Welsh Conservatives have angrily reacted to plans for Motorists in Wales paying road tolls, congestion charges, workplace and out of town parking charges under a review ordered by Minister of Economy and Transport Ken Skates.
He has appointed Derek Turner, who worked on the London congestion charge scheme, to study the implications for users and businesses as Welsh Government invests in and incentivises public transport. The initial study should be completed by next autumn and become part of a future strategy by Welsh Government.
Greater public transport is the sustainable method in future and demand management measures – charges for using roads and parking – are seen as necessary to force people to change habits.
The study will look at the Welsh and wider implications of charges and effects on businesses, individuals and investment so that cheaper rates in one place will not favour that over another location, either in Wales or England.
Public opinion will also be taken into account so communities are not disadvantaged by any road or parking schemes.
Derek Turner CBE, FREng, is a former Deputy Chief Executive of the Highways Agency responsible for all aspects of the Strategic Road Network including the development of Smart Motorways.
He was previously Managing Director of Street Management at Transport for London including the development and introduction of congestion charging and all aspects of London’s traffic signal installation and control systems.
Mr Turner was appointed two years ago to head a company, Zenzic, which looks at connected and autonomous vehicles and transport network.
Opposition reaction to the study was quick.
Shadow Transport Minister Russell George AM said, “We’ve already seen plans for a tourism tax, a vacant land tax, and a possible social care tax, from the Welsh Government so it should come as no surprise that Labour Ministers are paving the way to clobber motorists too.
“While we Conservatives have been cutting costs for motorists by scrapping the Severn Crossing Tolls, we’ve seen Labour politicians in Wales seeking to increase them.
“In many parts of rural Wales cars are a necessity, not a choice, and public transport is not a viable alternative. On top of this an electric vehicle revolution now underway, and it is clear that roads are becoming a greener mode of transport than they once were.
“While we fully support the ambition to promote active travel in the face of the climate emergency, taxing hard-pressed motorists who have no choice other than to travel by car isn’t the right approach.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament, Paul Davies AM/AC added, “Unlike Welsh Labour, our instincts are to cut taxes, not increase them; there will be no new taxes under a Welsh Conservative Government.”