Tag Archive | "Vignette"

Road Charging Around The Corner


If after reading this you are lost for words and can’t find the right way to express your feelings, the words you are seeking are ‘blatant’ and ‘rip-off’. Add the expletive(s) of your choice.

This time it is road charging. Again. Rather than run the motorways and other main roads in an efficient manner on our behalf, the government believes it would be best for all of us if they were ‘leased’ to private companies. Obviously, these companies would want to be paid for this and we would accordingly be charged to use ‘their’ roads. Tolls, in other words.

This story has been doing the rounds for a while now and the government know they are in for some healthy resistance from motoring organisations, commercial vehicle operators and of course private motorists. As a consequence they are looking at ways to stitch us up differently and just now they are considering an annual one-off charge.

The first thought was to offset this by a partial reduction in vehicle excise duty but even they have realised that to do this would penalise those drivers who have purchased environment-friendly cars and pay little or no road tax. Back to the drawing board then as they try to come up with a formula that is ‘fair’.

The latest wheeze seems to be similar to that used in some other European countries. It is called the Vignette process. Road pricing charges are imposed on vehicles based on a period of time rather than distance or a collected toll. Even as you read this they are working towards a charging structure that is acceptable to companies and private vehicle owners. It may, for example, be based on a levy linked to the CO² output or even the weight of any given vehicle.

The government are going to publish a ‘consultation’ document in the next month or so. The Department for Transport have confirmed that they are undertaking feasibility studies for the private ownership of major routes and the attendant financial issues. They insist that no decision has been reached although, just like a shop-bought beef lasagne, you know there is going to be something in this process that you won’t like.

Motoring organisations are already calling this yet another tax on motorists and it is hard to argue with that assessment. We already pay fuel tax, vehicle excise duty and tolls on some roads and bridges; now it looks as if we are going to pay some more.

Of course, it is probably feasible to drive around Britain using just the quiet B-roads and byways that criss-cross the land but if we all do that then our country lanes will become gridlocked and they are already in a poor condition anyway. It simply beggars belief that ministers can continue to announce this sort of thing and not go red in the face with shame.

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