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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Motorists face tough curbs
Traffic jam
There is speculation about the introduction of new road taxes
The new Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has said he would consider plans to get tough with motorists in a bid to cut traffic congestion.

His comments, made in his first interview since taking over from Stephen Byers, have led some to believe he will take a fresh look at introducing new road taxes.

All car drivers accept there has to be some constraint

Alistair Darling

Mr Darling told the Financial Times: "It's simply not possible to have more and more traffic on streets designed hundreds of years ago for horses and carts.

"People say you must be anti-car then. That's nonsense. I drive a car.

"We shouldn't be stopping people from doing what they want to, but all car drivers accept there has to be some constraint simply because we can't all drive down one road at the same time."

However, he said his first priority was to improve public transport.

He also stressed the need to get general public acceptance of his plans.

Fear of backlash

Last month, Mr Byers insisted he was not prepared to "punish" motorists to cut congestion levels.

He made his opinions clear after the government's 10-year transport plan was heavily criticised by the influential cross-party Commons transport committee.

MPs attacked the government's perceived failure to tackle the issue of traffic congestion for fear of a backlash from motorists.

Alistair Darling
Mr Darling: Regarded as a safe pair of hands
Mr Byers reinforced his position, saying ministers were not prepared to adopt controversial measures, such as local road charging schemes, until the public transport network had significantly improved.

He said: "The reality is that cars will remain the mode of travel for most journeys for the foreseeable future.

"It would be a fundamental mistake to ignore the fact that 80% of journeys taken every day are taken by people in their cars.

"That has got to be reflected in a realistic 10-year plan.

"I am not in the business of punishing people because they choose to use their car."


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29 May 02 | UK Politics
30 May 02 | Middle East
30 May 02 | UK Politics
30 May 02 | UK Politics
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