What is the connection between the cost of travel and your next meal? Unless you live on a farm or have an aquaponics system
in your garden, this connection is very intimate. Food has to be transported; whether it is bananas from the Winward Islands or cabbages grown a few miles away, to get to your table requires transportation, and that means fuel: petrol, diesel or whatever.
The prices of fuels and more generally the cost of travel affects the price of almost everything you buy besides food. Recently, there have been reports nationwide of the growing dependency of ordinary people on food banks, from the capital
, to Ipswich
The cost of travel in the capital
and indeed everywhere in the UK is nothing less than scandalous; it keeps some people: the unemployed, the elderly, even those in work on low paid jobs, virtual prisoners in their own homes much of the time. There are some though for whom the high cost of travel is a blessing rather than a curse, in particular the fat cats of Network Rail. The Chief Executive of this organisation - which is supposed to be serving the public - received a bonus of £99,082 on top of his salary
of £577,000. That's right, the smaller
figure is a bonus.
How many people would be more than satisfied with a fraction of that first figure?
If the cost of travel by rail is extortionate, so is running any sort of vehicle; the heavy duty on fuel is leading to a burgeoning black market in red diesel. This is fuel that is not supposed to be used in ordinary vehicles, but because the duty on it is considerably lower than on ordinary diesel, an increasingly desperate motoring public - including companies - are prepared to take the risk of heavy fines or worse in order to keep their vehicles on the road.
Recently, eight people from the Market Rasen area, including a councillor, appeared in court on charges relating to fuel duty evasion
This practice is actually extremely widespread; the BBC has to date run at least two such investigations into the illicit reselling of red diesel, including one in Northern Ireland.
The cost of the legal investigations - by Customs & Excise - and the resulting criminal trials, is considerable. The use of the motorist and travelling public generally as a cash cow to feed the Treasury's coffers in order to "pay down the deficit" is at best counterproductive, and is at worst undermining the rule of law by making tax cheats out of otherwise law-abiding people.