‘We could learn to love road pric­ing’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FAMILY CELEBRATIONS -

TRANS­PORT min­is­ter and Kent MP Dr Steve Ladyman has sug­gested driv­ers could come to love road pric­ing if it is in­tro­duced.

The min­is­ter also said he was dis­ap­pointed that no coun­cil in Kent had ex­pressed any in­ter­est in tri­alling a pay-as-you-go scheme.

The gov­ern­ment has been put on the back foot over its pos­si­ble plans af­ter a Down­ing Street on­line pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing road pric­ing drew 1.7 mil­lion sig­na­tures.

But Dr Ladyman said those com­plain­ing now were act­ing pre­ma­turely and the pe­ti­tion had in­hib­ited a bal­anced de­bate about the pro­posal.

He ar­gued that most peo­ple would sup­port the idea once it was prop­erly ex­plained.

Asked if he thought the cur­rent op­po­si­tion to road pric­ing was sim­i­lar to the pub­lic op­po­si­tion to the idea of road charg­ing in cen­tral Lon­don be­fore it was im­ple­mented, he said:

“Ev­ery time charg­ing is in­tro­duced, it is un­pop­u­lar un­til the point at which it comes in.

“Once it is in­tro­duced, ev­ery- body loves it. I am not say­ing that ev­ery­one loves the con­ges­tion charge but more peo­ple now sup­port it than they did be­fore it came in,” he said.

He cited the ex­am­ple of Stock­holm in Swe­den, where a road charg­ing scheme was so con­tro­ver­sial be­fore it was im­ple­mented that 90 per cent of peo­ple sur­veyed had op­posed it in opin­ion polls.

How­ever, when the city au­thor­i­ties con­ducted a ref­er­en­dum on the scheme six months af­ter its in­tro­duc­tion, peo­ple were in favour be­cause “they saw the ben­e­fits of it.”

The min­is­ter urged au­thor­i­ties in Kent to take part in the tri­als, say­ing there was up to £200mil­lion a year avail­able to sup­port schemes.

“There are towns and ar­eas that could ben­e­fit in Kent, like the Thames Gate­way,” he said.

Dr. Stephen Ladyman

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