Keltruck’s Chairman & MD, Chris Kelly, has written to The Birmingham Post opposing the introduction of congestion charging in the West Midlands.

Who is Controlling Whom?

Dear Editor, I write regards to your comments, headed ‘MP’s are split, but at least they turn up’ (Post, Dec 14), concerning the debate in the House of Commons on December 13 on congestion charging.

You point out that there was a good attendance of West Midland MPs at the debate and that they were divided on the proposed new taxes.

Some, of course, were there to toe their party’s line whatever and others, like the former Transport Minister John Spellar MP, pleasingly were against it. I would hope that he was mindful of the fact that his poorer constituents would be hit the hardest by the proposed the tax.

But the strange thing in all of this is that the Gridlock or Growth document, initiated at great cost to the local taxpayer by Centro’s evidently left-of-centre management, and by the brief that they handed down to their consultants, heavily supports congestion charging of course. Whereas, in Centro’s membership of seven of the local authorities in the area, only two are controlled by Labour. So one could rightly ask: who is controlling whom at Centro?

With Conservatives now effectively in charge of Centro, how is it that its management are able to dictate policy to the majority of the Tory-controlled councils?

This is the $64,000 question of the recent past. However, the good news for the hundreds of business folk worried, as I was, about the dire effects that congestion charging and workplace parking taxes would bring, is that both Chris Grayling, the shadow Transport Secretary, (Post, Dec 5), and Owen Paterson MP, the shadow Roads Minister, (in the Commons), have both publicly stated that they are against the plan.

So at the next meeting of the newly-formed West Midlands Conservative Transport Group, to which all of the seven Conservative council leaders and their transport portfolio holders have been invited, the Conservative position on congestion charging locally will become very much clearer for all – including, I hope, Centro.

But not only that, there will, of course, be a general election in between the Government’s undoubted plans to tax us all further in this way and the electorate will have their own opportunity to decide if they want another round of a tax and misspend Government.

West Bromwich

Andrew Bentley, MInst SMM
Head of Vehicle Contracts and Marketing