‘While Grant Shapps advises you to walk, cycle or take public transport, he’s using his own private plane’

Mike Rutherford thinks UK motorists are being demonised by hypocrites

If you fancy yourself as a tough, high-profile big shot who tells weaker individuals what they can and can’t do, you have to practise what you preach, right? So that’s no cigarettes for anti-smoking campaigners; no illicit affairs for those who promote family values; no venison for vegetarians. Similar rules surely have to apply when it comes to transport-related matters. For example, if anti-car campaigners really do hate cars and the people who use them, how about having the courage of their convictions by not driving, or travelling aboard? Trouble is, they often do. 

At the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London, I once had a late-night, on-air debate with car-loathing (though very nice bloke) Charles Secrett, ex Friends of the Earth. After the programme it was clear he hadn’t made arrangements with the BBC or anyone else to get a post-midnight ride home. So I offered him a lift, all or part of the way. Not for a moment did I expect him to fall into the trap I’d ‘accidentally’ set, but fall into it he did. Minutes after we set off I couldn’t resist pointing out the absurdity of him – the anti-car crusader – being chauffeured by me, the pro-car activist. He gulped and thanked me for the lift, before jumping out at the next set of lights. Honest.

Seems Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also sends out mixed messages, what with his one rule for his superior, ministerial self, then another for us, his inferior, travelling commoners.

While he advises you to walk, cycle, or take public transport, he’s doing many miles in his own private plane. Furthermore, his elite, personal mode of transport is registered in the US, not under the tougher UK system he’s accountable for. Why the hell worry about the chaos on UK roads when your aircraft can simply fly over it and the ordinary folk beneath you? Who cares about on-street parking when one can land at a private airfield, or the grounds of a country estate? Out of touch with the real world? Just a bit.   

Grant Shapps is the minister who’s likely to slap a nationwide ban on pavement parkers. If it applied only to irresponsible, dangerous offenders that make life hell for the elderly, visually impaired, or those with wheelchairs or baby buggies, fair enough.

But what about the countless new and old, notoriously tight British streets that have been designed to encourage cars to sit with two of their four tyres on pavements, many of which feature white lines that are generally effective at separating pedestrians from stationary vehicles? If the ban goes ahead without protecting these arrangements, drivers will struggle – and then some – to find spaces to stop, increasing congestion. If people can’t or won’t adhere to the ban, the proposed fine per car owner is £70 a day, circa £25k a year.  

Please minister, can we have more carrot, less stick? In much of mainland Europe and wealthier parts of Asia, clean, small, safe underground parking beneath homes, shops and workplaces is often the norm. Why not introduce a policy to build millions of these here? If not, the scandal of too few hospital beds, school places and GP appointments will be joined by a chronic shortage of usable parking bays for perfectly legal cars.

Find out everything you need to know about VED road tax here...

Recommended

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021
'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'
Opinion

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car
13 Dec 2020
'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'
Opinion

'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the switch to an all-electric UK car market hasn't been thought through
29 Nov 2020

Most Popular

Euro 7 standards: EU considers lifetime surveillance of every new car
UK Motorway
News

Euro 7 standards: EU considers lifetime surveillance of every new car

Cars could feed data to the EU every second they are being driven; rules could also force hybrids into EV mode, while MoT test results could be affect…
5 Mar 2021
New Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo electric shooting brake unveiled
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo - front
Porsche Taycan

New Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo electric shooting brake unveiled

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo range breaks cover – EV estate comes in four different versions with prices starting from £79,340
5 Mar 2021
New Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid 2021 review
Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid - front
Cupra Formentor

New Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid 2021 review

The new Cupra Formentor is stylish and practical, but the plug-in e-Hybrid falls short of being the pick of the range
3 Mar 2021