Local bus companies have proposed introducing a London-style charge on motorists who wish to drive in Newcastle. They claim that this should be done to ‘cut congestion’ but I would not blame some of your more cynical readers if they saw this as a bid to increase bus company profits. London is very different from Newcastle, is much bigger than Newcastle, and has a level of public transport funding that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams.
This charge would add yet another financial burden to already stretched local families and small businesses. It would also do much to discourage people from visiting (and spending money) in Newcastle. We should be encouraging people to visit our cities, not putting them off.
Frankly I think motorists are already paying enough. We pay 58p a litre in fuel duty, then we pay VAT on the cost of the fuel and the duty. We pay road tax, tax on our insurance premiums, extortionate parking charges and a toll to go through the Tyne Tunnel. Should a driver stray into a bus lane for more than a millisecond, a fine quickly follows. If local bus companies want to increase their profits they should focus on improving their service to make bus travel more appealing rather than launching a war against local drivers.
Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East