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Labour could take £400billion from motorists over the next five years

Mike Rutherford wonders whether the Labour party will reinvest the money it will make from motorists in better, safer, more efficient roads

Opinion - speed cameras

As expected, the Labour party swept to victory in the general election and has moved into the corridors of parliamentary power. One of the lucrative perks of the ‘job’ is this: assuming it serves a five-year term, I cautiously estimate that motorists will pay it between £300billion and £400billion (£300-£400,000million) in fuel duties, VED, VAT and other road and vehicle-related taxes, charges, levies, tolls and penalties.

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I’m not trying to scare or depress you. But I feel obliged to remind you that – unlike heavily subsidised bus and train passengers – car users are unsubsidised and already more than pay their way, thanks to the colossal amounts they cough up annually in what can loosely be described as motoring taxation. 

We get little of this money back by way of better, safer, more efficient roads. Truth is, governments make healthy annual profits from us and our motors.

We’ve stumped up trillions over the decades, and have paid several times over for the building and maintenance of roads, bridges and tunnels belonging to us – not the here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians. 

At the minute it’s still unclear whether the incoming Government will be doing things for us or to us. Let’s judge it not by what it claims it’ll do, but by what it delivers, eh? Also, we must accept that greater financial investment in motorists, their passengers (collectively we number 50 million) and our road network will not be a priority for our political rulers in the foreseeable.

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But they can approve schemes that’ll cost little, sometimes nothing, to introduce. A law saying drivers can turn left at red lights when the road is clear of vehicles and pedestrians is a no-brainer. As is a relaxation of 20mph limits outside schools when they’re closed.

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Let’s establish and give decision-making powers to a new, non-political organisation called BoM (The Board of Motorists), comprising experts in accident avoidance, the car industry, driving, electricity and other fuels, finance/law, infrastructure, insurance, passenger wellbeing, retailing, roads and cycle lanes, safety, maintenance/servicing, speeding, tech, traffic management, training, vehicle breakdowns/recovery and more.

Also, can we spend less on grass-cutting by roads, before spending more on repainting faded white lines and cleaning filthy signs, bollards and lights. Hard shoulders stupidly converted into driving lanes have to return. And drivers from France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland must pay fees or buy permits to use our motorways – as we have to on theirs.  

Financial and other incentives could be offered to hauliers to take their breaks during rush hours (say 7-9am, then 4-6pm). That’ll still leave them up to 20 hours in every 24 to keep their wheels rolling. Half-price annual road tax/VED for low-mileage pensioners and others who use their cars an average three days a week feels right and fair.

And nobody in their right mind should object to concessions and tax breaks for essential workers forced to work horribly unsociable hours when only a car will do – because buses and trains are parked up for the night and therefore worse than useless. 

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

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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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