Increase in road tolls ‘electoral suicide’

31st December 2012

A motoring campaigner has said that if the UK government goes ahead with plans to expand road tolls, the move would be ‘electoral suicide’.
The proposals are set to feature in the government’s mid-term review, due to be published in early 2013.

Peter Roberts of the Alliance of British Drivers brought up a 2007 petition against nationwide road pricing, which gained more than a million signatures. The introduction of more toll roads would therefore create a huge concern for voters.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Roberts said: "I think people have made their views on road tolling, road pricing, very very clear. I think it would be electoral suicide…kind of like the poll tax on wheels."

Mr Roberts added that road users are already becoming increasingly frustrated by the increasing cost of motoring.

A study conducted by car insurance provider AXA has found that 62 per cent of respondents had reported a decrease in their enjoyment of driving due to increasing costs.

Of the 2,000 interviewed, 20 per cent said they feel less independent, whilst 19 per cent said they now avoid long distance car journeys. Rising costs have also led to 18 per cent making fewer trips to see friends and family.

Despite the poll reporting that 69 per cent of people believe fuel prices are too high, and 57 per cent feeling aggrieved by fuel taxation; 26 per cent of drivers felt they were left with little choice but to accept and deal with the growing costs.

Amanda Edwards, at AXA Insurance, said: "As all of us are becoming increasingly concerned about finances, it's no surprise that the costs related to driving are at the top of motorists' frustrations."

Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation said that he would accept more toll roads in the UK, if the package meant that the funds were devoted to improvements and that it meant a subsequent reduction in fuel duty and road tax.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: "The government has made a clear commitment not to toll existing road capacity and this has not changed. We have always said we would look at schemes which would fund significant new capacity through tolling. This would be in very limited circumstances and only where schemes deliver new roads or transform an existing road literally beyond all recognition."

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