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Friday, 6 July 2007

Let Bristol decide about Road Pricing !

Sign up for a say on whether you should pay a road-toll:

You may have picked up the Evening Post and found me glaring out at you today from a traffic island. I have set up a petition on the Council’s website to ask for a referendum on road pricing before a pilot scheme goes ahead.

Click on the link below for the full Evening Post story.


Sitting on the traffic-island fence?

I think the journalist on the end of the phone was a bit upset that I wasn’t going to shake my fists and yell ‘No Road Charge!’. I also think he was a bit miffed that I didn’t get all militant in favour of road charging. I suspect there are already Bristol bloggers out there joyously accusing me of opportunism and other people saying I’m just sitting on the traffic-island fence about it all. So let me explain why I have not waved my fist either for or against road charging yet, and why I want a Bristol referendum:

There really are good arguments both for and against road-pricing. You’re not stupid, you can think of the main ones, but simply put:


  • On the one hand, global warming is a real threat to our way of life (Though I admit, it’s hard to believe anything’s warming up today.) We must reduce carbon emissions and our reliance on the car.

  • Bristol at peak hour is grid-locked. Congestion is costing Bristol business approximately £1m per week. Not good, and only going to get worse…

  • Drastic times call for drastic measures, some might say. No one wants to pay more tax, but is it the only way to find the money needed to improve our public transport?


  • It’s not fair to make people pay an extra tax when they have no option but to use their car.

  • Businesses in the zone may suffer.

  • It will not reduce carbon emissions, or congestion, it will simply push it all just outside the zone. Into places like Westbury-on-Trym, Horfield, Henleaze and Stoke-Bishop to name but a few.

  • There are other measures we should try first before resorting to this.

  • Extra money is no guarantee that public transport will improve. Real improvement needs a change in infrastructure, not simply more money poured into to the same financial sieve.

We deserve answers to important transport questions…
There are questions that need answering before we can really make a proper decision about a road tax. A referendum would force these questions out into the open to be discussed rigorously and answered properly and precisely.

One major factor is how would the money raised be spent? Would it really go to improve public transport? How exactly (with figures and costings and bus routes…)?

How about a Greater Bristol Transport Authority?
The congestion charge in London only works because there is a good public transport alternative and transport is run by an independent body, Transport for London. (TFL). I believe we need a Bristol area equivalent: A Greater Bristol Transport Authority. (GBTA, if you like acronyms.)

Any successful transport strategy must extend beyond simply city boundaries to Banes, South Glos. And North Somerset. We need to be sure that the money raised does not get soaked up in miscellaneous Council business, but goes straight to transport. We need an authority that can make decisions for the good of the city, untouched by political concerns and council election disruption. A GBTA would do this.

There was a referendum on road-charging in Edinburgh, and the people rejected it. That was largely because the Council had not shown they would spend the money well by ‘front-loading’ the road-charging with improved public transport.

I for one need to be assured that Bristol City Council really would spend my money well if they taxed me to use my car. And I would need to be able to get from A to B on public transport instead.

No one wants to pay more tax. But most of us see the need to reduce carbon emissions and our daily congestion. A referendum would both put the decision in the hands of the people who will have to pay for it, and it will ensure that these questions are asked and answered so that the people of Bristol can make a proper, informed decision.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Bristol City Council getting transport up and running ok? you must be joking. Let's have a referendum. I'd vote no.

Angelo Agathangelou said...

In St George we have been campaigning against the congestion charge and other assaults on the car user, our neighborhood and particularly our high street. Spearheading the campaign, initially against the loss of hundreds of parking spaces in St George we have uncovered more than this.

A member of my team discovered that the siemens cameras being used are capable of number-plate recognition and therefore clearly intended for that use, as I understand it when the fifth so called "Showcase" bus route has been completed. It is a local issue of hot debate.

I personally do NOT believe that this is the way forward. It feels like another socialist experiment where instead progress is needed. Furthermore many ‘in to’ science, may have noticed “the great global warming swindle” an excellent program which in itself blew away the carbon theory as we have been spoon fed it. Many of us who have examined the nuts and bolts of this theory not only dismiss it, but have a far broader view.

I worry that we are way behind on this issue. In ancient times we thought that the sun revolved around the earth, what has changed? THE SUN WARMS THE GLOBE! Good forbid that a major star goes supernova too close to home… In these terms (the sun, volcanoes, the sea, supernova) the human race and its effects are insignificant.

Those who think we have problems have not traveled intellectually or otherwise. I am for progress solving this one for us and support for the poor sods in places like China who really have problems with pollution.

I agree that Bristol Transport needs to improve to London’s standard before us Bristolians can be reasonably expected to leave our precious cars behind!

I want to know how making Church Road into a slalom improved, carbon efficiency, safety or gave us more liberty!


I like your blog, rock on Charlotte.

Damian Warburton said...

Bristol City Council are far more interested in collecting fines, justly or otherwise (and in my observations, frequently otherwise), than they are in working toward an effective transportation system. As someone who has lived in Edinburgh, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield, Cambridge and London prior to Bristol, I can confidently say that Bristol has (by a huge margin) the worst transportation facilities and the most Draconian penalties for those who fall foul of them.

Anonymous said...

"On the one hand, global warming is a real threat to our way of life (Though I admit, it’s hard to believe anything’s warming up today.) We must reduce carbon emissions and our reliance on the car."

I'm very glad that the penny is beginning to drop. A simple look out of the window this relatively chilly August will ofer sufficient proof that all this talk of 'global warming' is pure claptrap based not on weather or science but on the desires of greens and politicans to control our society. The sooner the whole barmy idea is consigned to the rubbish skip the better.

Anonymous said...

What is the point in wasting public money on anything to do with congestion charging? It has been thoroughly rejected by people of Edinburgh and Manchester, nobody but greens want it, it is destructive to business. For Pete's sake stop wasting any more time and money on this fad.