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'The Bristol City Council diesel ban is persecuting innocent drivers'

Innocent motorists are being unfairly picked on as a result of the diesel ban by Bristol City Council, says Mike Rutherford

OPINION - Traffic

If you live in or need to travel to the bottom-left-hand corner of Britain, you deserve deep sympathy from me and, I suspect, other fair-minded folk who regard freedom of movement as a basic human right.

It’s bad enough that the motorway ‘network’ in this quarter of our green and pleasant land is woeful when compared with other large, populated regions of Blighty. And I’m deeply saddened that, in what is supposed to be ‘modern Britain’, the anti-car politicians in parts of the south west (and further afield) seem to be waging a vicious war on cars and their occupants.

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Coincidentally (or was it?), on the same day in early November, Bristol City Council and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) in effect announced that they’re dumping yet more transport-related misery on the south west. 

I’m not sure if this pair of giant, powerful, organisations are guilty of ineptness, mindless sabotage, political game-playing or plain bullying of defenceless, salt-of-the-earth folk merely trying to get from A to B. But I know the declarations from Bristol Council and RMT will absolutely sabotage many people who use diesel cars, and/or the trains that are supposed to (ha!) serve as alternatives to our 24/7 personal mobility machines powered by seemingly politically incorrect internal combustion engines.

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In short, across some busy sections of the fiefdom it controls, Bristol City Council is slapping a blanket ban on privately owned, new and old diesel cars at certain times of the day. It’s the first British city promising to outlaw even brand-new, expensive, state-of-the-art cars with D designations. While we wait for that, the RMT ‘workers’ at South West Trains are, as we went to press, refusing to work for 27 days over the busy Christmas holiday. This, after the serial strikers tasked with working on neighbouring Southern Railway trains have paralysed the service during their recent years of brutal industrial action/work inaction.

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It’s true that Bristol City Council’s decision to effectively slap prohibition orders on private diesel cars (but not its own diesels, and many other derv-powered vehicles, strangely enough) is still a year or two away. But it has been given the nod of approval by this local authority. Make no mistake, this is a ban on new, nearly new and old perfectly legal cars purchased, owned, serviced, taxed and insured by law-abiding individuals. These are the innocent victims of the discrimination I refer to.  

If Bristol City Council really cared about air quality and had the courage, it would ban all diesel modes of transport, including buses and coaches, taxis, trucks, vans and other goods vehicles, never mind the countless ships that use Bristol Docks. Go on Bristol, I dare you. 

Ironically, many of those ocean-going, cargo-carrying, marine diesel-burning vessels deliver brand-new diesel cars to the city’s colossal quayside. The council’s apparent position is that the motor manufacturers of the world can send shiploads of such vehicles to the area – but they can’t be driven by real-world motorists on many of the city’s streets. It’s insane. And the stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. 

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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