Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tony Blair's reply to the road pricing signatories

As of 12 midnight last night - GMT - the now infamous online petition on the Downing Street website against road pricing closed: with over 1.7 million signatures. As of 8am this morning the offically posted reply from Mr. Blair himself was:

It made clear that congestion is a major problem to which there is no easy answer. One aspect of the study was highlighting how road pricing could provide a solution to these problems and that advances in technology put these plans within our reach. Of course it would be ten years or more before any national scheme was technologically, never mind politically, feasible.

That is the backdrop to this issue. As my response makes clear, this is not about imposing "stealth taxes" or introducing "Big Brother" surveillance. This is a complex subject, which cannot be resolved without a thorough investigation of all the options, combined with a full and frank debate about the choices we face at a local and national level. That's why I hope this detailed response will address your concerns and set out how we intend to take this issue forward. I see this email as the beginning, not the end of the debate, and the links below provide an opportunity for you to take it further.

But let me be clear straight away: we have not made any decision about national road pricing.

Read the rest here

Blair states that 'we have not made any decision about national road pricing. Indeed we are simply not yet in a position to do so'. At least this is true, for the technology required to put road-pricing into operation isn't 'operational' itself yet. Individualised road-pricing will involve satellite tracking, to be supplied via the Galileo project of 30 satellites and responder ground stations. Whilst this project was scheduled to be ready for 2008 it is now 3-4 years behind. So the government is testing the water with these plans, hoping to have ironed out any problems and resistances by 2011/2. By that time it is hoped that the general public will have been resigned, or nullified, into accepting the inevitable shift into an increased control society. New mobility or the illusion of freedom and mobility?

Also, this is a link to the Eddington Transport Study


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