Last week the Government published “The Plan for Drivers”. It starts with the statement: “There’s nothing wrong with driving. Most of us use a car and, for many, life would not be liveable without their car. For those in rural areas, it is a lifeline. A car can hugely expand the independence of a younger person, as well as keep older people connected to key services and their families”. That’s very much the view of this writer. Apart from a few ghettos in central London, where massive expenditure on public transport subsidised by taxpayers, has made it practical to live without a car, most of the country need to use cars.
This new document is clearly a tilt to electoral popularity in the party conference season. In it Mark Harper, Transport Minister, says “Used appropriately and considerately, the car was, is, and will remain a force for good. It is not right that some drivers feel under attack. This long-term plan will address key elements of those concerns. We will explore options to stop local councils using so-called ‘15-minute cities’, such as in Oxford, to police people’s lives; we will restrain the most aggressively anti-driver traffic management measures. We will make it clear that 20mph speed limits in England must be used appropriately where people want them – not as unwarranted blanket measures. We will take steps to stop councils profiting from moving traffic enforcement”.
Is this the end of the “war on the driver” as some people call recent anti-car policies? The answer is possibly. But it needs more than just fine words to halt the war. Many of the negative policies have been supported by local councillors and elected mayors such as Sadiq Khan in London using legislation enacted by central Government that gives them the powers to do so. Those powers need removing and as their motives are often financial so those incentives must be removed.
There are many legal changes required to stop a small minority of local politicians imposing their irrational views on the rest of us. There need to be referendums on any proposed new regulations on vehicles and driving. And petitions to invoke referendums on existing ones.
The Plan for Drivers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/plan-for-drivers/the-plan-for-drivers
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