Tax 'n' spend: they're parking mad!

Household fuel bills to rise 40%; food up 5-15% depending on who you believe; mortgage interest payments rising by the month; 10% tax rate gone; petrol prices way up. The list goes on …

Meanwhile at Bristol City Council – a Labour administration, remember, whose boss Gordon Brown promised “to listen” – Chief Executive’s pay is up 20%!!! chief officers’ pay is up 10%!!! And the Leader’s pay is up 100%!!!

So how is this all being paid for? Through increased taxation on us of course. Specifically we’re soon going to have to pay for our rubbish to be collected (Blogger Passim) and to park (or not) outside of our own houses. And in the not too distant future look out for that grandaddy of local government revenue raising scams – the CONgestion charge.

But don’t worry because, we’re assured, all these things will only be introduced after meaningful CONsultation with us. Indeed, someone who used to live in London has kindly written to yesterday’s Cancer to tell us how this CONsultation will work:

Having received the recent council literature about the proposal to introduce residents’ parking in Bristol, I would like to ask that when people fill out their consultation forms to consider this: in London, years ago, we had a similar survey and most people I spoke to were against it, but were concerned about the knock-on effect of streets nearby which did adopt the scheme.

As a result, people said no to the scheme, but yes to the scheme if neighbouring streets did it. That means it only took one street to vote in favour for the whole of London to eventually adopt the scheme. My street was in an area away from any local amenities and parking was tight but manageable, a bit like Bristol today. Residents’ parking was brought in and the result was that friends visiting from outside the area were less likely to stop by, delivery vans were frustrated by the need to pay, which often led to a game of “cat and mouse” with the wardens, and yes, there were parking spaces, but it became complete misery for everyone involved.

In addition although we all paid to park in our zone, the zones were so small that you had to pay again if you wanted to drive to the shops, less than seven streets away.

As with all things, this becomes a tax on the poor, as every house can only receive one permit at a cost of £40, so if you are renting a property and sharing with two or more, the second permit would cost £80 and the third a whopping £500. Is this fair?

It is interesting to see how parking problems arise.

In the last few years there have been a large number of properties that have been granted planning to convert into flats, which is of course fine, as there is a housing shortage, but why should the rest of us pay for a problem created by developers and the planning office?

Conversely, can I suggest that as petrol prices rise and with the advent of the new cycle scheme, that before we rush headlong into enormous costs for all, we wait and see whether we really need to go down this route.

The only real winner is the council, which earns a fortune from charges, parking meters and fines, and definitely not you and me.

Zoe Mack, Southville, Bristol.

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol Evening Post, Congestion charge, CONsultants, Environment, Labour Party, Local government, Politics, Recycling, Transport and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

122 Responses to Tax 'n' spend: they're parking mad!

  1. SteveL says:

    When this last came by, back in 1999-2000, Kingsdown pushed hard for limiting enforcement/zones to a couple of hours in the day -enough to block commuter parking but not kill residents or visitor parking. The council didn’t like this because they wanted the full 9-6 period and a bill to match -a bill that would fund FirstBus. Which doesn’t matter that much to inner city residents…we’d pay for something we don’t need. Oh, and it would pay for enforcement of the parking rules, which as the Bristol Traffic photos show, aren’t enforced, even though we nominally pay for those already.

    It seems to me that something subtle like that would be enough to push down on commuter traffic -which is a primary source of congestion and pollution in the city. It wouldn’t bring in much money to the city. It wouldn’t let you place an upper limit on cars/household as long as they weren’t near the house on working days (mixed benefit that). And it wouldn’t help places that do (or soon will) get shopper parking at weekends. but it will discourage commuter parking, which is one of the easiest forms of driving we can discourage *and provide alternatives to*. The other easy targets are the sprog-to-school run and people nipping to the corner shops. I worry that resident parking zones of any kind will encourage that, as there will be more likelihood of parking when you get home. Fortunately or not, the onging collapse of the Gawar oil field will make those short journeys over-expensive. In fact, if oil demand continues to outstrip the (declining) supply, parking is the least of Britain’s and Bristol’s issues

  2. cycler says:

    car owners are just selfish fuckers, fuck ’em

  3. Dave says:

    And cyclists are all saints of the road are they? Get fucked.

    Next time I have a selfish cyclist sail right out in front of me, having ridden through a read light he believes doesn’t apply to him, I’ll just run him over.

    Darwin in action.

  4. Dave says:

    *red light, even.

    Doh!

    Still, at least there are some things to be cheery about, the council has appointed some new “top-management” team members. Glory be!

    Jonathan House is to be Bristol’s new Deputy Chief Executive and David Trussler is to be the Strategic Director of Transformation, overseeing the Transforming Bristol programme.

    Jon House is currently City Police Commander in Sheffield while David Trussler is currently Customer Services Director at the government’s Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

    Terry Wagstaff, currently Assistant Chief Executive, is to be seconded to serve as Chief Executive of the West of England Partnership – the joint body leading on transport, strategic planning, waste management, skills and economic development issues across the city region.

    Hmmmm….

  5. thebristolblogger says:

    Great. A fucking copper with an education and another career bureaucrat. How exciting.

    I also see that utter waste of space Wagstaff gets a sideways move so we have to keep forking out on his wages – so much for the bullshit about cutting back on the senior management wage bill then. And as Wagstaff is congenitally incapable of independent thought I wonder who at BCC will be pulling his strings at the West of England Partnership?

  6. Chris Hutt says:

    BB and I have already debated the parking issue at some length on my blog, but I’d like to flag up some issues here nevertheless.

    Firstly there is no right to park on the highway, even outside your home. The highway exists to allow people and goods to PASS freely, not to PARK or store vehicles. Highway authorities have generally allowed parking free of charge except where demand outstripped supply (town centres) where the pricing mechanism has long been used to resolve that.

    The areas where demand for on-street parking outstrips supply have grown with increasing car ownership and so something needs to be done to resolve this. We know the pricing mechanism works, but if applied according to market rates this would result in annual charges in the order of £1,000.

    So the Council are in fact proposing to subsidise car owners by charging only £40/£60 for the first two cars owned by a household. Even a third car will only be charged at £500 which is only about £2 per working day so well below a market value. Effectively this means that car owners will continue to be heavily subsidised, to the tune of about £1,000 per car per year.

    The beneficiaries of the subsidy will be car owners, particularly households with two cars (25% of households) and the losers will be those who don’t own cars (29% of households). Yet motorists are complaining!

    If proper market rates were charged the substantial revenues could allow Council Tax to be reduced. There is no reason why there should be a net increase in overall charging/taxation as a consequence, except for the management/enforcement costs of the RPZs.

  7. Pete Gilbert says:

    So, Chris Hutt, car owners are being heavily subsidised to the tune of £1,000 a year? But if the parking charge isnt introduced nobody will be subsidising anybody. And do you honestly think that the council tax would ever be actually reduced? You are living in socialist cloud cuckoo land.

  8. Dave says:

    What an absolute load of rubbish! Car owners are not “heavily subsisded”, because there is NOT a “cost” to the council of £1,000 for every car parked in the street. There’s a clear difference between real costs and a market rate maximum of what the council can get away with charging for people parking.

    I am well aware there is no “right” to park outside your house, but trying to imply that because the council is not charging the maximum amount it could for people to park that somehow council tax payers are subsidising motorists is simply the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard.

    That’s like saying the council COULD charge cyclists £5 for entering the city, but because they’re not, council tax payers are subsidising them to the tune of £5 per day per cyclist. And in fact could be applied to pretty much any group you can think of.

    I can’t speak for all motorists, but the reason I’m so against it is that it’s pure profiteering and won’t solve parking problems. REAL alternatives need to be offered such as GOOD public transport. I’m fed up with motorists continually being punished simply for choosing the best option for transport – it’s always the stick and never the carrot and it absolutely infuriates me. If public transport was reliable (it’s not) and and cheap (it’s most definitely not!) then more people would use it. I wouldn’t personally get rid of my car because I’m an “enthusiast” but I expect many people would. The other reason I’m against it is that I’m fed up with both central and local government bleating about the environment because I simply don’t buy the fact that they care in the slightest about it, it’s just seen as a nice way of making money. My cynicism is shared by a LOT of people, and until something can be done to change this (i.e. investment in alternatives rather than just taxing people!) then this won’t change.

    Whilst public transport is more expensive and less reliable and practical than a car, it’s simply unfair to expect drivers to make a significant change and threaten them with all manner of arbitrary charges if they don’t.

    Why should motorists subsidise people’s council tax? They already heavily subsidise a wealth of services due to the ridiculous levels of duty levied on petrol which does NOT go back into public transport or road maintenance.

  9. Chris Hutt says:

    Subsidy? It’s basic economics. If a service, such as provision of parking space, is charged for much less than its true market value then that is in effect a subsidy. The same as if the Council decided to offer every cyclist a new top-of-the-range £1,000 bicycle every year for just £40! You’d object to that quickly enough. What’s the difference?

    We could debate what the market value of a parking space is. My figure of £1,000 is a very rough stab, but without a free market operating it’s difficult to know. But I’d be very surprised if there weren’t a lot of people willing to pay £4 per day (50p per hour, less than the central CPZ Pay and Display rates) to park close to the city centre. They may not like it, but many would prefer to pay that than not use their cars. What do you think the market value would be?

    With regard to cyclists, yes, in principle they and all road users should pay for their use of the roads. We all pay anyway, but it’s surely fairer for those payments to be proportional to use. However the charges applicable to cyclists and walkers, as determined by market forces, are likely to be so small as to be impractical to collect on a pay-as-you-go basis.

  10. Dave says:

    It’s basic economics, but you’re twisting it to such a degree that it’s become completely ridiculous. You’re trying to say that because the council is not charging the maximum it could for all services, then council tax payers are in effect subsidising these services. This in effect is true, as in a Council Tax is supposed to pay for public services, but you’re somehow arguing that this is ONLY unfair when applied to car parking spaces, which you seem to be able to assign a completely arbitrary cost to almost like electricity bills for streetlighting or diesel for bin lorries.

    You seem to further take issue with non-car owners “subsidising” the parking spaces (even though they have no actual cost) but there are plenty of services my council tax pays for that as a young unmarried male I don’t benefit from that DO have measurable costs – community centres, funeral services, council housing, homeless shelters, schools and nurseries, but I don’t begrudge paying for them as that is what I understand Council Tax to be for.

    And I’d reiterate Pete’s earlier comment that even if all cars were charged £1000 to park outside their house, and people agreed to pay it, the chances of Council Tax being reduced are zero.

    I would also dispute your £1,000 a year figure – I’m not sure what you have based this figure on anyway but if the “market value” of a parking space in a city centre is £1,000 a year then by the very definition of market forces this clearly is NOT the market value for a parking space in a residential street outside of the centre. The city centre is home to shops, offices, etc that means going by market forces it is essentially worth more. And also don’t forget that something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it, and people simply wouldn’t pay £1,000 a year to park outside their own house, which automatically means that the market value of a space outside a house is NOT £1,000.

    I think your green anti-car viewpoint is blurring your outlook on this somewhat!

  11. Chris Hutt says:

    NCP charge up to £15 a day to park in the city centre. That’s almost £4,000 a year (based on working days). So £1,000 for an inner city space doesn’t seem inconsistent. In any case the market value can only be determined by the free operation of the market. I’m just suggesting the order of it. What do you think it is?

    As for the cost of providing those parking spaces, that has little to do with market value. I’ve invested over £100,000 worth of my time into cycle campaigning but have received nothing for it. Why? Because it has no market value. We’re all subject to these market forces whether we like it or not.

  12. thebristolblogger says:

    Applying market principles to national publicly-owned infrastructure is hardly a recipe for success.

    Rail network anyone?

  13. Chris Hutt says:

    The rail network was created by the free markets of the 19th century and for the most part it thrived as collection of private enterprises. It wasn’t till it was taken over by the government that the network was decimated in the 60s.

  14. Dave says:

    Another interesting point is that I’ve taken up cycling to work about 2 months ago (5 miles each way, for someone of my level of fitness I’m quite proud) to save on money and get fit. If the council are going to enforce this parking scheme by using wardens patrolling the streets, I could probably get away with not buying a permit and driving to work (outside of the proposed zone) where there’s off-street parking so when the wardens come round, the car’s not there. Whereas if I cycle, I’d be compelled to pay the charge as the car would be left at home for when I need to use it in the evenings or at weekends. Depending on how the scheme is monitored/enforced it could encourage me and others to drive more in order to avoid fines.

    For me the biggest pisstake is the Council’s refusal to differentiate HMOs from 1-family houses.

  15. Have I got the figures right here? Are we talking about charges of 11 pence 16 pence or 200 pence per day depending whether the household has one two, or three cars to park??

    Does Zoe Mack, quoted by BB, think its reasonable to drive to shops less than seven streets away??

  16. Hang on, isn’t it 136 p per day for three cars not 200??

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    Another environmentalist, another fan of Tory-style inequitable taxation …

    First up Vowlsie what’s to stop them putting the charge up once the principle of us paying another bloody tax for nothing has been established?

    The Police precept on our council tax has increased 180% since 1997. What’s to stop this parking charge doing the same?

    And when I go shopping I buy 6-8 bags of the stuff. How do you get that home? Can it fly on a carpet of environmentalists’ hot air?

  18. Dave says:

    Breaking the charge down to a “per day” cost in an attempt to make it sound less is meaningless. For 3 cars it’s £620 per year.

    You might argue that no family needs 3 cars – I’d agree with you, but would urge people (and the council, who is so far refusing) to recognise the difference between a family owning 3 cars and a HMO in which 3 totally unrelated people live who own cars. A family organises their lives around eachother, shares the costs of running the vehicles as well as the vehicles themselves, more often than not have a single insurance policy, so are able to cut down the number of caars that they need.

    A shared house of young professionals is not in the same situation at all. Each person can have a completely different place of work, often not reachable by public transport (which in bristol is woeful) or by bike, and other than living with eachother live completely different lives – most families do things together.

    The Council’s refusal to recognise this very clear difference proves conclusively that it’s all about the cash.

    If you think Local and National Government have cared about the environment, or ever will, you’re completely deluded. All this green talk seems to amount to one thing – taxes as punishment for doing the “wrong” thing, when the “right” thing is, most of the time, simply unworkable. If the local or national government actually does something to make a difference other than taxing the living shit out of its citizens then I might change my viewpoint. At the moment I’m firmly convinced it’s just about revenue.

  19. thebristolblogger says:

    Well said Dave. Of course it’s aout revenue. I pointed out earlier onCcharlie Bolton’s blog that corporation tax and inheritance taxes for the rich have been cut this year and now the government’s scratching around for new taxes like this one to balance the books.

    The fact that Greens and environmentalists are at the forefront of cheerleading these tax cuts for the rich and more taxes for the poor says it all really.

  20. Bluebaldee says:

    Chris can rabbit on all he likes about the market value of parking spaces and suchlike.

    It will cut zero ice with the ordinary person on the street.

    Until now we have been allowed to park our vehicles on the street for nothing.

    We have been allowed to receive as many visitors to our homes as we like, arriving in whichever mode of transport, without artificial limits being placed on this by local councils or anybody else.

    Charging for this is simply an additional tax designed to feed a bloated and rapacious State and introduce further controls on a cowed populace. Labour keeps wanting to tell us what to do and where to do it.

    If Chris really wants to talk about forces that we’re subject to, then how about the principal of supply and demand. If your street’s full, you can’t park on it. Simple.

    I completely agree with Dave and Bristol Blogger.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard such crap coming from Liar Bradshaw.

    FFS just sort out Public Transport or sod off. How many more times?

  21. Dave says:

    But this is the rub – they haven’t sorted out public transport. They’ve had years, and it’s just got worse. There are two possible reasons: either FirstBus have them over a barrel and they know it, or they’d prefer not to as it forces people to use cars, which they can then tax heavily under the guise of environmental issues.

    They can criticise motorists (and regularly do) for being so “selfish” as to dare to (shock horror!) drive a car, but when the complete and utter lack of viable alternatives is pointed out to both the council or the environmentalists they seem to go all quiet.

    I’m fucking fed up of all this self-satisfied attempted control-freakery from the greenies. If I want to drive my car and park it, I will.

  22. Chris Hutt says:

    Bluebaldee, I agree with most of what you say. I’m not expecting to win any fans by pointing out how valuable these parking places are and how ridiculously little motorists are being asked to pay for them, but it’s the truth and somebody’s got to draw attention to it. I can do it because I’ve got nothing to lose.

    But I do resent the suggestion that I’m in favour of taxing the poor. The poorest households are the least likely to have cars so the least likely to benefit from a continuing subsidy of car ownership. A third of households in the proposed Residents Parking Scheme areas have no cars, so were talking about a very substantial proportion who continue to be disadvantaged by this subsidy. But you lot only seem interested in car owners.

  23. Dave says:

    Chris – just as a note, you say that motorists are being asked to pay “ridiculously little” for the parking spaces but you might want to remember that the reason that motorists (who I’d like to remind you aren’t just some evil group like the ABD by the way, most families own a car and therefore by definition are “motorists”) are annoyed about the proposed charges is that we are by far and away the highest taxed group in the country. 80% of the price of petrol at the pump goes straight in tax, and we also pay a large amount for Vehicle Excise Duty. We are also subject to one of the only known instances of being taxed on tax, whereby the VAT calculation on fuel also includes the fuel duty. There’s also congestion charges planned for Bristol, and now this.

    I would be happy to be taxed to these frankly absurd levels if it meant that I could take less car journeys due to investment in public transport but the UK invests of the lowest percentages of car tax revenue into public transport, and Bristol is one of the lowest in the country. Take a look at the public transport in France, Germany, even Poland for god’s sake. Everywhere has far better public transport infrastructure than us. I just resent being told by the government that I’m being taxed so highly because I’m making the “wrong” public transport choice by driving, how very dare I, when they know as well as I do that VIABLE alternatives just don’t exist.

    Please stop incorrectly stating that car owners are being subsidised! This is simply not true as it would rely on two statements – firstly, a real and accountable cost faced by the council (as in one that they actually have to state on their expenditure) as opposed to an arbitrary one you’ve plucked out of thin air, and secondly if car owners were being subsidised then once the parking charges were introduced the “balance would be redressed” and people’s council tax would reduce. Since you know as well as I do this patently won’t happen then in actual fact the subsidy doesn’t exist, except in your head.

  24. BB – I note that you avoid saying yes to my questions about how little per day the cost will be. It would be an admission wouldn’t it. Dont forget that people have a vote on this. In the future any group with plans to raise the charges would be subject to election and people could throw them out if they felt strongly enough.

    I also note that you attempt to defend people driving extremely short distances. No wonder that so many journeys are less than 2 miles long. There are alternatives, including for getting your bulk shopping you know.

    There is so much small c conservatism out there about changes needed to move us away from car culture. Such is the emotional attachment I guess.

    I’m very much with a lot of what Chris Hutt has said. I’d particularly back him when he said this:
    ‘But I do resent the suggestion that I’m in favour of taxing the poor. The poorest households are the least likely to have cars so the least likely to benefit from a continuing subsidy of car ownership. A third of households in the proposed Residents Parking Scheme areas have no cars, so were talking about a very substantial proportion who continue to be disadvantaged by this subsidy. But you lot only seem interested in car owners.’

    Is the car-obsessed culture such a good one? Do you really think it can be sustained and at what price? BB uses the word environmentalist as if its a criticism in itself – I’d like to see him live without his environment !!

  25. Chris Hutt says:

    Dave, you don’t seem to understand what a subsidy is in this context. I’ll try to explain once more.

    The City council own and manage land on behalf of the people of Bristol, car owners and non car owners alike. If they sell or rent out this land they have a duty to obtain the best price for it, unless they intend to subsidise the users of the land by offering it for less than its market value.

    The market value is determined by the market, not by the cost of supplying the land. If the Council choose to subsidise the users of the land by charging less than the market value then that should be done in an open way so the public can scrutinise that decision and question it if they don’t think it is justified.

    In the case of the land being made available for residents car parking, its market value is clearly in the order of £1,000 per year (no one has suggested an alternative ball park figure). That market value has nothing to do with the cost of providing the land but is determined by supply and demand. 50 years ago the supply of land for parking generally exceeded demand so the market value would have been low. Today the demand far exceeds the supply so the market value is high.

    The Council are offering this land for parking but at a price which is a tiny fraction of its true value. But this subsidised land will only be available to car owners. Someone who does not have a car but would like to use a plot of this land (say for planting and beautifying the street) will not be allowed to do so. So only car owners are allowed to access this benefit.

    Now you may think that’s right and proper, taking account of other taxes paid by motorists. You’re entitled to that point of view. But I don’t understand how you can dispute that motorists will be receiving a substantial subsidy by being offered land worth £1,000 per year for just £40/£80.

    I’m not trying to characterise motorists as an evil group. I am one myself and I will receive this valuable subsidy too, so I’m not complaining from a personal point of view. I may even become the “registered keeper” of a second vehicle to take advantage of the second car per household subsidy, which should earn me around £1,000 per year. As for the 100 x £1 visitor permits, I shall certainly be hawking these around for say £5 each, making another nice little profit of £400.

    I just find it bizarre that the Council should set up a system which will undoubtedly be abused in a similar fashion by many. Wouldn’t it make more sense to charge the market rate for the parking places and use the additional revenue to give a cash rebate to all households (or to those on lower incomes if you like) so that they can then decide for themselves how to spend the money?

  26. inks says:

    As this thread already contains an apparently sincerely meant threat to kill cyclists I hope no-one will object to my suggestion that random roadside executions of car-drivers might help reduce car use.

  27. BB – you said ‘The fact that Greens and environmentalists are at the forefront of cheerleading these tax cuts for the rich and more taxes for the poor says it all really.’

    This is ridiculous, untrue and you know it – you’ve seen the tone and content of the local green blogs. Greens have a radical, progressive set of economic/tax policies as a quick look at the Green Party website confirms. http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssec.html

  28. Sceptic says:

    @inks:

    As a means of cutting congestion I’ve always advocated the re-introduction of hanging from the nearest lamp-post for motorists parking on double yellow lines.

    I think we might have a common policy platform here.

  29. thebristolblogger says:

    Vowlsie, Vowlsie, Vowlsie,

    Yes I’ve seen plenty of Green policy and manifesto documents. And yes they set out a very progressive system for taxation.

    Which begs the question: why are you and Charlie supporting regressive taxes at the local level?

    They’re entirely against the spirit of your own economic and taxation policies aren’t they?

    If you seriously believe that imposing higher relative rates of taxation on the poor than on the rich is progressive then you either have your head up your arse or you don’t understand your own party’s policies.

  30. ConcernedOfSouthville says:

    Totally agree with Zoe Mack’s comments. Wish this was made more publically available. The whole consultation is slanted con, and I note that through unsound planning and property management we’ve arrived at a situation whereby multiple car owning households (mainly made up of individuals -and NOT multiple car owning individuals) will suffer greatly (note that in some situations only one permit will be available -namely southville one would imagine). And for what (?) so that a scheme that may actually work in the leafy suburbs of Clifton -where commuter parking is an issue, will be forced upon the wider residences of Bristol.

  31. Chris Hutt says:

    BB, why do you insist on calling the RPS proposals regressive taxation?

    If anything they are a form of regressive subsidy, whereby motorists receive valuable parking spaces either free of charge (status quo) or for a nominal amount (RPS), but those who don’t own cars receive nothing.

    Is it not obvious that car ownership correlates with wealth? There may be anomalies, but in general the poorest are least likely to own cars so least likely to benefit from the subsidy.

  32. thebristolblogger says:

    Chris,

    I’m using the term ‘regressive taxation’ in exactly the way you would find it in any standard economic text book.

    If you and the Greens in Bristol wish to rewrite the fundamental economic rules on taxation to suit yourselves, you’re obviously free to do so but I doubt the majority of people will be taking up this language of regressive subsidy or inverting the classical meanings of regressive and progressive.

  33. I’m happy to address all your point in turn BB. See what you think, though I suspect we may be irreconcilable.

    BB said – ‘Yes I’ve seen plenty of Green policy and manifesto documents. And yes they set out a very progressive system for taxation.’

    Well thanks for that but does it not mean you should withdraw any prvious inaccurate generalisations about Greens?

    BB said – ‘Which begs the question: why are you and Charlie supporting regressive taxes at the local level?’

    I do not regard the residents parking scheme as regressive because it takes us forward (not backwards as the term suggests) as far as parking/congestion is concerned. What is regressive is resisting changes to car-obsessed culture despite what the facts tell us. The classification into regressive/progressive tax is not as black and white as you suggest. There is a loose correlation with wealth level, though its not always clear cut and its not an ideal scheme. The charge proposed is relatively small at between 11p, 16p and 200p per day depending on car numbers I believe, which wont break the bank. Because you keep repeating the description ‘regressive tax’ does not mean it becomes true BB. I’d like a whole package of transport and other measures to go along with residents parking, as I’m sure would Charlie Bolton, not least major investment in the local economy and in public transport… and acknowledge that such things would make the whole package fairer – but then I’m not running the council/govt and this is not my scheme .

    BB said- ‘They’re entirely against the spirit of your own economic and taxation policies aren’t they?’

    No, residents parking may only contribute in a small way to building what greens want, a sustainable society, but it is part of the package given current circumstances. I’d love to be in a position to apply the whole of the greens strategy but unfortuneately in my view Bristol’s got people like Helen Holland and Mark Bradshaw instead. Doh!

    BB said – ‘If you seriously believe that imposing higher relative rates of taxation on the poor than on the rich is progressive then you either have your head up your arse or you don’t understand your own party’s policies.’

    Hmm, more unfair argument technique than genuine debate here I think BB. First you use words like ‘impose’ when you know people have a vote on residents parking schemes. Second you use the word taxation in place of residents parking scheme because you know people generally dont like taxation and may be more likely to side with you as a result. Third, you resort to (anatomically impossible!) insult which is often a sure sign that you have nothing better to say. As I said earlier, and as Chris Hutt has also argued, I dont accept your assertion that residents parking schemes are regressive – they take us a step forward with parking/congestion management, the charge level is not great, there is some relation to wealth level. Its not an ideal scheme but on balance I support it. Why are you siding with others who cling to the existing car culture, clearly demonstrating their conservatism? Change has to come because we cant sustain what we have.

    I know the greens policies very well and have helped to shape them along with others over 25 yrs of ongoing involvement in green politics and environmental education. Despite saying that you’ve seen plenty of green policies you persist in misrepresenting them BB – I assume its convenient for your agenda to do so, but the ethics of this approach are surely dubious.

  34. BB – have you ever thought that running our economy according to what a standard economics textbook tells us might in fact be a very bad idea? Part of the problem or part of the solution ? I know what my answer is – what’s yours? Stay with the confines laid out in standard texts or build a new economics and politics?

  35. redzone says:

    how do you think the parking & congestion charges will impact on self employed tradesman like me & countless thousands of others??
    we NEED our vehicles to transport our tools & materials to our places of work which can sometimes change on a daily basis!!
    to try to justify the plans as a means of creating a greener healthier environment is a smokescreen for yet another method of increasing revenue, whilst slowly taxing the working man to death!!!!
    enough is enough!!!!!

  36. thebristolblogger says:

    I do not regard the residents parking scheme as regressive because it takes us forward (not backwards as the term suggests) as far as parking/congestion is concerned.

    Well that’s as maybe. You can believe the moon’s made of cheese too if you like but take a look at the standard definitions of progressive and regressive taxation (from Wikipedia):

    A progressive tax is a tax imposed so that the tax rate increases as the amount subject to taxation increases.[In simple terms, it imposes a greater burden (relative to resources) on the rich than on the poor.

    A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases. In simple terms, it imposes a greater burden (relative to resources) on the poor than on the rich.

    So why are you disagreeing with simple dictionary definitions of words and phrases? The impression you create is that you know nothing about taxation or economics.

    Because you keep repeating the description ‘regressive tax’ does not mean it becomes true BB

    Er yes it does! Look it up in a dictionary:

    you use the word taxation in place of residents parking scheme because you know people generally dont like taxation and may be more likely to side with you as a result

    You’re disagreeing with the dictionary again Vowlsie (again from Wikipedia):

    A tax is a financial charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state (for example, secessionist movements or revolutionary movements).

    Now which part of this parking charge doesn’t meet those criteria? On the contrary you’re a run-of-the-mill con artist politician trying to pretend a tax is not a tax!

    Have you ever thought that running our economy according to what a standard economics textbook tells us might in fact be a very bad idea? Part of the problem or part of the solution ? I know what my answer is – what’s yours? Stay with the confines laid out in standard texts or build a new economics and politics?

    I think it might be useful if you understood what those text books say before you singlehandedly start rewriting them. Indeed understanding a few basic definitions and principles of economics may well be invaluable to you in your attempt to overturn the combined works and wisdom of Adam Smith, Ricardo and Marx.

  37. redzone says:

    in reply to ‘inks’ earlier post, i think car users would be a little kinder to cyclists if they obeyed the general rules of the road,
    ie, stick to the road & not the pavement, obey traffic signals & use lights at night, all of which have seemed to have become optional choices!!

    & for the record, i’m a regular cyclist too!!!!

  38. Bluebaldee says:

    Chris,

    The combination of residents parking fees, which will surely rise year on year, combined with the forthcoming CONgestion Charge will most definitely hit the poorer members of society hardest. They will be paying disproportionately more for their transport costs because of these policies.

    I take your point that some of the poorest in society do not own cars – but the majority, even in low income streams, most certainly do.

    And they drive cars for very good reasons, most of which have been outlined in previous posts.

    Bristol has one of the highest per capita rates of car ownership in the country as a direct result of our poor quality public transport infrastructure.

    Many families who, if they lived in other cities probably wouldn’t run a vehicle, have no choice in Bristol because of the impracticality, expense and unreliability of our public transport.

    The cost of motoring, whilst previously relatively low, has now increased dramatically, so it’s hitting these people particularly hard and your relish for parking fees and suchlike will not exactly be welcomed.

    I earn above the average UK wage but because I work in Wiltshire and do around 60 miles a day in my car, I’m really feeling the pinch as well.

    Vowlsie – “Why are you siding with others who cling to the existing car culture, clearly demonstrating their conservatism? ”

    Good God man, do you walk around with your eyes shut?

    Your assertion that we’re “clinging to car culture” makes it sound as if we’ve all got easy choices to make and that our motoring is somehow done out of spite, rather than necessity.

    Believe you me, I fight through Bristol’s traffic to get to work everyday because if I didn’t drive I would have to take 3 buses and 2 and a half hours EACH WAY (if the buses run to schedule and turn up).

    I also have a baby. I don’t know if you have kids yourself, but if you don’t you are probably unaware of the huge amount of paraphenalia that accompanies them.

    You must also be aware of the parlous state of Bristol’s public transport. And the snail’s pace of change and improvement.

    So, far from being conservative and clinging to car culture, I and many others, are simply driving through necessity.

    I walk and cycle everywhere locally, but on many occasions I simply have to drive.

    This car-free, communal transportation utopia only exists in your head, I’m afraid Vowlsie.

    It is certainly no reflection of reality on the ground in Bristol.

    I bang on about public transport on these pages, and in the Evil Post and other media, precisely because I’m passionate about improving it, and disgusted with what we’ve got. I’m a member of FOSBR and would dearly love to see someone with imagination, drive and ability come in and sort our transport woes out.

    But this has and is not happening, so I have no choice but to protect the only reliable means of transport that I have – my car.

    You may call it “clinging to car culture” or “conservatism”.

    I call it living in the real world.

  39. Gary Hopkins says:

    To deny that this is a regressive tax is of course absurd.Real environmental taxes can be beneficial but they have to be accompanied by a rebalancing of the system which at the moment, due in no small part to New Labour , is unfair to low income earners.
    It is noticeable that the suggestion of the environment scrutiny committee a few months ago that larger cars pay more and smaller ones pay less has been airbrushed out.
    3 reasons for the recommendation.
    1 Large cars take up more room
    2 They polute more.
    3 Not many low earners drive Chelsea tractors around Brisol.
    The committee was not saying they were for or against the scheme but merely that if the administration brought it in this would improve it.

    If this scheme is brought in there will be a domino effect and residents in areas just outside the scheme will suffer increased commuter parking.

  40. Chris Hutt says:

    Bluebaldee wrote “The combination of residents parking fees, which will surely rise year on year, combined with the forthcoming CONgestion Charge will most definitely hit the poorer members of society hardest.”

    As will any rise in the cost of living or any new charge. The congestion charge in particular is intended to force poorer people off the roads to keep them clear for wealthier people (but there may be an alternative to that).

    But we can’t seriously argue for the creation of an equal society, where everyone is equally poor, as a prerequisite for dealing with traffic and environmental issues, can we? We have to accept that it’s poorer people who will be obliged to adapt to rising motoring costs .

    One way that poorer people will adjust is to give up car ownership and use. It’s already happening. So the days of ever increasingly car ownership may be at an end anyway. We may even see car ownership rates begin to decline.

    If so it will become even more important to recognise the value of the subsidies received by motorists (such as free on-street parking) with a view to progressively removing them, since these will increasingly be subsidies to wealthier people at the expense of poorer people.

    In any case there is already a large proportion (about a third) of households in the areas where RPS is proposed who do not have cars. In shared houses there will be many more individuals who do not have cars even if the household as a whole is counted as having one or two cars.

    As for investment in public transport, this alone will never provide a viable alternative to the car. The only thing that comes anywhere near to providing a similar degree of flexibility and convenience to the car is cycling backed up with public transport for longer journeys. But we’re still a very long way from allowing the potential of cycling to develop.

  41. Blogger – I believe you are blinkered and not prepared to explore new economic ground. You dont really address the reasoning and detail in my last posting, most of which you just ignore. This is a conservative outlook and its regressive (there more than one meaning you know, it can mean opposing progress) – you look back, fondly it seems, to the past and to the comfortable world of economics texbooks. Its a simple, straightforward, unchanging world you live in…. Meanwhile, the worlds problems mount up!

    Bluebaldee – I acknowledge what you say about your own travel circumstances. I would say that certainly there are others are in the same boat. The government and council have not made making green choices as easy and practical as it could and should be. However, this does not mean there isn’t significant conservative resistance to change out there amongst drivers generally – it would be a surprise if it didn’t exist. Just look at the vitriol spewed out against the recently won money for cycling in Bristol as one example. It does not mean that all individuals drive out of pure necessity (far from it) – many, many journeys are less than 2 miles long for intsance.

    Perhaps I should stick with the conventional, the accepted, the popular and comfortable, tell people what they want to hear – and get elected onto the council or into parliament!? That ‘s the usual, easy route there. Not in my nature I’m afraid.

    Interesting how Gary Hopkins chips in after a lot of debate has already happened! Not that he commits himself to a lot or answers many questions. Are Lib dems opposed to residents parking schemes then Gary? On grounds that they are a pure and simple regressive tax? Your contribution itself show that the nature of residents parking schemes is not fixed as the Bristol Blogger seems to think it is.

  42. Dave says:

    Interesting the cycling grant was mentioned – despite being an ardent petrolhead who is very much against all the anti-car vibe both in taxes (because the proposed parking charge is precisely that, another “green tax”) and in comments posted here I actually strongly support the cycling grant, even with the sum of money being matched by taxpayers. Anything to get the cyclists out of my way when I’m driving/walking, and to get the cars (and buses!) out of my way when I’m cycling to work. As a cyclist and a driver I feel seperation is the key here. I’ve managed to make my route to work as off road as possible (you’d be surprised how many secluded lanes/paths there are if you look for them) and it’s so much nicer than sitting behind cars. The more cycle paths the better!

    Also to pick up on Vowles’ point – “The government and council have not made making green choices as easy and practical as it could and should be.”

    Nail on the head. Or to put it another way, they’re more concerned about making revenue from “green” taxes rather than actually making green choices easy and practical. Hence the resentment from already heavily-taxed motorists.

  43. Good to hear you support cycling Dave. I agree with what you say on it generally. I guess you ackowledge that a true green tax is one that is aimed primarily at behaviour/cultural change in a green direction not at raising money – and therefore it is often being misused by people as the term is used more and more often. Do you (and Gary Hopkins since he seems to be opposed to it) not think that the residents parking scheme is aimed at changing behaviour and bringing green benefits in this way – after all it aims to favour parking by residents, visitors and local businesses, as opposed to commuters, as well as other bringing other beneficial changes. Is this not progressive in the sense that it takes us forward ie a small green step forward? I wonder if the whole of Bristol should have it personally.

    BB you quoted this definition of a regressive tax,

    ‘A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases. In simple terms, it imposes a greater burden (relative to resources) on the poor than on the rich.’

    Lets have a look at it. Its frankly not good enough for you to quote it and assert that it applies to residents parking schemes – you should demonstrate it.

    I think that residents parking schemes are not a clear cut and consistent good example of a regressive tax (as defined above) for the reasons that follow. It seems to me that the more parking you require the more you have to pay which appears to be the opposite of regressive(QED?). The poorest people are likely to have no car and therefore pay nothing unless paying for car using visitors. Any individuals owning and wanting to park more than one car (ie wealthier people) pay a higher rate the more cars they own. A family household with one car pays less than one with two which pays less than one with three…again the household is wealthier if its running more cars and so pays more. In houses occupied by unrelated people the picture is more mixed because the wealth is not within a family, though nevertheless multi-occupants means multiple incomes, and if they can each afford to run a car it can surely be argued that they are not poor (though I acknowledge that this depends who you are making a comparison with, or whether you define poor non-relatively). There will of course be a discount system for low-income households. People requiring constant visits to meet care needs get free visitor permits. General green benefits may well result, which is a progressive step.

    So Blogger, and your supporter Cllr Gary Hopkins it seems, what do you think.?

  44. thebristolblogger says:

    Well done Chris:

    We have to accept that it’s poorer people who will be obliged to adapt to rising motoring costs

    You’re the first person, in favour of these taxes, to acknowledge the obvious fact that they will disproportionately affect the poor.

    Why are Greens and environmentalists so in denial about this?

    Vowlsie – you’re not breaking “new economic ground”. Taxation is about 5,000 years old and, while I’m no expert on the history of car parking, parking charges have probably been around for as long as the car I suspect.

  45. Bluebaldee says:

    I too am delighted about the Cycling City status and the investment that this will bring.

    It’s just such a pity that money can’t be found to improve the public transport network.

    A few weeks ago the DfT website announced £42 million for the Greater Bristol Bus Network, directly below another press release trumpeting £230 million grant for Greater Manchester. The Govt. just isn’t serious about improving transport in Bristol, that’s why I remain entirely cynical about Resident’s Parking, CONgestion Charges etc etc.

    You only have to look at the West of England Partnership’s latest Transport Update to see the “improvements” that are to be made prior to the imposition of demand management. A couple of Rapid Transit routes (buses). A couple of Park and Rides and, err, that’s it.

    Virtually no rail improvements or indeed anything else of substance. We’re simply being strung along as the Govt. and their local apologists increase the tax burden on the motorist.

    In the mid-nineties I lived on the outskirts of Paris for three years and never owned a car. Brilliant, cheap, reliable trains, trams and buses. Loved it. I went to Hannover a couple of years ago – same thing. Absolutely fantastic.

    I’m amazed when I hear Chris claim that public transport cannot provide a viable alternative to the car. It can for most journeys and works very well in European cities.

    It can be done but the political will to invest just isn’t there, so until it is the Govt/Council can stuff their Parking and Congestion taxes, regardless of their moral/commercial qualities.

    Vowlsie/ Chris, guys, I just don’t buy the “poorer people subsidising wealthier people” slant on this at all.

    Removing a previously free “subsidy” will have a larger negative impact on someone less well off than it would on a wealthy person. Charging someone to drive through a city will have a larger negative impact on a less well off person than it would on a wealthy person.

    These taxes are imposed where none existed before so they are bound to weigh more heavily on those least able to pay them. If the choice existed to do away with the car then these taxes would be far more equitable, but that choice does not exist for the majority of people.

    The argument that it’s somehow a good thing to force poorer people out of their cars is one that I don’t agree with. The emphasis should be on improving public transport for all so a choice exists, then taxing those that refuse to use public transport. Forcing the easisest targets out of their cars through the tax system to “alleviate congestion” smacks of Orwellian social engineering, dressed up in green.

    Whatever you think of it, motoring is truly a social leveller. Its flexibility, freedom and time-saving benefits can be enjoyed by the vast majority of people in this country, not just the rich.

    And Chris-

    “We have to accept that it’s poorer people who will be obliged to adapt to rising motoring costs . ”

    Why? They’ll only be forced off the roads if these charges that you champion are imposed.

    Why not improve public transport first and then give people a real choice?

    You like sticks. I like carrots.

  46. Gary Hopkins says:

    I think Mr Vowles exposes his one dimensional thinking. I and the Lib Dem party are very much in favour of taxes that tackle excessive consumtion but you have when looking at regressive taxes ,as many could be, to take account of wealth and ability to payas well.
    The concept of the RPZ itself is ok IF
    1 The residents genuinely want it
    2 It is not used as a revenue raising exercise.
    3 It is administered efficiently and residents get what they are paying for.
    4 As a consequence of 1-3 that the individual scheme be flexible in design so that the restrictions and charges are appropriate.
    We have doubts about the ability of the present administration to deliver this and unfortunately the very well deserved negative image built up over many years of sham consultations will be a big factor.
    The syphoning off of money has already been highlighted by my colleage Mark Wright and I am sure as they pull together the detailswe will find other problems.
    Two more questions
    Why should a Chelsea tractor pay no more that a smart car?
    What is the costed role for enforcement and what contribution are we going to get from the PCSOs ?
    It seems now that Bradshaw is rubbishing the option of Ultra Light Rail as he is frightened that central gov. will withdraw money if we say we want this instead of BRT.!!!

  47. Peter Goodwin says:

    So that’s the LibDem position…. It’s ok if the LibDems do it, but not if Labour does it. Predictable, I suppose. And this from the largest party on the council, which refused to take power when it was offered.

    As for anxieties about ULR, isn’t there some daft anomoly in the government funding rules that doesn’t include ULR in the same funding regime as BRT ? Can anyone throw light on this?

  48. Dave says:

    “Why not improve public transport first and then give people a real choice?

    You like sticks. I like carrots.”

    Hear bloody hear.

    This is the point I’ve been trying to make.

  49. Chris Hutt says:

    BB said “Well done Chris: ….You’re the first person, in favour of these taxes, to acknowledge the obvious fact that they will disproportionately affect the poor.”

    I’m NOT in favour of these “taxes” since they are not taxes at all but a massive subsidy to car owners. I’ve specifically criticised the RPS on my blog and elsewhere for this reason.

    I would be inclined to favour charging for parking spaces according to their market value. The funds raised could then be used to reduce Council Tax and/or support other expenditure of public benefit (even public transport infrastructure).

    But it’s obvious that “the poor” are least able to continue as normal regardless of rising costs (charges, taxes, whatever) and are those who will be under the greatest pressure to adapt, by for example giving up owning or using cars (although the poorest are unlikely to own cars in the first place).

    That’s always been the case and as far as I’m aware no one here is proposing an “equal” society where everyone is equally poor. Our unequal society, more sharply divided than for many decades, is the system we have to live and work with, whether we like it or not (and guess what – I don’t).

  50. Cllr Gary Hopkins criticises me for, apparently, one-dimensional thinking but gives no reasons and no substance to justify it – mere assertion is all it is therfore. He makes zero comment on my reasoning about regressive taxation – very poor indeed Gary. He criticises residents parking mostly because its being done under Labour – a pathetic, pure-politics-little-rational-thinking reaction.

    No critic of my line of argument in this discussion has commented on the detail of what I said about regressive taxation (Gary Hokins, Bluebaldee, Dave, Bristol Blogger…).

    Blogger, our society is begiining to look at using taxation in new ways, though parking is far from the most new/radical. That’s why there is so much use (and misuse) of the term ‘green tax’. Greens are certainly advocating a new economics.

    Bluebaldee – you said ‘ motoring is truly a social leveller. Its flexibility, freedom and time-saving benefits can be enjoyed by the vast majority of people in this country, not just the rich.’ Is this the same motoring that costs us a fortune in lost working time? Annually kills thousands in accidents and tens of thousands via air pollution, injures tens of thousands in accidents? Cuts the quality of our lives with the stress and noise? Has global as well local impacts via climate change, oil depletion, causing people to temporarily switch to boats and boots after the Gloucestershire flooding? Disproportionately dominates the lives of many? Any flexibility/freedom/time-saving, such as it was, has surely gone down the drain or is going that way rapidly.

    I do have some sympathy with Dave’s last posting. If I had my way I’d at least triple public transport investment but I dont think even this would solve all the parking, congestion, climate change, air pollution… problems. We do need both ‘carrots and sticks’ to crack the transport nut ! And there will be both winners and losers because of this. Council and government are to blame for the underinvestment and for calling certain taxes ‘green taxes’ when in fact they are a very poor excuse for them.

  51. Dave says:

    But Vowles, where are the carrots? I can count plenty of sticks.

  52. I take your point Dave. There are far too few carrots. Investment in public transport is seriously lacking.

    There are the bus rapid transit plans, an expanded city car club and the new money for cycling and some half decent changes with regard to regional rail, maybe others I’ve forgotten…but there should and could be much, much more I agree. But that’s the situation we have.

  53. Dave says:

    …Which is why I and many other motorists are against this resident’s parking tax (and no it’s not a ****ing subsidy!!!!).

    QED.

  54. Dave, its not QED. Obviously you and I see the balance of all the arguments differently.The poor state of public transport is one factor against, though we can expect some improvements, along with more cycling and more car clubs cars…. There are many factors in favour of residents parking, not least putting off commuters who currently are encouraged by the availability of parking to drive into the city, causing a wide range of problems: congestion; air pollution; stress; road safety issues; climate change; police/ambulance/fire service access problems; disability access issues, and more. All of which will have a bigger impact on the poorer and more vulnerable people than on the rich.

    Perhaps we just give more weight to different aspects in the balance?

  55. redzone says:

    chris hutt’s suggestion that the funds raised could help reduce the council tax (lmfao) is the most unlikely event suggested in this debate!!
    it’s just a revenue making scheme, easy money, with minimal effort.
    all the green talk is waffle & goes over the heads of ordinary working people like me.
    people are struggling to make ends meet as it is without the extra burden of parking & congestion charges.

  56. ConcernedOfSouthville says:

    “There are many factors in favour of residents parking, not least putting off commuters who currently are encouraged by the availability of parking to drive into the city, causing a wide range of problems: congestion; air pollution; stress; road safety issues; climate change; police/ambulance/fire service access problems; disability access issues, and more”

    i’d venture that it isn’t commuters contributing to the city’s problems in the vast majority of the cases. It is local people, held to ransom by Firstbus’s appallingly high ticket prices, and bad traffic management stretiching back over a number of years (in fact, so stupid have some of the traffic flow measures been that I wonder if certain planners have receiveed a mandate to increase traffic problems in order for an excuse for BCC to impose congestion taxes in the first place!). And if road safety was an issue, simply limiting the vast number of conversions of houses to multiple occupancy dwellings, and policing the streets more effectively would have solved 90% of the problem. Instead, this solution actually penalises the less well off who need a car to afford travel in and around this city, or who find themself sharing a house through limited income.

  57. Dave says:

    Agreed. Not to mention the ridiculous suggestion that somehow charging people to park outside their own house is somehow a “subsidy”. If every citizen of the UK paid £1,000 to park outside their house, and Bristol City Council decided to only charge it’s citizens £40 or £80 then yes, it would be a (rather large) subsidy. However, since MOST citizens of the UK pay….ooh, let’s see….F*CK ALL, to park outside their house , then it’s a TAX, and to try and persuade us otherwise is simply an insult to our intelligence.

    How on earth do you expect people to be open to the idea of change if you shove this kind of enviro-cockwaffle in their face?

    All I want is that I (and others!) am presented with some kind of a choice before I’m taxed completely arbitrarily for choosing the “wrong” one. Is that too much to ask?

  58. Dave says:

    P.S. – ConcernedOfSouthville – Spot on.

  59. Bluebaldee says:

    Well Dave, you’re not going to get a choice if the West of England Partnership, Mark Bradshaw and the rest of our weak-minded Council gets their way.

    Want to see exactly what kind of “choice” Bristolians are going to get before CONgestion Charging is imposed>

    Look no further than here: http://www.westofengland.org/downloads/Our_Future_Transport_Update_1_March_2008.pdf

    Yep, that’s right. The improvements to Greater Bristol’s public transport network will be:

    1, Rapid Transit (a bus running part of the way on a separate bit of concrete) from Bristol to Hengrove.

    2, Rapid Transit (a bus running part of the way on a separate bit of concrete) from Bristol to the shops at Cribbs Causeway.

    3, Rapid Transit ( a bus running part of the way on a separate bit of concrete) from Emerson’s Green to the Filton area.

    4, A new Park and Ride somwhere around the M32.

    5, A new Park and Ride in Whitchurch.

    6, Errr, that’s it.

    All this to cost over £840 million and apparently the “substantial improvements” (their words) that we’ve been promised to Bristol’s public transport.

    And apparently a viable alternative to the car and ample justification for a CONgestion charge.

    Do they think we’re all fucking mad?

    At least Manchester started from a far better transport system and is using their £3billion to build tram lines and improve rail services.

    Bristol and WEP’s total lack of imagination and utter, arrogant disdain for Bristolians truly knows no bounds.

    Give us a half-decent public transport system that most European cities and some other UK cities take for granted and we’ll use it. Then bring in your Congestion Charge.

    Instead they try and fob us off with this shitty collection of barely-half measures and then try and sting us with a CONgestion Charge when we STILL have no choice but to drive.

    Words cannot express the contempt I hold for these useless clowns.

    Now that they have outlined and published their plans, let’s have a referendum on these proposals, just like the one that Greater Manchester is going to hold.

    Come on – I dare you.

  60. Chris Hutt says:

    Dave said “If every citizen of the UK paid £1,000 to park outside their house, and Bristol City Council decided to only charge it’s citizens £40 or £80 then yes, it would be a (rather large) subsidy.”

    But the spaces are WORTH £1,000 (or something like that). Yet they are offered to motorists either free or for nominal amounts. That’s what makes it a subsidy. But clearly no one is willing to see that because it doesn’t fit with the highly emotional reaction to the RPS proposals.

    There will be no solution to the problem of congestion, pollution, parking, piss-poor public transport, intimidation of cyclists and walkers and a grotty street environment if the public don’t understand how markets operate to resolve problems of supply and demand.

    When road space is offered at much less than its market value you get congestion. When parking places are offered at much less than their market value you can’t find an empty parking space. When travel is subsidised people travel more. It’s all elementary economics.

  61. redzone says:

    i think a lot of the parking problem, again stems from the council planners.
    there are far to many double yellow lines in areas where, quite honestly they don’t serve any real purpose or are not really needed.
    the planners have pretty much fucked up the flow of traffic through bristol & are in the midst of creating more fuck ups with the introduction of lights at the m32/st pauls roundabout & god forbid!!, the mini roundabout at the top of muller rd/fishponds rd !!!
    all of course to control the flow, create more tailbacks & fully justify their congestion charge!

    bcc,w e p?? useless tossers, the lot of ’em!!

  62. Chris Hutt says:

    Another one I meant to pick up on earlier..

    Bluebaldee wrote “I’m amazed when I hear Chris claim that public transport cannot provide a viable alternative to the car. It can for most journeys and works very well in European cities.”

    I grew up in Bristol in the 50s so I remember when there were very few cars and pretty much everyone walked and used buses, which were frequent, cheap and, because you paid the conductor after boarding, reasonably quick. It was about as good a public transport system as you could expect for a city of the size of Bristol.

    Yet as soon as people could afford cars most bought them so by the 60s the bus service was falling into decline. In the beginning it wasn’t a question of people being forced to buy cars by a poor public transport system as you all wish to believe. It was a case of the new motorists abandoning what was then a good public transport system and so causing its demise.

    Mass use of cars has also dramatically changed our patterns of travel. The city centre is no longer the hub for all journeys as it was with the bus network. People are now accustomed to travel further and far more frequently, and in a much more dispersed pattern, as a consequence of car ownership.

    So going back to a public transport based system with predominantly radial routes to the city centre would mean giving up the flexibility and convenience of the car and traveling less often and less far. That’s why I say that public transport is not a viable alternative to the car.

  63. Dave says:

    Chris, the market value of a commodity (in this case, parking spaces) is defined as the price that it could presumably be purchased or sold – or to put it another way, something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. Given that:
    1) Most citizens pay nothing to park outside their house (and those that do in limited areas of Bath and London pay less than we do) and
    2) people are balking at the current proposed prices;

    what on earth makes you think people are willing to pay £1,000 to park outside their house?

    Since it’s clear that they’re not, then the true market value is obviously not what you’re trying to make out, therefore it is not a subsidy.

    Also as a side note, a lack of parking in residential areas is noto a large contributor to congestion. Gated traffic light systems and poor traffic planning does though 😉

  64. Dave says:

    *sorry, meant to say “Those that do in limited areas of Bath and London pay less than we WOULD”.

    I guess that’s letting my true feelings known on how much the city’s views will matter with the CONsultation.

  65. Chris Hutt says:

    Dave, people are willing to pay up to £15 a day to park in the city centre (NCP), so the value of parking spaces just outside the centre can hardly be zero. As I said before, I don’t “know” what the value is because that can only be determined by allowing a free market to operate. Where some sort of market operates (city centre CPZ) it is clear that the value is of a higher order than I have suggested.

  66. Dave says:

    You’ve highlighted an interesting point Chris – how do you define “just outside” the city centre? I live almost 3 miles from the city centre, but am still in the RPZ Proposed area.

    People are willing to pay large amounts to park in any city centre in the UK, but ask the general UK populus as to whether they’re willing to pay to park outside their own house, or pay for a number of visitors (which is limited by the local Council) to see them, and see what the answer is.

    To be honest, I’d happily pay £40 a year to park outside my house if I owned one, if I knew that the money would improve public transport. There are two problems with this:

    1) The revenue won’t go on public transport that the very people who are paying for the charge can benefit from
    2) The council is refusing to differentiate between HMOs and houses occupied by a single family, when there is a clear difference. Since I and two other housemates dare to own cars, I’ll have to pay over £200 a year to park my car outside my house, just because I can’t afford to live in a house of my own.

  67. Concerned of Southville said,

    ‘i’d venture that it isn’t commuters contributing to the city’s problems in the vast majority of the cases. ‘ Dave agreed with this.

    If they think there aren’t serious parking, congestion, air pollution, climate change, road safety and other problems caused by commuters they are deluded.

    Do people seriously think we can carry on with car use on the same terms as in the past?? I think the answer can only be no, in which case it should all be about managing a transition to a sustainable situation. However, in many instances this just isn’t happening at all or is only half-hearted or is completely mis-managed – we get green council and govt talk but no coherent, coordinated truly green action.

  68. Chris Hutt says:

    Dave, I very much agree with your last point. Rationing car parking spaces on the basis of number per household clearly discriminates against people in shared houses where more than two independent adults may have cars.

    Relatively wealthy single householders, perhaps living in whole house, will be entitled to permits at the heavily discounted rate of £40, yet the relatively poorer person in a shared household of three adults all with cars will have to pay a third of £620 = £207.

    Even worse where the number of permits available per household is less than the number of adults in the household! How is that problem to be resolved amongst 3 or 4 adults all with an equal desire/need to own a car?

    That is clearly unfair and is another reason why I do NOT support the current RPS proposals. But this unfairness would not arise under sort of system that I might support, namely making parking available to anyone willing to pay the market price and using the surplus generated to reduce Council Tax or, if you prefer, to invest in public transport.

  69. Silent Bob says:

    Is it worth pointing out at this point that this newly levied charge will not affect the richer inhabitents of this fair city, given that they will probably enjoy off-road parking?

    I’d take issue with the £15 assumed charge; I am forced to park in the centre as I commute from Swindon and the central car park I use is £10 per day. I’m not “willing” to pay this exorbitant fee, but am forced to if I am to stay in employment, quite different things.

    I have no choice, because all current park & rides are on the other side of the city, not to mention that the public transport “alternatives” would involve a 2 1/2 hour commute each way (and so a 13 hour working day, or 65 hour working week) and actually add up to more that the costs of travelling by car, which takes an hour – not to mention their unreliability, dirtyness (as one who has had two suits written off by chewing gum left on the seats) and the joyous possibility of being randomly attacked by a feral youth or insulted by a goose-stepping BR lackey.

    I love the attempts to justify the charge as a “subsidy”. Is taking money from people in these dire times really is helping them as the term implies? No amount of verbal posturing will change people’s perception that the CPZ would be a unilateral charge imposed on the unwilling.

    Here’s an idea; why not improve the public transport and use redundant spaces as temporary parking areas to encourage fresh people with fresh ideas into the area and enable to existing population to have an alternative to the car, rather than drag everyone back into a horse-and-cart era of stagnation and poverty?

  70. redzone says:

    to control the problem of commuter parking, shouldn’t the people of southville, redland or wherever be given ‘free’ parking permits to park outside of their homes & anyone who wishes to park in these areas have to purchase a permit between certain times?? that would seem a fairer option!?!
    why should residents be penalised because of the commuter parking problem?

  71. Redzone – money would have to be found, poss from a council tax rise, to fund what you suggest.

    Maybe there should be residents parking all over Bristol paid for by a council tax rise, with any spare money invested in public transport – any thoughts on this??

    On another note I saw a BBC report yesterday

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7481927.stm

    on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation work on the minimum needed in the UK for a decent life. Unless living in a rural area having a car was not thought of as a necessity – any thoughts? (I think I know the reaction to anticipate!)

    https://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/2244.asp

  72. Chris Hutt says:

    Redzone, a system to give exclusive parking for residents it will cost a lot of money to set up and run, so who should pay for this? All residents, even if they don’t have cars, or just those who benefit?

    In areas where the poorest households are least likely to have cars it’s hardly fair to make them pay towards something that gives valuable benefits to car owners. So it must be those who benefit who pay.

  73. Thanks for the link Dave. Feelings at the meeting were obviously very strong. I see that Mark Bradshaw said ‘Doing nothing is not a serious option.’ If people reject residents parking what has he got planned then??

  74. Dave says:

    To introduce it anyway of course!

  75. redzone says:

    what i am trying to point out is that just because you live in, or own a property in the so called parking zone, should you have to pay for parking when somebody who lives in the suburbs pays nothing to park?
    unless you make it an across the board tax, it won’t work!!
    what about the thousands who have a driveway, therefore not really liable for a road parking tax!?!
    like most things this council comes up with (to try to generate more money i must add!!) it isn’t very well thought out!
    the question of more council tax money invested into public transport, why? to increase the profits of the private company running it? with no improvement in service!!?

    vehicles are a neccessity for the thousands of self employed. Builders etc could not possibly use public transport in connection with their trade.
    how would you suppose they can collect & supply materials & get their tools to the various sites around the city??

    if there is a congestion charge zone, i will just drive around it & not be keen to take on jobs that fall within the boundary.
    this will no doubt be the thought process of most people, therefore congesting the surrounding areas & like london, the zone will just get bigger & bigger . . . . . . . .

  76. I dont think its acceptable for the council to bring in residents parking against people’s wishes, even though I favour the scheme. They would be pretty foolish to do so in any case.

    It might be a different matter if the ruling council group were elected with the introduction of the scheme as part of their campaign platform. I’m not aware that this is the case here.

  77. Silent Bob says:

    Hi,

    With no rancour at all, is there a reason my comments are not getting put on – this is the second time I’ve tried to make constructive comments to no avail?

    If there is something objectionable or unpublishable about my would-be posts please do say, and I’ll rethink my style

    I’d really appreciate an email about this, however brief, as it is starting to feel like a staged debate rather than a true one and I thought this blog was above that

    thanks,

    Mike

  78. Dave says:

    For those who haven’t yet spotted the huge flaw in Chris’s ridiculous “It’s not a tax, it’s a subsidy” argument, consider this.

    Chris states: “…the spaces are WORTH £1,000 (or something like that). Yet they are offered to motorists either free or for nominal amounts. That’s what makes it a subsidy. ”

    Spotted it yet?

    This is the thing – they’re NOT offered to motorists. In paying the “nominal” amounts, you are in no way whatsoever guaranteed a space on the street you live in (or even, if you think about it, in your “zone”) – this has been made very clear from the outset by BCC. You’re just paying for the “chance” to legitimately park in your zone. It’s therefore a TAX because the commodity supposedly being “subsidised” simply doesn’t exist.

    Do you think people would pay NCP £15 a day for a non-guaranteed CHANCE to park in their city centre car park, with the threat of a fine if you paid to enter only to find there were no parking spaces?

    This is another point – what if you arrive home late at night and everyone has visitors staying over and you’re forced to park outside the zone? Do you get fined?

  79. Dave says:

    Also – what are the council proposing to do about the surely huge number of people who will knock down their front wall/garden to create a free, guaranteed parking space because of the scheme? If half the people on my street did it there wouldn’t be enough space left for anyone else – because of the size of front gardens the angle the car would have to go in would take up two spaces rather than one

    Also note that the council are planning on painting double-yellow lines outside driveways, supposedly to “protect them”. This is pointless as legislation already exists for this, and painting double-yellow lines stops someone with a driveway parking their second car directly in front of it.

    I can’t see the scheme working.

  80. Bluebaldee says:

    “People knocking down their front gardens to creat a parking space”.

    Result: Far more urban flooding as the rain has nowhere to soak away.

    Thanks BCC!

    Cracking idea!

  81. thebristolblogger says:

    Bob,

    The software, for some reason, decided your comments might be spam and so sent them off to await moderation. Now some have been published this shouldn’t happen any more …

  82. Dave says:

    ANOTHER point – when I parked in the city centre 2 years ago there was a wealth of car parks bang in the centre charging people £5 per day. These have now all but disappeared due to the building of the new broadmead development without any consideration for the huge amount of lost car parking spaces – presumably allowing the few (if any) remaining car parks to charge £10 now.

    How ironic that the council are responsible for driving up the “market value” of central (and therefore residential) parking spaces.

    If you want to know why there are so many commuters parking in residential areas, take a look at the parking spaces lost by the broadmead development.

  83. Silent Bob says:

    Sorry BB, that last was meant to just be a note to you in the assumption it would not be put up

    Thanks for the clarification, and apologies for the slightly irked “staged debate” comment which was not for public consumption and which of course is proved to be completely baseless and which I fully retract;

    This is an invaluable point of (generally) intellectual debate about some very key topics

    Mike

  84. On people knocking down walls etc to create driveways – isn’t planning permission needed to do this??

  85. ConcernedOfSouthville says:

    “On people knocking down walls etc to create driveways – isn’t planning permission needed to do this??”
    Well it never stopped my next door neighbours knocking down a load bearing wall to create bedsits -the relevent deptartment came out retrospectively, took a few notes and nothing more was heard. Seems there are two sets of rules when it comes to planning regulations -one for those who abide by the regulations, and a better set for those go go ahead regardless.

  86. ConcernedOfSouthville says:

    “On people knocking down walls etc to create driveways – isn’t planning permission needed to do this??”
    Well it never stopped my next door neighbours knocking down a load bearing wall to create bedsits -the relevent deptartment came out retrospectively, took a few notes and nothing more was heard. Seems there are two sets of rules when it comes to planning regulations -one for those who abide by the regulations, and a better set for those go go ahead regardless.

  87. Dave says:

    VowlestheGreen – You’d hope. I was talking about this subject with my dad last night as he used to be a Town Planner – not approving/denying applications but dealing with Census stats, and he said (as with all these things) it’s a bit of a grey area.

    I think bizarrely you don’t need planning permission to turn a front garden into a drive, but I think there’s some sort of legal process that has to be followed when it comes to dropping the kerb.

    Futhermore, there ARE specific minimum measurements that a front garden has to meet before it can be converted into a drive – if I remember rightly, the minimum distance between the outermost edge of the house (e.g. the edge of the bay window and the inside edge of the pavement is 4.5 metres, which surely renders most of the “conversions” I’ve seen in popular areas (e.g. Bishopston/Redland) illegal.

  88. thebristolblogger says:

    From The Independent:

    A word of warning about paving over your front garden. You might think it gives you the added value of off-street parking, but in February, the Government announced that anyone who wants to asphalt that space will need planning permission unless they use gravel or other porous materials. The new legislation comes into force in the autumn and the recent Chelsea Flower Show revealed several entrants who had already capitalised on the new rules by showcasing permeable materials.

  89. Matt Carter says:

    Right. So BCC want me to pay to take a chance that I’ll be able to park somewhere within a few streets of where I live. And if, for whatever reason, I still can’t (say, people have parked badly taking up multiple spots, or too many people using those precious visitors tokens on one day) – I’m not allowed to park four streets over, because I don’t have a permit for that area. So I then have to, what, park up in Shirehampton and walk back down to Kingsdown?
    This is a bad solution to the wrong problem. What we should be doing is providing better public transport and more options, so fewer people feel they need to drive in.
    Incidentally, it’s entirely unfair to tax city centre residents to subsidise the park and rides for the suburbanites (and that’s what it is, a tax). If this scheme was genuinely to ensure residents could park, every household be issued as many free permits as they had entries on the electoral roll (i.e. people over 17, likely drivers). That they want to charge exorbitant rates proves it is nothing more than Labour finding yet another way to bill us for having the temerity to be alive.

  90. mapreader says:

    @silent bob
    “Is it worth pointing out at this point that this newly levied charge will not affect the richer inhabitents of this fair city, given that they will probably enjoy off-road parking?”

    Somewhere in the proposals there must be a new ‘driveway access tax’. A common argument above is that a car’s-length-space is worth £1000 pa revenue; the council should charge for the lost parking spaces in front of driveways? They can’t complain, as in effect they will be paying for having a reserved space on the road in front of their house! Surely this is next logical step?

    Somehow I can’t see it hapening though…

  91. Chris Hutt says:

    As you say mapreader, the parking space kept empty in front of driveways is at least as valuable as any other parking space. In fact it’s more valuable than the unspecified places accessed via the Resident’s Permit because it is your own dedicated space, immediately in front of your home.

    But I don’t think BCC are planning to charge anything for it. The intention is to apply double yellow lines in front of driveways so that no one is allowed to park there, even the owners of the driveway. I think this is because enforcement would become too complicated otherwise.

    This is yet another shortcoming of the system proposed by the Council. It’s clearly unfair to charge residents £40/£80 or more a year to be allowed to park somewhere in the vicinity while a neighbour gets his own dedicated space at the end of his drive kept clear of parking free-of-charge, with enforcement paid for by the those without driveways!

  92. Silent Bob says:

    Chris: Call me a cynic, but given the fact that councils have taken to imposing a £1k levy on every new room in a house extension, on the assumption that it is a bedroom, I would not rule out a retrospective tax on driveway access, the definition of which may well be interesting…

    As a general comment (not to Chris in particular) it is absolutely clear that this proposal has more holes in it that a cracked collander;

    The lack of transport alternatives for the forseeable future

    The issues of multiple-occupancy houses, non-charges of private driveways, and non-linkage of the levies to personal wealth (eg to house value / house ownership) making this a charge which will proportionately affect the poorer more

    The clear issues over non-reserved spaces meaning that people may not be able to park near their own homes (and so potentially incur an additional charge if they park outside their zone)

    The fact that this may actually add to pollution if people find themselves roving the streets to find a suitable spot if theirs are taken, not to mention the environmental impact of producing all those double yellow lines, extra signs, visitors parking permits etc etc

    The fact that there is no alternative whatsoever for those travelling to Bristol via the M32 (just as one example) – they will be left with three choices; either stop working in bristol (not wise to give up a job now given the incoming recession), or to travel even further to find a parking spot and maybe use public transport to get back into town, thus again increasing the carbon footprint, or (most likely) – force them to park in the centre, increasing congestion and overloading the already near-capacity car parks

    (n.b please don’t pretend that Public Transport is an alternative – it simply is not; it would add 3 hours to my 10 hour working day which is not do-able)

    The economics of the scheme; it costs money to set up, with no initial income

    The adverse effect on self-employed tradesmen; unless they get dispensation they will be badly hit; and any increased costs will in turn hit consumers as they are passed on

    The “big brother” feel of the scheme, with one having limits on the number of visitors and generally feeling that one has to pay for the priviledge of living in Bristol

    The clash with the new housing policies (ie flats etc) – unless the goal is to create a new breed of person who does not travel outside the city, and thus misses out on what the rest of the world has to offer

    I could go on; there are many many holes

    To conclude;

    I think the timing is bad. Money is tight, and will get tighter with the impending recession. People will lose jobs and need to travel further to find one – these are the realities people are dealing with despite any contrary soundbites. This scheme can only add to peoples woes

    The green issue is a smokescreen. I actually care a lot about the environment, as I’m sure do most people with any kind of a perspective on what is happening to our planet. However it is clear that rising fuel prices, and lowering disposable incomes will have an effect on the journeys people take – ie these in themselves will force people to be more environmentally friendly; this scheme is not necessary any more if one is looking at it as soley being a means of reducing our collective carbon footprints – the economy is already forcing people’s hands

    What rankles me is that few people are looking at genuine alternatives to petrol. Cars can be powered by electricity, by chip fat, by wine, by all manner of alternative fuels – but there is not the infrastructure to support such alternatives. A truly green policy would look at providing alternative means of powering vehicles (maybe start with the buses, since they will be an ever-present method of transportation and will guarantee usage) and incentivise people to convert to these methods of transportation.

    Current vehicles do NOT provide genuine alternatives; for example some of the hybrid cars have parts shipped from around the world – never mind the resources required to actually make them – making their environmental cost far more than any environmentally-friendly attributes they may have

    Sorry this has been a bit of a rant, but that’s my tuppence worth on all ramifications of the scheme.

  93. Dave says:

    Well said Bob.

    One final point to those who might agree with Chris’s valuation of parking spaces at £1,000 a year – I currently rent an off-street garage in a secure compound for a “project car” for a little over £500 a year.

    Given this, I can’t think the value of a non-reservable unsecure parking space on the public highway is any more than about £5 a year 😛

  94. Those who think the cost of their car has risen may be interested in this:

    ‘Almost 60% of the 1,116 people taking part in the RAC’s annual report on motoring said they thought the biggest change over the past 20 years was a rise in cost.

    In fact it now costs 18% less in real terms to buy and run a car, including fuel costs (and 28% cheaper excluding fuel costs), than in 1988. Meanwhile, the cost of petrol has more than doubled in real terms.

    Adrian Tink, motoring strategist at RAC, said that contrary to public perception: “Cars are more reliable now, they go wrong less, and so the cost of upkeep is lower. The fall in the cost of buying and owning a car has been a fairly smooth curve over the past 20 years.

    The increase in the cost of fuel over the past 12 months has been incredible, and with it costing around £70 to fill a family car, that cost is at the front of people’s minds.”

    According to the report, the number of households with a car has grown 39% over the past two decades from 14 million to 19.5 million. The number of households with two or more cars has almost doubled from 4.3 million to 8.4 million, and the number of drivers has increased to 33.7 million from 26.1 million.’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/jul/09/motoring.consumeraffairs1?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews

    With cheaper motoring (and at the same time much more expensive bus and train travel) how on Earth are we going to tackle climate change, air pollution, congestion, parking problems….??? The incentives are upside down.

  95. Silent Bob – there is a lot I’d like to say in response to your lengthy post but I’ve only got time to pick on one particularly ill-informed point at the present. You said,

    ‘Current vehicles do NOT provide genuine alternatives; for example some of the hybrid cars have parts shipped from around the world – never mind the resources required to actually make them – making their environmental cost far more than any environmentally-friendly attributes they may have’

    Aren’t parts for all cars, of whatever type, shipped from around the world? Dont all cars take a lot of resources to make them?

    Life cycle assessment figures show that the vast majority of the environmental impact of any car is in its use not in its manufacture. Whilst there is debate about the exact benefits of hybrid cars, there is little doubt that they are a lot more efficient and less polluting than ‘normal’ cars – so to say that their environmental costs outweigh their environmental attributes is rubbish.

    http://www.eta.co.uk/env_info/hybrid_cars

    Not that I’m a fan of the idea that we can solve all car problems just by driving different cars or using different fuels – that too is rubbish.

  96. thebristolblogger says:

    With cheaper motoring (and at the same time much more expensive bus and train travel) how on Earth are we going to tackle climate change, air pollution, congestion, parking problems….??? The incentives are upside down.

    Exactly what everybody else has been saying for weeks Vowlsie. We need investment in public transport.

  97. Dave says:

    I’m not sure the “cost of motoring coming down” is a fair assessment. I suspect it comes from comparing the prices of new and (especially) used cars compared to 10 years ago, which is grossly misleading as most people don’t buy a car particularly often. I fail to see how it’s cheaper to RUN a car, given that insurance, tax, and fuel duty costs have all gone up exponentially (as has, unfortunately, the price of public transport).

    As for alternative fuels/hybrid cars – hybrid cars so far are pretty poor. Hydrogen is where it’s at. Once someone devises a way of successfully and safely storing, pumping, and delivering it to cars it’ll change the world of motoring. BMW have developed hydrogen-powered engines where the ONLY exhaust emitted is water.

  98. No Blogger its not exactly what everyone has been saying for weeks. For a start many people have done the exact opposite of acknowledging that motoring has become cheaper and vigorously argued against paying more for motoring through the residents parking charge!! The point I was making here, as I’ve made before, is that we need both more expensive motoring and cheaper public transport. This is the only approach likely to be effective.

    I’m afraid such is the attachment that people have to their cars, for which there is a mountain of evidence, that investment in public transport alone is very unlikely to solve car-related problems like climate change, air pollution, congestion, parking chaos….

    I fully acknowledge however that at this stage people are not in favour of: more expensive petrol; higher car tax; congestion charging; residents parking schemes….in which case problems will grow with the growth in traffic and problems will be harder and more expensive to solve in the future.

  99. Dave, I think you are deluding yourself here, disputing what are highly likely to be valid figures and also clinging to the idea that there can be a purely technical solution to all transport problems.

    The source of the figures I quoted, the RAC, is hardly a green pressure group and is seen by many people, drivers included, as reliable.

    Hydrogen fuel cell powered cars may well hold some promise in a technical sense, but you outline some very major hurdles that have yet to be jumped yourself! Commercial viability for the average motorist is still some way off. In any case no matter what the fuel in the car we’d still have major congestion, parking and road safety problems – in fact they might get much worse if people feel that owning and driving a car is even more acceptable because its ‘clean’.

    To solve transport problems requires: both more expensive motoring and cheaper public transport; both new technical approaches and behaviour change from people. Its easy for people to favour cheaper public transport and new car technology. Getting people to acknowledge that the car has to become more expensive and people have to change their behaviour is much harder and not what most politicians and political parties are inclined to do at all (their key aim is to achieve and retain power, not to confront the big problems).

  100. Dave says:

    Deluded? No. My point was that it is unfair and inaccurate to use the fairly large decrease in cost of used cars over the past couple of decades to offset the huge increase in day-to-day running costs, as they have done in the report. It doesn’t make it any less cheaper to run my car day-to-day just because I paid less for it at the start, as adding up all the costs as a whole including the purchase price and depreciation is just far too simplistic. For that figure to be accurate it relies on a fixed constant of “car ownership period” – i.e. the time between changing cars – which I’d imagine changes greatly depending on personal circumstances.

    I also find the language used in your posts slightly worrying;

    “To solve transport problems requires: both more expensive motoring”
    “Getting people to acknowledge that the car has to become more expensive”

    This all implies falsely inflated costs in order to “force” a change in behaviour which is wrong on just so many levels I get annoyed just thinking about it. You clearly are an advocate of use the stick rather than the carrot – but conveniently only when it comes to cars – forcing people to give up their cars/drive smaller ones by threatening them with arbitrary higher costs is like an extreme form of communism.

  101. Dave

    You really need to look at how the RAC has established their figures properly. If its become more expensive for people to own and run a car how come there are so many more 1, 2 and 3 car households?? Seems to me that you are in denial. The RAC itself says ‘“Cars are more reliable now, they go wrong less, and so the cost of upkeep is lower. The fall in the cost of buying and owning a car has been a fairly smooth curve over the past 20 years.’

    You said,
    ‘This all implies falsely inflated costs in order to “force” a change in behaviour which is wrong on just so many levels I get annoyed just thinking about it.’

    I’m not suggesting falsely inflating costs at all. Currently not all the costs of the the car reflected in its cost to the owner eg costs of climate change, air pollution, congestion, accidents, deaths and ill-health due to air pollution… Why should these not be factored in? Why should wider society or future generations pay in place of the individuals? The polluter pays principle…

    I’m also not suggesting forcing change in behaviour. The changes I suggest would not be sustainable if they are not achieved democratically. If a majority votes for the changes I suggest then they should be brought in.

    You said,
    ‘You clearly are an advocate of use the stick rather than the carrot – but conveniently only when it comes to cars – forcing people to give up their cars/drive smaller ones by threatening them with arbitrary higher costs is like an extreme form of communism.’

    No Dave, I clearly stated that we also needed cheaper public transport, which is an incentive and I clearly dont favour forcing, threatening or arbitrary costs as I explained earlier. In fact its Green policy to abolish VAT and car tax (VED) as part of the radical restructuring of economic incentives. Many would see these as incentives. Greens would also massively strengthen local economies, to boost local employment opportunities and cut travel needs. There are many other policies which we unfortuneately dont have room to go into here, suffice to say the aim is to make life stable, secure and affordable. If we continue to be dependent on expensive, increasingly scarce, climate changing and polluting oil dont you think that our lives will become more and more insecure, unstable and expensive??

  102. thebristolblogger says:

    The polluter pays principle…

    Then why not start with the really big and very wealthy polluters rather than us poor sods trying to get to work and do the shopping?

    That’d be energy industry for starters and then the agricultural industry wouldn’t it Vowlsie?

    It’s funny how you make no mention of taxing the hell out of the landowning, polluting agricultural class isn’t it?

    But then the Green Party actually acts as the political wing for that whole Prince Charles, Patrick Holden, George Monbiot, Lord Melchett, Soil Association, land owner set doesn’t it?

    Mustn’t tax them must we? Because they’re saving the planet aren’t they?

  103. I take it that you accept my central point about the polluter pays then Blogger, since you dont dispute it here.

    You go on to say ‘Then why not start with the really big and very wealthy polluters rather than us poor sods trying to get to work and do the shopping?’

    Of course Blogger, it is the Green approach, should we find ourselves running the country, (some way off at this stage!!) to prioritise the bigger polluters first, as you well know (though I/we have to keep pointing it out to you). Greens want to cut pollution by as much as is practically possible as soon as it is possible, so why would we not take this approach??

    We could/should debate the precise order of areas to tackle and how to assess them if you want (nitrate pollution from farming is very different to carbon dioxide emissions from mining or particulate pollution from cement prodcution…) but there is no denying that pollution from transport is right up there, especially in places like Bristol.

    Dont forget that petrochemicals are a common thread through those issues you and I mention, agriculture, industry and transport… Something like carbon taxation would impact on them all.

    As I’ve said on your site and others before, its Green policy to raise income taxes on the rich and to radically redistribute wealth. (Have you conveniently forgotten this? Or are you not intersted in fair, accurate debate?)

    Obviously in this debate about a transport issue I’m going to focus on relevant matters. Taxing fertilisers and pesticides, and in fact taxing land itself (see http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssld.html ) is all green policy, but it would be going off on at a tangent at this point would it not??

    I’m puzzled as to why you think taxing pollution from industry and agriculture would somehow not impact on ‘us poor sods trying to get to work and do the shopping’ in any case. Dont people use industrial products eg cars etc to get to work and whilst they are in work? What is it people are buying in the shops if it isn’t products from industry and agriculture?? What greens want is to shift the burden of taxation from the work of ordinary people, which is a good, onto pollution, which is bad, and to re-invest money raised into green society building, so that it is practical and affordable for all.

    The more consumption (generally from wealthier people), the more pollution, the more tax paid. At some point in the future one would hope, if eco-taxes/pollution taxes are successful in their aim of making us greener, that we would no longer need them.

    The Green Party would indeed claim to be the ‘political wing of the ‘green movement’ but this movement is a very broad one indeed and the people/organisations you list ‘Prince Charles, Patrick Holden, George Monbiot, Lord Melchett, Soil Association,’ have been carefully selected by you. It may well suit your class-obsessed agenda of course. As you can see from Green Party policy on land we are not a party which wants a society that favours rich land-owners, aristocrats and royalty!!

    Pity you have not responded to what I posted on your What? page on the issue of class and the environment. We might be able to clear up a few things. Perhaps the facts in the post are inconvenient for you??

  104. Bluebaldee says:

    Vowles,

    We are already reaching the point where motoring is becoming very expensive.

    I run one of those vehicles that’s about to be clobbered by Gordon’s retrospective tax grab. It’s six years old and has a two litre engine. I bought it because it was about the only family car I could afford and I need it for my 65 mile daily round trip commute to my job in rural Wiltshire where there’s no public transport.

    Because of the nature of my work I can’t get a job closer to home. My fuel costs have risen by around 50% in a little over 8 months. I’m about to get rogered by the retrospective VED tax. It looks like the Council’s going to shaft me with Parking Tax, soon a Congestion Charge.

    And yet nothing is being done to make the drastic and dramatic changes to public transport that we so desperately need in this area. I hear rumours that they may reopen the rail station in Corsham which would be fabulous. I’d gladly sell the car, cycle to Temple Meads and take the train – I’d absolutely love that option.

    But nothing will happen. It’s the same for the poor sods in Portishead. I’m sure they’d much prefer to jump on a train which would whizz them through to Bristol rather than fight their way down the Portbury Hundred and along the Portway in rush hour. But again nothing will happen – even though it would cost about the same as a wing and landing gear of a single Eurofighter to reopen both stations.

    That’s why so many of us are so damn cynical about these Parking/Congestion/VED tax rises. And why the likes of Dave and I are banging on about sticks and carrots, because all we see is stick and no carrot.

    We’re being penalised yet not being offered an alternative.

    I’m having to make very real sacrifices at the moment just to keep, like many others, my head above water and when you have a family that’s a continuing fight, one that I feel I’m losing. That’s despite working 50 hours a week with an hour each way commute in a job that pays £5k above the national average.

    Therefore to read your assertion that motoring needs to become even more expensive cuts no ice with me. This is the real world. These tax grabs won’t change behaviour if there’s no alternative in place for people to turn to – therefore they’re just stealth taxes to prop up a morally and economically bankrupt Government and I’m afraid that you and Chris Hutt are simply their apologists.

    Of course we need to preserve the planet for future generations – with a baby son I strongly agree with that.

    However – a, CO2 emissions from UK cars constitute a fraction of 1% of overall global emissions – there are far bigger fish to fry.
    And b, If the cost is my family’s financial hardship whilst I see practically no effort to provide an alternative then as far as I’m concerned I want nothing to do with them and would vote and lobby for anyone that opposes them.

  105. Bluebaldee – sounds more like you are having a go at government/council rather than me and my ideas Bluebaldee. It would not be fair to bracket me with the govt/council because I’m advocating a balanced, coherent package – they are not!

    I cant agree with you that motoring generally has become more expensive though (see the RAC report I posted about). That does not mean that everyones motoring has become cheaper though I acknowledge.

    Give people like me a chance to put a consistent plan into practice and you would gain overall(see what I’ve said about creating jobs locally and about cheap public transport for instance).

    Cant see how you can square saying you want to save the planet for future for future generations with saying that UK carbon emissions are tiny and therefore we should do nothing and look for action from others. We each need to act and someone needs to lead.

    I’m no apologist for this govt. Far from it. I will continue to criticise them heavily, as I have been doing for yrs.

    Opinions are gradually going green because the rationale of the arguments are sound and the issues aren’t going to go away. See this reference on Kerry McCarthy’s blog ‘There was also this report (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/02/climatechange.ethicalliving ) that UK voters believe that taking action on climate change is more important than tackling the global economic downturn, and that 63% of them support more green taxes. ‘

    I’d add that the global economic downturn, or parts of it eg food/fuel prices, are strongly linked to climate change and oil depletion.

  106. Chris Hutt says:

    Bluebaldee, may I chip in here, since you also call me an apologist for this Government?

    As you can imagine that is not a description that I am comfortable with. I have found the whole new labour thing depressing right from the beginning. Blair’s use of verbless sentences was a pretty good clue as to the moral vacuity of what would follow and I pride myself on being one of the few who was not taken in.

    but no Government is so ruthlessly competent that they never get anything right. Some useful things slip through, by design or default. In my view some “Green taxes” are some of those useful things, although I would prefer to describe them as “market corrections” to ensure that people bear the full costs of their decisions, without being subsidised, or “the polluter pays”.

    In your case you have at some stage in the past decided that driving a 2 litre car 65 miles to work each day was sustainable. Most environmentalists would have disputed that, even 10 or 20 years ago. You must surely have been aware of that when you made your decision, as you must have been aware of global warming, growing congestion, opposition to road building, talk of the need for traffic restraint, road pricing, etc. In short the writing was well and truly on the wall.

    Many people have to make tough choices about where to work, where to live and how to travel between the two. Some make better decisions than others. If people make bad decisions they must inevitably suffer the consequences. It is not the job of government to come and bale people out.

  107. thebristolblogger says:

    Vowlsie,

    It’s all well and good talking about the Green’s marvelous redistributive policies but on this thread you’ve persistently promoted the exact opposite: flat taxes that will disproportionately affect working people and families. Parking taxes are not redistributive taxes.

    Chris,

    I doubt many people make the kind of conscious decisions you describe regarding their work, home and travel circumstances. Rather they’re forced into a series of pragmatic and contingent choices dependent on factors largely out of their control – money, skills, family circumstances, government etc.

  108. Chris Hutt says:

    Sorry BB, but that doesn’t make sense. Suppose someone living in Bristol gets an offer of a good job in say Leicester (it could happen), they won’t decide that they’ve no choice but to commute to Leicester every day. They’ll make a decision to move to Leicester or not take the job. Well, the distance over which commuting isn’t a viable option just got a lot shorter. And that’s a damn good thing for the environment.

  109. Blogger, I’ve talked about redistribution in two senses: from richer to poorer, but also from work to pollution. I’ve also consistently outlined a balanced package of radical restructuring of the tax/economic system with massive investment in public transport and local economic development…Its the current lot that aren’t doing this not me or my party!

    Charging households for parking according to the number of cars they have is perfectly consistent with the polluter pays principle which you did not dispute the validity of earlier on. It deters commuter parking and encourages people to do things like join a car club instead of owning a car…I’ve argued strongly for the principle of RPS – I dont agree with every detail of this particular council scheme and agree that its not being introduced in ideal circumstances, though I’d still vote for it on balance. Dont forget that this discussion has broadened out somewhat, which would explain why I haven’t been outlined the total Green approach to taxation right from the off !!

    When we have problems with pollution, congestion, parking, waste…do you accept that it makes good sense and is just to create the right incentives by a combination of taxation and investment (and poss rebates/subsidies…) ? Its important that the overall tax changes/investment etc package redistributes from work to pollution and from richer to poorer….

  110. thebristolblogger says:

    Yes. But what if their partner still has a job in Bristol? Their kids are in school and about to do exams? Their parents are ill with cancer and need to visited three times a week? They can’t sell their house? Or it’s in negative equity? Or they live in social housing?

    People’s lives are more complicated than you suggest. Jobs, commuting and travelling to work are a small part of a complex picture for most people.

  111. Chris Hutt says:

    Tell me about it! But you seem to be saying that the Government are obliged to provide some ridiculously expensive, heavily subsidised high-speed rail network to suit every body’s geographically complicated lives, or the environment gets it. That’s simply way beyond anything realistic. We’ve just got to accept that we can’t carry on as if nothing has changed.

  112. An increase in the density of the rail and bus network, plus a big expansion of cycling facilities and pedestrianisation, combined with major investment in local economies and communities, all funded by taxing the rich more and by taxing pollution/waste…would clearly help people to make choices. That’s a big part of the green strategy. OK its just an ideal (that’s catching on) at present but clearly its what we need and certainly its what we are not getting.

    I’d be arguing for this more local community-based and convivial life even if we had no major unsustainability problems . For me its clear that our health and wellbeing would be much better.

  113. thebristolblogger says:

    But you seem to be saying that the Government are obliged to provide some ridiculously expensive, heavily subsidised high-speed rail network to suit every body’s geographically complicated lives, or the environment gets it. That’s simply way beyond anything realistic

    What’s unrealistic about the government supplying high quality transport infrastructure? Money’s not stopping them. They collect around £450bn a year in taxes. They can even afford to spend £8bn on the Olympics – a two week jamboree. Imagine what you could do with that kind of money …

  114. Chris Hutt says:

    Yes, £8 billion is some serious money, but when you divi it up on a per capita basis Bristol’s share of that would be around £70 million, which will pay for a couple of miles of tram/light rail route. Big deal.

    Even with our old friend Bus Rapid Transit it will only pay for maybe one radial route (if it follows an “easy” alignment like the Railway Path). It also happens to be the amount of money being spent on the Greater Bristol Bus Network, to little effect so far.

    The sort of high quality rail based public transport systems that people have observed in some continental cities are extremely expensive to create from scratch, extremely disruptive to build and extremely expensive to run if the fares are to be as heavily subsidised as motorists seem to be demanding.

    But let’s suppose that we spent say £1 billion on a light rail / tram network for Bristol. That’s about £5,000 per household in Bristol. Fancy paying an extra £500 Council Tax over the next 10 years? No, I don’t either, especially since I’ve already gone to some trouble to minimise my transport requirements.

    The bottom line is that the amount most people travel in the course of their daily lives is unsustainable. Transferring a large proportion of these journeys from car to public transport just isn’t viable. We just can’t expect to continue traveling to the degree that many are accustomed.

  115. Chris Hutt says:

    But there is one way of paying for a high quality public transport system for Bristol. If we started charging people the market value of the on-street parking spaces they occupy…….

  116. Chris is right when he says we need to reduce the need to travel.

    We are still spending a lot of money on roads. It’s government policy to build hundreds of miles of new roads, widen motorways etc…(whilst its apparently also govt policy to cut our oil dependence!!) Why not reallocate some of that money?? The Green Party website states:

    ‘Re-allocate just a quarter of the road budget and in ten years we could build light rail systems in eight cities, create 10,000 people-friendly home zones, put £4 billion into cutting train and bus fares, £1 billion into rural transport and another billion into transport for disabled people. Add to that safe routes to all our schools and colleges and tens of thousands of new jobs and it’s money well spent.

    We also know that most journeys are local ones, and that walking and cycling should be a pleasant experience that everyone can enjoy, without having to risk life and limb.

    Real Progress means making public transport an easy option.’

    http://www.greenparty.org.uk/issues/27

    Would this be a good start in tackling transport problems??

  117. Chris Hutt says:

    VowlestheGreen, how does subsidising travel by £4 billion reduce the “need” or demand for it? Surely it does the opposite?

    And how much is “a quarter of the roads budget” and how much do you think a light rail system for Bristol would cost? Your Green Party link seems curiously light on figures.

  118. Bluebaldee says:

    Chris said:

    “The bottom line is that the amount most people travel in the course of their daily lives is unsustainable. Transferring a large proportion of these journeys from car to public transport just isn’t viable. We just can’t expect to continue traveling to the degree that many are accustomed.”

    I would agree with that statement Chris, it is unsustainable. The only reason that I endure a 65 mile round trip commute is because my work was relocated to Wiltshire. I could either follow or be made redundant – with a family the latter was not an option.

    You seem to view others’ lives and the choices they make in very simplistic, and somewhat judgemental, terms. Life’s a lot more complicated than the one that you take for granted.

    Neither can I afford to move nearer my work. Stamp duty, estate agents fees, removal costs, solicitors fees, mortgage rearrangement costs all add up to many, many thousands of pounds. Money that I don’t have.

    Therefore with me, and for many others, environmental concerns come a lot further down the list. Definitely not ideal, but this is the Real World, not some utopia where everyone has plenty of choices and unlimited financial resources to make those choices.

    Neither do I want the Government to bale me out, but I certainly don’t want to see them screw me over either, which is what they’re currently doing. I pay a lot of tax and I see an awful lot of this wasted. All I want is an option and I’ll take it, just like people who live in Portishead – give them a railway station and they’ll ditch the car.

    In my case, the reopening of the Corsham rail station is in the JLTP – they just won’t get around to it until about 2020 at the earliest.

    You also fail to notice that urban planning and Government policy seems hell-bent on further increasing the distance we have to travel in order to access jobs and services. Out of town retail and office parks, the closing of Post Offices, small schools, GP surgeries, hospitals etc all oblige us to travel further.

    You seem to be proposing that we roll back all these changes that have been happening over the last two decades and centralise all jobs, services and population centres together and oblige people not to travel outside of their local nodes. That of course would require urban and social engineering on a scale that would dwarf the provision of a decent public transport system in cost, time and effort.

    You also assert that the provision of a decent public transport system would be unrealistically expensive. That’s just wrong.

    Bristol is more like the exception in Europe for not having a decent mass transit system. I’ve been to Bordeaux and Hannover, Bristol’s twin cities, and they both have one. Porto (another twin) has one.

    Bristol’s English twin in terms of size and prosperity, Nottingham, is currently developing and expanding its immensely popular and well-used tram network.

    So for you to claim that a decent integrated mass transit system is some kind of impossible, unrealistic pipedream that only London, New York, Tokyo and Paris can aspire to is quite frankly hogwash.

    Reducing the distance one travels is an admirable aspiration and could work for many, it clearly does for you, and a few years ago I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of work.

    However, many people’s circumstances, and indeed Government planning policy, mean that this is not an option for many, many people.

    Developing a decent public transport system in the Bristol area should be a priority for both our local and national administrations, but they’re not doing it. Instead they’re walloping us with unfair parking and congestion taxes.

    So I will continue to take issue with your myopic passion for “Green Taxes” or “Market Corrections” because not everybody is the same, or has the same choices, as you.

  119. Chris Hutt,

    ‘VowlestheGreen, how does subsidising travel by £4 billion reduce the “need” or demand for it? Surely it does the opposite?’

    I’ve only described part of the picture here Chris, though many of the bus and train journeys subsidised will be local! You’d have to look at the whole of Green Party economic policy, which aims to strengthen local economies, and at the detail of transport policy for more complete information.

    http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsstr.html

    http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssec.html

  120. Dave says:

    IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!

    I’m not sure many have bothered to read the council’s Corporate Plan (2008-2011):

    http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=26948002&

    Page 8, under the section “An effective transport system”, it says “We will also bring forward plans for an M32 Park and Ride and implement a city centre residents parking scheme.”.

    Looks like they’ve made a decision on the residents parking scheme before it’s even gone before cabinet!

    The rest of the document makes interesting reading too…

  121. craptiger says:

    Seems to me that you could charge/tax people as much as you liked and the rich will still be able to pay for it, whereas the poor will simply have to resort to walking/cycling.

    If the residents parking scheme comes into effect it will be a barely noticeable burden on those who can afford it.

    It’s all very well banging on about how it’s a tax (regressive or progressive) or it isn’t a tax, but to be honest, it’s completely irrelevant hot air because if Bristol had an efficient public transport system that was cheaper for the poor to use than their car, then they WOULD use it.

    Then at least we would have a choice whether to pay the tax or not.

    So let’s stop bickering because we all want good public transport, let’s unite, stand together, and get something done for a change.
    Honestly it’s like listening to children arguing!!

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