Is Philip Hammond ending the war on motorists?


Britain’s new Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has promised to end the so-called “war on motorists” and put the focus on development of ‘greener’ cars, rather than trying to curtail the use of the ones already on the road.  This certainly sounds like a good plan in many respects, probably the main one being that a vast majority of drivers are not willing to give up their personal transportation, no matter what the cost.

The “war” involved such actions as requiring local councils to set parking fees that would discourage some drivers and encourage the use of other forms of transport including bus, bicycle and both feet.

This did not work as well as hoped; in fact according to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles it has led to a “parking nightmare”.  Mr. Pickles said that the parking fees and other regulations intended to lessen congestion and improve air quality are unfair to drivers and only makes congestion worse due to cars parked on curbs and verges, endangering cyclists and pedestrians.

Another aspect of the Coalition government’s proposed changes in the area of transport involves the maximum allowance for parking in new housing developments.  About ten years ago the Labour government set 1.5 spaces per unit as the maximum; Mr. Pickles said that restriction would also be lifted.  The idea, again, was that the inconvenience would curtail the number of vehicles owned by a single household, as well as adding to the amount of ‘green space’ remaining in the community.

Mr. Hammond said that the previous government’s approach to the problem was unrealistic, as it put the emphasis on penalizing individual drivers for driving.  He feels that putting more support behind the new generation of low-emission and electric vehicles will be a more effective long-term solution.