The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Bold Nottingham

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 31, 2009 @ 16:00

No doubt local opposition will rally around their local hero...

No doubt local opposition will rally around their local hero...

Are they bold, or are they brave, or are they stupid to try to introduce this?

Asking people to pay for parking in work is maybe not so controversial as it once was. A lot of people already have to do that. I know civil servants who have to pay at their own workplace because the buildings are all owned by the PFI partner of the government department. So to them, this isn’t very new.

This is one of those tricky political decisions. It’s bound to be a local issue at the next elections. There will be much talk of how councillors have betrayed the local area. There will be much ink spilled and much wailing and moaning about further taxes on the poor, downtrodden motorist – especially if the trial proves to be successful.

But, to me, this should be a much broader issue. It says it all that powers that were given to local councils in 2000 are only now being put into action. Typical of this government which has always been big on the headlines but not quite so brave when it comes to implementing them. It seems they planned this one all along so that local councils would take the rap. Let them take the risk, in the same way as they let Ken Livingstone take on the vested interests when he introduced the congestion charge.

This is the kind of thing that we are going to have to do if we’re serious about tackling the issues of congestion and climate change. The real terms cost of motoring simply must rise to an extent that public transport is a genuine alternative. This would be one small piece in that jigsaw. After all, you normally pay to park at a retail shopping centre. What’s the difference with driving to work? It’s generally not your land that you wish to place one tonne of metal and electronics on – so what right do you have to do so?

Yet all of this is obscuring the real issue. The one that I threatened to return to a long time ago about national road pricing. Because that is, actually, the best solution. Best in terms of fairness, in cost, in revenue raised, in tackling the environment impact of road use: the one that will even deal with that often cited problem of “what about rural drivers with no public transport?”

I still want to write a more considered post on this at a later date setting out my full thoughts. But, in the meantime, I am pleased to see at least one council is prepared to take on the business interests that are, unfortunately, going to stand in the way of every effort to try to deal with the horrendous congestion that is choking our towns and cities.

Maybe this gentle step in the right direction is a sign that some politicians at least are prepared to take unpopular decisions – because, let’s face it, what self-interested, rational road user will welcome this? – but ones that are necessary for dealing with some of the problems this country faces.

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