who have signed the petition, so I shall wait to see what it says.
I do know that this is a complicated issue that will take some time to resolve. What do you think?