Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Transport tax plans could be piloted in North - McCartney

13 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson and Assembly Member for Foyle Raymond McCartney, has hit out against the introduction of running the new Labour Government transport tax proposals in any shape or form in the North. This week has seen the British Transport Minister, Alistair Darling and his policy advisors give serious consideration to running pilot schemes to examine the potential for introducing what is a congestion charge.

"I am astounded by the recent proposals aired by British Transport Secretary this week vis-à-vis the introduction of a congestion charge. What we need is to see an end to stealth taxation. There is nothing in DRD policy planning to indicate the full implementation of a modern public transport strategy. Instead what we are likely to see is an increase in car ownership, continued congestion, longer journey times, an upward trend in road accident statistics all at a detrimental cost to our environment and the quality of life of transport users. From my own perspective, the complete dependence and over reliance on car usage is down to a lack of a public transport network, which is not financed to build the type of transport infrastructure fit for purpose. There are many issues to be addressed and the irony of the congestion tax proposition has surfaced during ride your bike to work week.

There are already plans to run pilot schemes, and the North could be one such area whereby individual car owners will see microchip transponders fitted to their vehicles and electronic or satellite tracking systems will monitor miles accumulated. A levy of some £1.30 per mile could be applied for vehicles using urban road networks, and 30p per mile exercised in rural areas.

"The idea of this tax raises issues around civil liberties as much as it does around the whole concept of a Government which is committed to privatisation of key public services. I am further saddened by these plans when set against the revelations of DRD paying almost £500,000 in consultants fees to explore the potential for the water charge. There is only one way that this type of unaccountable and unacceptable governance can be reversed - for Unionism to begin immediate discussions with Sinn Fein, along with others to ensure a return to the Executive and template of the Agreement. The socio-economic issues which impact enormously on everyone's lives requires and demands locally elected and responsible Ministers to fully redress the detrimental impact of Direct Rule." ENDS

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