Blinkered attack on Scots drivers 07 | 09 | 2010

    THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, in its infinite wisdom, is girding its loins yet again to hammer motorists with a package of road tolls, higher parking fees, workplace parking levies and lower speed limits. And the reason for hammering drivers: yes, you've guessed it, tackling climate change.

    The measures — the Scottish Government, as usual, is playing its familiar game of releasing the scaremongering ideas and then labeling them simply as "a range of options which did not necessarily reflect official policy" — could, supposedly, help deliver an ambitious target of a 42% cut in emissions by 2020.

    Just who are they kidding?

    The cost of implementing the necessary technology to police the journeys of every individual car in Scotland would be astronomical

    A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government gave the following explanation: "The discussion papers ensure a full and open discussion and have been made available as part of that engagement to illustrate a range of options that could potentially cut carbon."

    Complete gobbledegook in an effort to try and justify an exercise which is already a complete waste of money and produced by a small body of people sitting in an ivory tower somewhere in Edinburgh.

    A question of simple and blatant discrimination

    Let me just highlight a few of the proposals contained within the 'discussion document':

    A national road-pricing scheme would make motorists pay for every trip linked to the emissions of their cars — an average cost of 8p per mile;

    A 50% increase in on-street parking charges;

    A £300-a-year workplace parking levy; Lowering speed limits on some roads;

    Boosting membership of city car clubs, and;

    Free training for motorists on ecologically-better driving.

    Apart from the obvious injustice of again hitting the easy target of motorists, the document raises the question of simple and blatant discrimination. Where else in the UK are such costs intended to be levied? Nowhere. These new costs, if implemented would merely pile unfair penalties on to Scottish motorists.

    We all acknowledge we, as motorists, have to pay fuel duty and, road tax and MoT, but these taxes are levied by Westminster across the whole of the UK. The additional costs would, without question, disadvantage Scots drivers.

    Fundamentally damage Scottish industry

    The Scottish Government has absolutely no control over road taxes, so in reality it would be entirely wrong of it to try to attempt to impose road tolls across Scotland. In addition, the cost of implementing the necessary technology to police the journeys of every individual car in Scotland would be astronomical.

    If, by some freak of democracy, the Scottish Government did impose the new taxes, it would instantly mean Scots were paying more to drive than those in other parts of the UK; it would be fundamentally unfair and would damage Scottish industry.

    Does the Scottish Government think hauliers and transport companies will simply absorb the costs? Not a hope. The increased costs will immediately be passed on to the customer. And in a fragile economy, where exactly is the sense in even suggesting a £300-a-year 'workplace parking levy'?

    The previous devolved government considered something similar; sensibly it was thrown out. To impose such draconian penalties on businesses now, when many companies are struggling to cope with current taxes, would be ludicrous.

    Already motorists pay far too much in road and fuel taxes. To consider adding more penalties is blinkered beyond belief.

    Jim McGill

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