Monday, August 07, 2006

"Gate Britain" part 2: The letter

I am pleased to announce that I have sent a letter to Douglas Alexander about the issues raised in the previous posts here and here.

Below is a transcript. I will of course update the blog with any feedback I recieve and I hope it has a positive impact.

"To Douglas Alexander,

I am writing in response to an article by "The Mirror" which discusses requests by MPs for you to take action to address the issues of congestion, pollution and global warming. I am concerned that the policies being proposed are both inherently negative and also dangerous to the long-term economic prosperity of Britain.

Firstly according to "The Mirror (archived version)"
you proposed to add level of toll roads and congestion charging zones to large parts of the UK. However unlike in London there are many locations where there is no viable public transport alternative for business commuters. This means that the charge instantly becomes a transport tax. Only the wealthiest will be able to afford to travel and the rate of inflation will soar. The United Kingdom economy is almost entirely focused on tertiary and qua-tertiary sectors and if the costs rise too high, footloose businesses will relocate even more, forcing unemployment up.

Instead your policy should focus on speeding up journey times, improving public transport services and pricing them competitively against the car to promote usage.

People need to travel and your job is to facilitate and assist people in achieving this.

The article then discusses plans to increase taxation on vehicles that release more CO2. I accept that this is not entirely a bad idea but once again your policy is incomplete. Where is your policy on getting cleaner biofuels into UK petrol stations? Why has the Labour government increased the rate of tax on biofuels to the same as levels on regular petrol? Why have you not demanded that car manufacturers offer cars powered by renewal energy? The article states you have pledged 10 million into the technology for toll boths and that by the next election the Labour party will have passed laws on this. Instead of pursuing this quick fix tax policy why not create a legacy of your own by addressing some of the above questions.

At this point in the article I was baffled by a statement "They also want 70mph speed limits on motorways and trunk roads cut or rigorously enforced to cut pollution." Cutting speed limits, road narrowing, and generally slowing traffic down does not cut pollution, it increases it. Using more eco-friendly engines or cutting down the number of motorists may help, but considering we are talking about the motorways where people make mostly essential, long distance journeys, all lowering the speed limit would achieve is decreasing the capacity of the road network and increase journey times; another negative policy.

Raise the speed limit along motorways and other areas where there are few pedestrians and decrease them to very low levels when cars are in close proximity to pedestrians such as along high streets and near schools and accident blackspots, especially at certain times of the day to reflect road conditions. Use common sense. Just slowing traffic down is not a sustainable long term policy, and in reality highlights failures at all levels of government in managing traffic. People do not respect the current speed limits because the transport department does not respect people.

Bob Roberts continues by addressing your policy on road charging which it is claimed will help reduce congestion by reducing the number of journeys people make. However is your department being manipulated? I believe the long-term aim of the Labour party is to use road charging to track people by satellite by making it compulsory for everyone to have a black box in their car, giving the state the ability to monitor exactly who is where. Also in your reply you cannot state: "There will be protection against abuse" because as we have seen with virtually all previous intrusive legislation, the Labour party extends it and removes safeguards. And what happens if a party such as the BNP come to power?! If you value privacy and the ability to travel without being recorded oppose this legislation.

The final aspect of the article I will address is the airline fuel tax. Alternative engines and Biofuels appear to be the ideal answer. Do you have the courage to implement a positive transport policy for the remainder of your time in office?

Thank you for reading and I eagerly await your reply,


Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home