Thursday, December 5, 2013

A14 Tolls

Good news and all credit to (Conservative) MPs in the region for getting tolls on the new A14 upgrade dropped - I have no doubt it is lobbying by MPs from across the region that has caused tolling to be abandoned. 

But Cambridgeshire residents have seen this all before with plans for congestion charging in Cambridge - we were told cash for transport improvements would only be available if a congestion charge was introduced, much time and cash was wasted before it became clear the plans were never going to be acceptable. How often are we going to have to put up with governments looking at this region and thinking, great, cash cow, lets have another go at making them a guinea pig for road charging schemes. 

Civil servants love it - you get to monitor people all the time as they travel around, and control their behaviour. The consultants that make these road schemes so exorbitantly expensive in the first place love it as they will make a fortune implementing the tolling, and take a large part of the revenue. But really, this region already makes a massive net contribution to the exchequer, so to single it out for additional road charges after fuel duty, car tax and parking charges when nowhere else in the country has a toll of this type, particularly for a desperately over-capacity strategic route was completely outrageous in the first place. 

How much did it cost them to look at tolling? How much damage has been done to the local economy not upgrading the road already? How much damage is being done by the Government constantly coming up with these harebrained schemes? If they want to maximise the benefit to the country from the Cambridge sub-region, they should be making it easier to do business here, by investing in all types of transport: roads, public transport and cycling - if they need to pay for it, engineer down the scandalous £1,5000,000,000 estimated cost of the A14 upgrade.

Singling this region out for special new taxes is a great way to kill the golden goose. Now any bets on how long it will be before congestion charging/demand management/tolls appears on the local agenda again, coupled with the usual carrot of more investment and nonsense about never being able to get transport investment again without the stick - all politicians in the region need to tell the civil servants in no uncertain terms where to stick it and shelve these plans permanently.