Fleet News

D-day looms for Prescott over Transport Bill plans

NEXT week is D-day for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott when Thursday's Queen's Speech will reveal whether the Government plans a Transport Bill in its next legislative session. The bill would lay the foundations for city centre congestion charges and workplace parking levies, both of which are key policies in the drive by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to encourage motorists out of their cars and on to public transport.

The new London Act will give the capital's new authority and mayor the power to impose congestion charges and to tax workplace parking spaces. This will see London as the testbed for these highly controversial measures which have divided the business community and risk alienating private motorists. The idea behind the two charges is the straightforward creation of a guaranteed income stream - estimated at £1 billion per year - that local authorities can use to improve their transport infrastructures.

But while few people deny that traffic congestion is a pressing problem in urban areas - the London Planning Advisory Committee estimates that it would take a reduction in traffic of 35-40% to achieve acceptable air quality in central London - the relevance of charges for driving into provincial town centres and parking at the office is far more debatable. London at least has a public transport infrastructure, however old and creaking, but alternatives to the car in other towns and cities are few and far between. This week, the British Chambers of Commerce called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to promote real improvements in public transport and provide local authorities with immediate funds for investment in transport projects.

The Treasury has made the radical concession of hypothecating these revenues for at least 10 years, meaning that local authorities must ring-fence any money raised from congestion and workplace parking charges for future investment in the transport infrastructure. But this has not fully reassured local authorities that all the money raised through the new charges will be incremental to their existing transport budgets. They fear that the Chancellor will give with one hand and take away with the other, cutting local authority budgets and forcing them to make up the shortfall with the new charges.

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Login to comment


No comments have been made yet.

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee