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Richmond Parking Permit

Tax is beyond any sense of fairness

A supposed environmental tax that charges a large family hundreds of pounds to park their car on the road while a neighbour can park the biggest-engined vehicle on a driveway and pay nothing destroys any sense of fair play, says the AA.

Richmond Borough Council's final approval for huge increases to resident parking permit charges discriminates against large families who need large vehicles to function. It also betrays the principle of the parking permit system - set up to protect residents' parking from commuters and other drivers, not to be used as a tool to punish residents for the type of car they drive

The whole concept of the borough's CO2 emissions-based punishment is flawed. With London borough drivers averaging 3,800 miles per year and town drivers outside the M25 averaging 5,900, many so-called gas-guzzlers produce annually no more CO2 than a Ford Fiesta in Basingstoke. Government figures show that CO2 emissions from passengers cars in 2004, the most recent figures, were virtually the same as they were in 1994 - with 5.8 million extra cars on the road compared to a decade ago. Drivers are already taxed nearly 70 per cent for the fuel they use, a deeply unpopular but more even reflection of type of car, type of use and mileage.

"Richmond's attack on "gas-guzzlers" has hidden the fact that many of these cars are large family estates and people carriers needed to get children to school, leisure activities and journey out of town. Many parents choose outlying London boroughs so that they can leave the car at home during the day and commute into the city on public transport to work," says Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy for AA Public Affairs.

"The attack on 4x4s has been used as a smokescreen to hide the fact that ordinary cars will be charged 10, 30 and 50 per cent more for their parking permits, with half again for second cars. Many will react, as planning law permits, by parking their cars in their front gardens, turning Acacia Avenue into Asphalt Avenue - the council effectively scoring an environmental own goal."

Watters adds: "Other councils, both London boroughs and across the UK, will look to follow Richmond's badly misguided policy. The AA urges them to look carefully at the facts and fairness of such a move, and act in a more measured way. Hitting families with huge increases in parking permit charges and giving them no time to plan, budget and buy alternatives is not an environmental move, it's a tax-raising exercise. We await the legal challenge to this decision."

Media contact: AA Public Affairs on 01256 493493

(31 January 2007)