‘We could learn to love road pricing’
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