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In the last month two coalition ministers have used ‘the war on the motorist’ to flag up different measures to make life easier for the poor beleagured motorist.
In one case, encouraging local councils to free up city centre car parking places to facilitate easier parking, so discouraging motorists to drive to cheaper out of town shopping. And in the other, to abandon the fuel duty escalator in the light of rising oil prices to ease the cost of motoring.
In these cases the war on the motorist is being construed largely in terms of cost, convenience, and boosting city centre shopping. There may well be other underlying factors.
In terms of cost of travel, if there is a war then there are lots of stats to show how public transport costs have risen far more than motoring costs over the last ten years and longer.
The ‘war’ then is against train and bus users rather than motorists. My point is, why is this mythical war against the motorist so rarely challenged in the mainstream media and what can be done to challenge it?
In terms of convenience, the answer is not more or subsidised parking but reclaiming space for sustainable modes of travel. It was disappointing to see that Lancaster City Council only two weeks ago voted to maintain its subsidised city centre car parking for council employees, especially as LCC is supposed to be committed to a green travel plan for its workers and the CDT project.
While boosting city centre shopping may be no bad thing, the way to do it is through park and ride schemes, public transport etc. otherwise atmospheric pollution levels and congestion increases. Lancaster’s toxic air levels are often over the legal limit.