UNDER THREAT: BRITAIN's MOTORISTS
On 14 December 1998 most of the country was preparing to celebrate Christmas. The Government published a paper 'Breaking the Logjam', with its proposals for increasing the already heavy tax burden on motorists. Motorists now face:
Mark McArthur-Christie of the Association of British Drivers (ABD; a group unrelated to New Alliance) did the public a service by pointing out what the Government proposals mean:
1999 - PUBLIC COMPLAINTS HIT GOVERNMENT
Following a New Alliance media campaign, which made over four million newspapers, the public consultation went against these proposals. The Government instead decided to devolve the unpopularity risk to local authorities.
One big development has been in the new Greater London Authority, where Mayor Ken Livingstone will introduce Congestion Charging in February 2003. His original plans, scrutinised by the GLA Assembly in October 2000, closely followed an EU blueprint. (Hardly surprising as Livingstone is a key member of Britain In Europe/London In Europe and a propagandist for the Euro).
Such was his haste to get in Congestion Charging by 2003, Livingstone was censured by GLA members in December 2000 for failing to address their practical concerns. There has also been unrest over his 'public consultation' - the scheme was introduced even though a majority of responses opposed his plans. (See www.london-motoring.org.uk/critic.htm).
THE ROLE OF EUROPE
The New Alliance can reveal that, as with much unwanted bureaucracy and legislation, the hand of the European Union (EC/EU) can be traced. The Government's Department for Transport (then known as 'Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' (DETR)) hosted on its website another paper, "A New Deal for Transport", which says:
"More direct charges can also be very effective in influencing demand .
. road user charging and a levy on non-residential parking. The European Commission's Green Paper 'Towards Fair and Efficient Pricing in Transport' advocates the use of such measures ."
"The European Union has an important role to play in setting the framework of policy and law"
"The UK cannot succeed in delivering an integrated transport policy in isolation from Europe".
Perhaps the last comment really means that the UK is not allowed to operate its own transport policy, as the Maastricht Treaty gave us no veto on EU proposals.
The public should demand a proper analysis of the EU's claims to promote its transport programme in the name of the environment. (Or if you prefer the jargon "Sustainable Mobility"). The fragmentation of the old British Rail happened in response to the EC Railways Directive of 1991, and has resulted in poorer services to commuters.
It should also remember also the damage to the environment caused by the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies. And abroad, in countries like Portugal, many of the problems said to be caused by motorists have in fact resulted from EU-sponsored road building in the name of Trans European Networks!
It is difficult to see how adopting the draconian and costly measures proposed by the DETR and the EU will improve Britain's "competitiveness". But that is what is claimed by both parties.
EXTREMISTS FOR 'CAR FREE CITIES'?
At the same time as the EU is puffing itself up as a promoter of "free movement of people" and "security, freedom and justice", it is actively undermining these things. The car is not a luxury for many elderly people, and those who live in dangerous inner cities or isolated rural areas.
The BBC's Education Website advertises that the Car Free Cities (CFC) network was set up by the European Commission's DG XI directorate. The CFC website proclaims:
"All decision makers at the local, regional, national and European levels are urged to play their part in changing our culture of mobility"
CFC is working to the spirit of the Copenhagen Declaration, signed on 8 May 1996. This talks of minimising the amount of public space allocated to cars. Rather hypocritically it talks about the "social exclusion" of citizens who do not have the use of a car yet the cost hikes it supports would affect many. (In Britain, public transport will eventually become dearer as a result of having to levy VAT on fares, which is laid down by another EU "action programme" COM(96)328. EU Tax Commissioner Bolkestein has said that Britain's arrangements are only 'transitory' - i.e. temporary).
Technically, CFC merged with the transport committee of Eurocities to become ACCESS in January 2002, but we are assured that ACCESS will continue its work! UK local government members include: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Lancashire CC, Leeds, London Boroughs of: Camden, Ealing, Lambeth, Merton, Southwark; Corporation of London, Manchester, Nottingham, Telford and Wrekin. Also Merseytravel (Liverpool).
We can only guess what is the planners' real agenda?. But as powers lost to the EU cannot legally be given back to an individual country, it is only by withdrawing from the EU that we can genuinely have national policies that safeguard both the environment and Britain's 36 million motorists.
ABD website for general pointers to charging plans: www.abd.org.uk
NAAT website for tolling information: www.notolls.org.uk
David Delaney's 'Eurofollies' website describes the effect of other EU initiatives on transport users: www.kc3ltd.co.uk/profile/eurofollie
Department for Transport: (reformed in 2002; previously known as DTLR or DETR.
Old links no longer work, but are listed for historic reference).
Visit the new website and use its Search facility:
DETR paper Breaking The Logjam: www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/logjam
(Chapter 4 on Consultation recommended): www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/logjam/chap4.htm
DETR paper A New Deal on Transport: www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/paper
(Chapter 4 on Charging recommended): www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/paper/chapter4/20.htm
Commission for Integrated Transport - EU measures by the back door?: www.cfit.gov.uk
EU Transport Directorate website: www.europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg07
ACCESS ('Car Free Cities'): www.access-eurocities.org
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Date this page compiled 7 March 1999, updated: 5 September 2002; links 7 October 2006