back to article Road pricing 'back-burnered' by Brown gov't

Blighty's dark Orwellian future may have been put on hold, as news breaks that the Brown government has abandoned road-pricing plans in their current various forms. The city government of London, meanwhile, under the direction of roguish cheeky-chappie Mayor Ken Livingstone, continues to charge ahead with technology-based …


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  1. Neil Sunerton

    Hopefully it will all be forgotten about

    It strikes me that these road pricing plans are completely daft. We currently have a scheme that charges for road usage, gives a discount for economical vehicles, is cheap and easy to run and difficult to get out of paying. It's called "fuel duty".

    A technologic means of charging per mile with different rates for different roads will be very expensive to run, not work properly, charge the same for both economical and uneconomical vehicles, have privacy concerns and not be paid by criminals. A completely daft idea in my view.

  2. Mike Landers

    Stop me if you've heard this one before...

    ID Cards?

    "It is not the department's intention, at this stage, to take the separate powers needed to price the national road network."

    The killer bit is the "at this stage". Presumably that was written when the bloke writing the policy on road pricing was on a tea break or something.

  3. David Evans


    You're confusing common sense with Ken Livingstone's political agenda, which is to make driving in London so unpalatable that we'll all become good little drones and use public transport in his green/socialist (interchangable) people's paradise. Except him of course, who'll continue to use the polluting black cab network on the public purse.

  4. Dogbyte

    Ah, speed limiters...

    More control-freakery in the name of 'safety'. Yet the government's own figures show that since HGV limiters were made mandatory accicents for that class of vehicle have increased. Presumably if you know you can't speed you don't look where you're going?

  5. Luther Blissett

    Ah, speed limiters...

    Here comes a legal defence to road accidents: "I braked, m'Lud, but the car did not respond. Yes, m'Lud, one of those remote control limiters had been fitted." Some people must still think technology is all and only wonderful.

  6. John A Blackley

    Never, never vote for a tax (or for those who propose taxes)

    Will not be considered at this stage. Riiight.

    The saddest - for me - part of peoples' refusal to vote is their abrogation of their duties to resist taxation. After all, is there anyone in the United Kingdom who is unaware of Broon's agenda to squeeze the middle classes until their pips squeak? Broon's major coup, as far as I can see, has been to invent so many new words and phrases that all mean 'tax' that the voters in the UK are quite bamboozled.

    The 'congestion charge' in London is a tax. Every other city's 'congestion charge' will be a tax. The proposed 'road usage fee' (and they will bring it up again when the political climate is more favorable - after all, it is A Darling's raison d'etre) will be a tax.

    Now, those of you who currently drive in Ken's London: Do you receive any relief in fuel duty, 'road tax' or any other tax associate with using your car to compensate you for the increased tax you pay for the 'privilege' of driving in London. Of course you don't.

    You will never - never - see any tax being rescinded, reduced or returned in compensation for a new tax being levied and so your only defence is - at every election - to grill candidates on their position on taxes. Any candidate who refuses to sign up to a statement that, "I will do everything in my power to reduce taxes and will never increase taxes or introduce new taxes" should be taken out back and thumped.

    Of course, those who do sign up to such a statement will be damnable liars but at least - in the moment they sign up - you may experience hope.

    Tongue now out of cheek: Please vote at every possible opportunity.

  7. Mike Hocker
    Black Helicopters

    Oh, the possibilities!

    Isolate areas of roadway by downloading 0kph rings of roads? No speeding tickets since the gov set the speed limit? (my goodness, the revenue loss!)

    Multitiered speed limits, the fatter your wallet, the faster you are allowed to go? (isn't this the way it is now?)

    Would the speed limits on non-roads be 0kph, or infinite kph?

    If the sat signal (GPS, Galileo (if the Euros ever get off the ground), or Glonass (if the Russkies finish getting off the ground)) was cracked, there would be ... fascinating ... effects.

    I dunno, I liked the German system for trucks (is that working yet after it flopped the first time 'round?) where GPS was used for location and from that, for toll/road tax collection (extra fees for speeding)-- which would be especially good for electric and LNG/CNG cars, the buggers don't pay road tax in their "fuel" but jolly well use the roads anyway.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Since you appear to know so much about it, you would know that HGV speed limiters only restrict a vehicles top speed and as such, only reduce the (legal) top speed available by 4 mph. Hardly a cause of more accidents I feel.

    Perhaps the year on year increase in cars and associated incompetent car drivers has more to do with it ?

    @ Luther Blissett

    The speed limiters do not affect the brakes, they are not cruise control (which turns off when the brakes are applied anyway).

    I think all cars should be fitted with digital tachographs the same as HGVs, so each driver needs to insert their drivers card before they drive. Then the police have an up to the minute record of your ridiculous driving habits.

    If you want to cure the congestion, get the 75% empty cars off the road. How can it be efficient or desirable to need 1.5 to 2 tonnes of metal to transport each person to work and back each day ?

    Bloody status symbols and toys, that's all they are. Trucks on the other hand provide a vital service. Nothing you eat or own could be provided to you without being transported at some stage by a truck. And they do it more efficiently than any other means. If you wanted to replace trucks with vans, just bear in mind, you would need 20 transit sized vans to replace just 1 articulated lorry of 44 tonnes.

    And they would consume 10 times the fuel for the equivalent load shifted, plus 20 times the wages for drivers, and approximately 7 times the capital outlay to buy from new. And how would your congestion look then ?

    I don't think you realise how many artics it takes to keep just one supermarket going for a week. Not supermarket chain, just one shop. Maybe we should go for it and see how you like queuing for food when they can't fill the shelves.

  9. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Surprised? Hardly...

    The whole road-charging scheme was based on the idea that the Eu would have its own nifty GPS with encrypted - chargable - signals that could be tied in to the charging system. Since Gallileo is about a year away from going completely titsup is it any surprise Brown has decided to cancel this particular invasion of lour civil liberties?


    "Since you appear to know so much about it, you would know that HGV speed limiters only restrict a vehicles top speed and as such"

    Do you know how limiters work? When you hit the pre-defined speed limit they drop your revs to nill until you've slowed down again. Driving instructors will shout and scream at any learner who drops the clutch and takes their foot off the accelerator for any period longer than that necessary to change gears.

    I'm sure you've seen a HGV passing another, racing along for miles while barely managing to pass. Because of those limiters you seem to love so much can't accelerate up past 60, and trucks often lose power right when they're about to pull back in front of the vehicle they just passed. Frankly, if you can't see how bloody dangerous this, is then you shouldn't be driving.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Neil Sunerton

    I agree with your views on fuel duty but a road charging scheme could have different pricing for different vehicles. They already know our cars' CO2 emissions and charge us different amounts for a tax disc accordingly. That's why mine costs £205p.a. and not £35p.a.

  11. Steve Evans
    Black Helicopters

    Don't believe a word of it...

    The Government has said the decision will be made by the local authorities... As local authorities are constantly strapped for cash thanks to central government cutbacks, they'll do anything to rake in some more cash.

    So they'll happily introduce road pricing, and central gov will happily sit at a safe distance and claim it was nothing to do with them.

  12. Steve Evans


    You speak much sense. Apart from anything else my brother is a class 1 driver.

    I would happily remove my 75% empty car from the road, if there was a viable alternative for my journeys. However no matter where I go, even with the constant fuel tax increases, it is always cheaper and faster to drive my car. Not to mention I can go when I want, come back when I want, and have a ciggi on the way if I so choose!

    What we need is an integrated transport system. In days gone by we had the best rail network on the planet, which carried a lot of the freight. Unfortunately (at the request of the government) Dr Beeching put paid to that in the 1960s, then in the 1990s the rail network got sold off to 100 faceless layers of middle management who couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery, and are only interested in the bottom line.

  13. Sarev


    Yes, trucks only ever crash because car drivers are all useless. Truck drivers are all salt of the Earth, highly trained and fully alert at all times.

    If cars are so bad, I guess I'll just buy a truck to drive from my place to everywhere else, seeing as there's no public transport. I'll just divert to Poland on every trip to pick up a load of potatoes first.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Active speed management

    I did some software development work on a project called Road Traffic Advisor once. This was rolled out in experimental form on some UK motorways, and allowed an onboard computer and display to receive local information updates from beacons suspended over the carriageway.

    One of the features that was tried on one of the test platform cars was speed sensitive throttle control. Such that as you attempted to exceed the speed limit, the resistance felt as the driver attempted to push the pedal further would increase. So you could still exceed the limit, but you were made aware that nanny knew what was happening.

    Every single person who tried the car with this feature active universally loathed it!

  15. Steven Pepperell


    "I don't think you realise how many artics it takes to keep just one supermarket going for a week"

    Yeah, wouldn't need many if we got rid of 75% of cars. as i could only buy 2 bags of shopping cause i would have to carry them on to the bus. plus it would currently take me 3 buses and about an hour to get to said supermarket in the first place.

    Or i could drive......

    I use the train when i can but public transport is useless in my area so i need to drive to the train station. My thoughts normally go to de-privatising buses and trains but with our current government im not so sure that's a good idea...

    However if sombody starts a petition on removing show off 4x4's (not defenders, but hulking big BMW's with low profile tyres, which are really good when you hit mud honest :-E and that just to ship little Johnny to school cause its all of 2 mins down the road, yes i walked to school and my legs havnt fallen off YET!).....continues have a mutley moment

  16. Alex King

    @ Alan

    "Bloody status symbols and toys, that's all they are."

    Woe betide us if we actually want to have any fun with our "toys". So we'll ban these "toys", televisions, aeroplanes and anything that consumes electricity (including that thing you typed your ever-so-essential post on. Thanks to this we'd never be able to go anywhere remote or unspoiled or unique to enjoy this planet we've "saved", and we'd be forced to sit shivering in a darkened room, huddled around a little heater powered by a mini-urban-wind-turbine and never seeing anyone or anything that was beyond cycling distance.

    Frankly, I'd rather drown - though I suspect it would be in a sea of blindfolded pseudo-environmentalism well before the polar ice caps melted because of my toys.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Lorry drivers

    Anyone who wants to know about these should stand on the hill overlooking the A20 coming out of Dover.

    'nuff said?

  18. Andrew

    Speed Advisers could be fun...

    Consider, I'm driving along with my (government sanctioned/certified) speed adviser system activated and I'm flashed by a safety camera.

    I can now call one govt. dept. as a defence witness against another govt. dept.

    I'm sure the brighter minds here can think up even more tempting scenarios.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Last weekend I went to London from my home town in West Yorkshire.

    It was cheaper (and more convenient) for me to drive my 3 litre petrol car all the way to London (doing 27 MPG), pay congestion charges and park on Hyde Park square, than it was to buy a train ticket.

    Until this situation changes, any amount of road pricing schemes, congestion charges, road tax, or other ridiculous schemes will be utterly futile.

  20. Steve Foster

    London Speeds

    I thought the whole of inner London was a giant speed limiting device already, seeing as how the average speed is 8-9mph anyway...

    Has the average risen in the now supposedly-less-congested congestion charging zone?

  21. david wilson

    Passing HGVs

    >>"I'm sure you've seen a HGV passing another, racing along for miles while barely managing to pass."

    Why do they bother trying to pass, if the vehicle they're passing is going at effectively the same speed they are?

  22. Steve Roper

    Speed limiters? You mean automatic fining machines!

    Has nobody considered the inevitable behaviour of these "speed limiters"? They won't warn you, or slow you down. What they'll do is record each mile you speed and clock up the fines accordingly. Next time you pass a government WAP, it uploads its fine data and your bank account is automatically debited the amount of the fine. And if that puts you into the red, tough. You can pay the overdraw fees as well!

    That's where this is going.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tell me again

    Why did Saruman come to power?

  24. Mr Larrington
    Paris Hilton

    HGV wossname

    A few weeks ago, a Nice Man with a Mighty M.A.N gave me lift from Newhaven to the Brook Street roundabout. I noted with interest how well his speed limiter worked as we powered along the A27 at 70 mph. "It sometimes takes a while for the computer to wake up" he said.

    Another factoid is that while the polis will turn a blind eye to lorries doing 56 mph rather than 50 on dual carriageways, the major supermarkets won't, and /insist/ that their drivers stick to the speed limits at all times. Which is why you can spend ten minutes pottering across the scenic delights of Lincolnshire while a stream of heavies eases past Mr Tesco.

    What I /really/ wanted to say, though, was this: "It has been back-burnered," according to a Telegraph "senior government source".

    "Back-burnered"? Who in the name of spackling hildebrands employs these people? Shoot them, and burn the bodies.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    easy solution to congestion

    Create small, dedicated lanes on the motorways for motorcycles and give them a 120mph speed limit. A significantly faster commute has got to be a big draw.

    This would reduce the congestion in the cities too, as commuters would arrive on bikes.

    Good for the environment as the engines are smaller and don't have to move heavy vehicles. It also allows those with a mid-life crisis to justify that Harley :)

    OK so it isn't a great solution for the British winter, but if people had an incentive to get a bike, they might use it once they had it, instead of the car.

  26. JasonW

    Fuel Duty - already collected...

    Neil Sunerton hit the nail on the head in #1

    Why is there a need to know where the car is to charge? If I want to reduce pollution, I buy a more economical one and use it when I know it's likely to be less congested. Net result I use less fuel, cause less pollution and therefore pay less duty. As fuel duty is already collected then there's a zero net increase in collection costs, I don't need to get anything fitted to my vehicle both I and the Government "win"

  27. Chris

    @ Mike Landers

    Are you *that* Mike Landers?

  28. Graham Bartlett


    Mr AC, you're dead right. Even more depressingly, when my wife and I wanted to go up to visit friends in Edinburgh, it was significantly cheaper to get the plane than the train! If the people running the railways can't see what's wrong with THAT particular picture, there really is no helping them.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed limiters not required for every car

    If Ken gets all the TfL vehicles fitted, and say, all the Post Office vans, and all the taxis, etc. then all these vehicles will have long tails of cars following them.

    The enraged drivers who insist that it is their right to exceed speed limits will resort to wild overtaking maneuvers round blind corners and Darwinian selection will remove them from the gene pool.


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    here is a thought

    Instead of blaming the motorists why not computerise the traffic light systems so that if say the speed limit is 30 miles an hour and you drive at 30 the next set of lights will be on green when you arrive this would not be as complicated and would cost a fraction of what I would to track every car in the country on every road. Oh ye you would not make money out of it, shame though as I would cute my time to work by about 30 mins

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Look to the more hybrids and other technologies are on the roads the government collects less in fuel duty as people use less fuel.

    somehow they have to make up the looming hole in the accounts, they are just looking ahead now as to how. Funny how when it comes to collecting money the government can afford the time and effort to plan ahead.

    take it to an extreme, there's only so much oil..once it runs out what are they going to tax instead. Does anyone honestly think that if biofuels really take off or electric vehicles the current exemptions won't melt away.

    where's the big bad government icon

  32. Steve B

    Thatcher did it already...

    Back in the days of Thatcher there was a plan to stop the road tax and transfer it to petrol. In preparation for this in one budget the fuel duty was ramped up considerably, from the normal 1 or 2 p rise to the heights of 20p or similar.

    Naturally the other part about stopping the Road Tax was not proceeded as no one complained.

    I personally blame Yes Minister as it gave the idiot politicians, with no capabilities other than being able to talk well, the belief that they actually knew what they were doing and could run the country safely ignoring all advice contrary to their own opinion.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ David Wilson

    "Why do they bother trying to pass, if the vehicle they're passing is going at effectively the same speed they are?"

    I think they take it in turns to tail-gate each other in order to save fuel costs.

  34. Karl

    This isn't democracy!!!!!!!

    This is slimeball Brown trying to win favour with the electorate. We didn't vote for this piece of facist legislation, so why in earth is it democracy?

    Should these thieving socialists win another term, it will be back on the socialist idiots agenda faster than John Prescott could swallow a KFC bargain bucket by himself.

    NuLabour should carry a health warning!

  35. Chris

    @ Karl

    "This is slimeball Brown trying to win favour with the electorate. We didn't vote for this piece of facist legislation, so why in earth is it democracy?"

    Because in a democracy you vote for your *representatives*, not for the *legislation*.

    And you get the representatives you deserve.

  36. Beachhutman

    it'll be back

    when the EU insists on it, so they can use the revenue to pay the cost of the galileo silliniess

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