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article imageOp-Ed: Is the UK being taxed to a standstill?

By Alexander Baron     Feb 7, 2012 in Politics
Travelling throughout the UK has become increasingly expensive, so has standing still, as local authorities and even hospitals look for innovative ways to pick the pockets of the commuter, shopper and trader alike.
The front page story in the Bromley News Shopper for February 1 was CCTV MENACE IS KILLING OUR SHOPS
The same page displayed a photograph of a group of local traders looking none too pleased. The bottom line is that Bromley Council has been sending out a special car five days a weeks to photograph cars that park, however briefly, in the loading bays of the local shops.
This has resulted in a dramatic downturn in trade. Pity Banu Patel co-owner of The Country Store who calls the car a menace.
Pity florist Susan Taylor.
Pity them all.
Today, it was reported that Northern Ireland has the highest fuel prices in the UK. This doesn't mean that fuel can be bought cheaply anywhere, simply that in some places, fuel prices are outrageous, and in other places they are even more outrageous.
In 1968, Anita Harris recorded a song about taking a tuppenny bus ride; that was when there were 240 pennies to a pound. Today, a bus ride in London will cost at least £1.40. An off-peak travel card for the capital will set you back nearly £8, and taxi fares, well, if you can bear to look, click here.
For those fortunate enough to own their own cars, or unlucky enough to need to, petrol (gas) is far from the only running cost; there is tax, congestion charge in some places, astronomical parking charges with even higher fines, and insurance. Insurance for the young will set you back at the very least £30 per week, which makes those robber train fares and the occasional taxi look almost attractive.
What can and should be done about this? One thing that might have an effect is to sign an epetition for lower fares/duty, etc. There are a number of these, the most successful appears to have been started by the Conservative Robert Halfon. At 13.56 London time today it had attracted no fewer than 137,151 signatures. You can add yours here. It remains to be seen if signing it will do any good, but not signing it certainly won't.
What others things can be done? How about renationalising the so-called privatised rail network to start with? It remains to be seen why these supposedly private companies should also be allowed to pick the pocket of the taxpayer.
The biggest problem though, as ever, is not really fuel prices, but debt. Until the British Government and indeed every government worldwide tackles this fundamental issue, the train companies, the bus companies, the local authorities, even hospital car parks will continue to see the motorist, the commuter, the shopper, everyone who is mobile, as a source not only of legitimate revenue but de facto taxation as well.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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