I spoke against an amendment to the policy letter from the Environment Department setting out a new funding structure in July 2015. Basically it sought funding from general revenue just to support funding of the bus contract. I made it clear that funding was needed and things couldn’t continue as they are. The debate focussed on hypothecation in the policy letter, hence my opening comments.
Sir, This is not about hypothecation it is about suffocation.
The questions over hypothecation are all very well. Ironically it was the Ancient Greeks who had all their taxes earmarked and I wonder whether if their ancestors had done so they wouldn’t be in the mess they are at the moment. You can argue it one way or the other. Personally, I like the transparency it gives though I understand why Treasury & Resources don’t like it as it gives them less control over the purse strings.
However, managing the matching process is far from simple and will require close monitoring and adjustments. That does mean an element of uncertainty.
- Fuel duty for instance. Substantial increases will need to be made as cars become more efficient. Consideration may need to be made to taxing electric cars as they become more popular. In other words, it will not be a stable form of revenue.
- Indeed, if the strategy is effective you would expect that revenues would also decrease – unless taxes are increased on a few and then other considerations will start to kick in ie when the costs is not spread evenly – is it fair then?
- The fact that it is quite possible the income is uncertain also an issue.
That doesn’t mean this approach is wrong, but it does mean It will be very important to monitor income and expenditure carefully. These are clearly estimates with a lot of variables. We have no idea what the actual funding will be should we approve these proposals today and less so as we look into the future.
Deputy Kuttelwascher has made no secret of the fact he does not believe in it and wouldn’t be seeking funding at all if the bus contract hadn’t been signed.
I am happy to support the Department’s proposals as I want to see infrastructure improvements that make it easier for people to use alternative forms of transport. And I’ll give just one example of where it isn’t. Now, my daughter uses the buses a lot. And she may well be one reason why there has been a rise in bus passenger journerys over the last year.
She has got an encyclopedic knowledge of which bus goes where and when, possibly second only to Deputy Gollop here. Well for a while she used the 81 bus to get home, which stops on Rue Poudreuse, only a few hundred metres from home. However, crossing the road at Les Merriennes junction has proven to be so difficult, with vehicles zooming past from 3 directions, she has given up. She has worked out she can get another bus, which is on a route further away in St Martin, but she’s willing to do that as she likes walking and isn’t old enough to drive, and actually likes the buses. However, I wonder how many others are put off doing that, especially those who work and are time poor.
And, just down the road I am currently trying to help residents on Les Frieteaux who put their lives at risk everytime they try to cross the road but are told that there is nothing that can be done as there isn’t any funding. And, I am sure there are many others out there who are put off by the poor pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.
So, I do still believe that the strategy should be given a chance and not strangled after long and painful birth. That is why I can’t support the amendment and will support the recommendations in the Department’s report.
I have to say I struggled very much knowing how to vote in the transport strategy debate. I did a lot of research beforehand and had a lot of concerns – these are evident in my speeches, which you can read below. It was a very difficult decision for me that doesn’t across from looking at a simple Pour or Contre on a voting list.
I did not support the idea of a free bus service and I am not a supporter of paid parking. However, we were told it was an integrated strategy and messing around with one thing would affect another. That had always been the problem with strategies in the past – they had been tinkered with so there was nothing joined up and they didn’t work. That was the context in which the debate took place – all or nothing – and I wanted to see things done to make alternative forms of transport more appealing and to make our Island a better place to live. I still do want to make it safer to walk our pavements and ride a bike. It should also be noted that I only supported the report on the assurance from Deputy Burford, now the Environment Minister, that paid parking would not be introduced until there was an adequate bus service. What that adequate service should be and who decides remains unclear. The lack of any details from the Environment Department is a cause for concern. All that will be for the March debate and the paid parking requete.
In terms of the Burford/Brehaut amendment on width and emissions, my particular concern was that the finances did not stack up with £1.6m potentially being wiped off the accounts. How can a strategy be effective when half the revenue expected from an income source will be raised? How does the Department believe that it can be after it told us it was an integrated strategy that shouldn’t be fiddled with? It is for those reasons I couldn’t support the amendment.
My speech in the debate is below.
Sir, I will be brief, I had no intention of speaking in this debate as I believed that every aspect of this amendment would be well debated by others and I’ve been proven correct – except in one area – and I’ll speak about that in a minute.
Before I do, I’d like to make a couple of observations from what I’ve heard that I believe bear comment.
The first is something Deputy Gollop said this morning. He said – if we support tobacco duty as a means of influencing behaviour we should support the width & emissions duty – but I would contend that if you support tobacco duty a meaningful comparision would in fact be fuel duty.
The other point I would make is with regard to a comment made by Deputy Fallaize where he said he didn’t believe it would change the number of car sales. Well, I actually agree with him on that. But I do believe, certainly if the aim is to influence behaviour, that it will affect the value of car sales, which will affect profitability of the car dealers and could therefore result in redundancies.
Whilst clearly, as a member of HSSD, I agree with Deputy Bebb, we have a literally growing obesity problem and need to tackle that, I very much agree with what Deputy Trott has just said. I still have heard nothing today that assures me about the funding effect of this amendment and the fact that there is a claimed shortfall of £1.6m. I’m not convinced that this will actually be the shortfall, nor that this won’t water down the effectiveness of the strategy. I have struggled over how to vote ont he amendment and have listened to bothe sides but in the end, and having regard to the difficult decisions that are going to have to be made in the personal tax and benefits review denate, I can’t support this amendment.
My speech on the 2 proposals is below.
Sir, Speaking from a personal point of view I must say that I consider the minority report better written, better thought through and better considered than the main report. The presentation was certainly more professional and I commend Deputy Burford in particular for the hard work she has put in since the beginning of this term in developing a strategy and what has become the minority report.
There are some great ideas in both reports. In particular I support all the ideas to make the environment better for those wanting to get from A to B on 2 wheels or 2 legs. For too long, cyclists on this Island have been considered irritants who just get in the way of the motorist. Government should positively support those who choose the alternative forms of transport. This is essential if societal attitudes are to change.
Yesterday, Deputy Laurie Queripel talked about a cycle tax, but he completely misses the point that the taxes, charges, whatever you want to call them are designed to influence behaviour. The last thing we should therefore be doing is taxing a mode of transport we want to encourage.
So, Yes we need more cycle lanes, one-way systems, cycle networks. We’ve needed them for years.
At the same time I also agree with the need to promote responsible driving. I find it amazing how people’s personalities completely change when they get behind the wheel. The Canadian Philosopher Marshall mcluhan once remarked, and I quote, ‘The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man.’
And, believe me the best place to witness this, or should that be worst place, is on a bike. Being cut up by a driver who tries to pass you with just inches to spare or getting as close to your rear wheel and revving the engine, these are selfish and thoughtless actions that should be addressed. And of course some cyclists aren’t immune from criticism either. But Cyclists are vulnerable road users. I was once knocked off my bike at the top of the Grange. Fortunately for me I got hit by a Hyundai Amica and not a Range Rover or other 4WD. Indeed I do wonder who came off better, the car which had a broken wing mirror and windscreen which I hit head on, or me with my broken ribs, bruises and headache. Whatever, having had rather a closer encounter with an automobile than is good for you, I did end up having to be stretchered off in an ambulance to the PEH and whilst I was being transported one of the paramedics on board told me their term for a cyclist here is ‘future customer’.
We can’t let that continue. So I welcome all initiatives to make our roads a less stressful and dangerous place to be.
But then, I couldn’t see anyone here really objecting to either of the above elements of the report. It all seems obvious and long overdue. To me this should be the first part of any strategy to develop and implement.
BUT, if only it was as easy as that. These reports also contain other, more far reaching proposals to consider and I’d just like to focus on 3 of the most contentious – First Registration Duty, Buses and Paid Parking.
Now, both reports do adopt a First Registration Duty. I’m not convinced that a vehicle’s width should be used as a basis of taxation, because it does not reflect the overall impact of a vehicle on the road And I do have issues regarding the effect of this element of the Duty for certain businesses which is why I have laid an amendment.
However, that aspect side I do believe it is about time we dealt with the polluting effects of motor vehicles – the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions on this Island. We are far behind other more enlightened jurisdictions in seeking to reduce CO2 emissions and it would be incomprehensible for this not to be part of any transport strategy
The question is whether such a Duty is significant enough to achieve its stated aim of behavioural change.
From the analysis I have done I believe there is little in the Main report to incentivise people to move to a smaller, less polluting vehicle. I took the annualised cost provided of the vehicles listed on page 621 and divided that by the car’s ex-VAT price. What I found was that the annualised cost of buying a Ford KA as a proportion of its retail price would be just 0.6%, in fact the same as for a larger, more expensive BMW520i. So how will that influence the buying decision?
The Minority report is better structured such that a larger, more polluting car will attract a proportionately higher annualised cost. For instance in this case there would be no charge for a Ford Ka but, for a Landrover Freelander the annualised cost as a proportion of its retail price would be 1.3%.
It also make sense to offer a subsidy for electric vehicles to offset the higher purchase price to some extent. Just taxing is not enough. This is something other jurisdictions such as France have realised they need to bring in. So, for me the version of First Registration Duty is better developed in the Minority Report.
However, saying all that, I am unsure whether a first registration duty will be as effective in influencing behaviour as an annual tax. It will take longer to have an effect and may have unintended consequences in terms of buying choices.
Turning to the buses. Current usage is pitiful. I did a rough calculation as to bus occupancy using the annual passenger figures and number of routes operated throughout the year and worked out that the average bus occupancy is approximately 9 people. This is for buses with a maximum occupancy of around 50. We find out from the transport consultation that just 3% of respondents used the bus 5 days a week but 66% think that there are sufficient bus routes around them. So why don’t we all use buses? The answer is given further on where 77% say car usage is essential , with 91% saying it is more convenient than public transport.
So, will making the buses free make any difference? I really don’t think it will. And, apart from the noise over charging visitors more than locals, the evidence is that people think the fares are very reasonable now anyway.
The problem is not the cost it is the service provided and on that basis I welcome the initiatives in both reports to incentivise people to hop on a bus. BUT I see no reason to make the bus service free, especially when we consider all the other expenditure demands at the moment and there is no guarantee bus usage will increase, or have any effect on vehicle congestion. Indeed I seem to recall when the bus drivers went on strike last year how many people commented on how the traffic flowed better. Even what was known as the Soviet Socialist Republic of Sheffield charged 20p a ride in the 1980s. About 80-90p now. It was really popular, but then it was also a really well run service.
So, yes, let’s get the smaller shuttle buses, let’s have the bus tracker apps, let’s have more suitable bus shelters. Get a proper fit for purpose bus service and it may get more people out of their cars. At the end of the day, we do not have the density of population ever to have a public transport service that meets the needs of every person wherever they live to enable them to go wherever they want whenever they want on this Island.
So finally and inexorably I come to paid parking. I know there are some here with very strong feelings about whether or not we should introduce paid parking. But I have always had an open mind about the merits or otherwise. I have spent the last couple of months listening to the arguments on both sides and they both sound fair and reasonable in theory, from using paid parking to change behaviour on the one hand to the fact that it is inequitable, on the other. I have listened and questioned. I’ve also read numerous research papers, one in French, though it did involve heavy use of Google Translate and so I may not have got the full picture. I have come into this with an open mind.
BUT, I am still concerned about the principle of paid parking in the manner envisaged in the minority report. And I’ll give a couple of reasons why.
The first arose from watching a BBC series being broadcast at the moment called Parking Mad. This documentary follows the battle between wardens, bailiffs and drivers primarily over parking fines but also sheds a light on how parking charges influence behaviour. In the first episode we saw a pay and display car park right next to a train station completely empty, but motorists were driving around the neighbourhood to find free kerbside spaces, making life a misery for the residents. I believe, if paid parking were introduced here, especially if only in town car parks, exactly the same thing will happen here. It would just move the parking problem further away. It will be just another way in which Guernsey will turn into Little England and we won’t be the better for it.
Another reason for concern relates to the counter argument to the point that paid parking is inequitable. The proponents of paid parking say that it is expensive to run a car anyway and so the poorest in our society will be better off without one. However, the authors of the report have explicitly stated that they do not want to get rid of the motor car, only to cut down unnecessary journeys by car and that there are times when we all need one. So, this strategy will have little effect other than to make life less convenient for those who I would argue are not only cash poor, but time poor as well.
So, in summary, I believe the minority report is, in many ways superior to that of the Main report and I’m therefore inclined to support it at this stage. Indeed, as with Deputy Duquemin, I was so underwhelmed by the Department’s presentation of its report that I feel like there is little belief in what they are proposing anyway. I may not have agreed with all Deputy Burford said, I don’t, but at least she believed in what she was saying.
However, I am still concerned about the effects of paid parking in practice, especially before we know we have an adequate bus service and before those in the public and private sector who get a car parking space are similarly charged.
The application of the user pays principle in this situation is also a big issue that has only just been touched on in debate. Polluter pays principle yes, something which I have studied in depth and have the degree to prove it, but the user pays principle takes things to another level which could have significant consequences if adopted across the States and which I will cover off in the main debate.
So, whilst I will support the Minority over the Main report now, I have to say I will not be able to support all aspects of the report as it stands.
Frankly I think both strategies are a sledgehammer to crack a nut and if ever the phrase ‘keep it simple’ was appropriate it is in relation to a transport strategy for Guernsey.
I laid a successful amendment to the transport strategy effectively exempting commercial vehicles from the width tax and capping the charge for commercial vehicles to £2,000. My speech is below.
Sir, my amendment is purely focused on just one aspect which was common to both strategies and that is the First Registration Duty.
Before I begin, I thought it would be useful for members to know that I have a business which runs an Aixam Megavan – Mega by name but not exactly nature a rather quirky it has to be admitted, delivery van, but we have no intention of replacing it in the foreseeable future.
As I stated in the earlier debate on the minority report, I do believe that structurally, the main report bandings and charges will have little effect on decision making behaviour. The minority report structure has/had more teeth.
However, where both failed as far as I’m concerned, is in relation to the effect it will have on the commercial sector.
Yes we have big vans on this Island and yes they can be annoying when you are going down a narrow lane. BUT, businesses don’t buy vans to make a statement. It’s not like buying a Chelsea tractor that never sees a speck of mud. These are working vehicles that have a purpose. A skip lorry carries a skip and has to be a certain size , a fuel lorry carries fuel and a cesspit lorry carries, well I don’t think I need to say any more.
The size of the vehicle is not a lifestyle decision and in the current economic climate a business is going to go for the smallest and cheapest vehicle it can get away with.
To discriminate against businesses because of the vehicle they HAVE to use is completely illogical.
No change is proposed to CO2 emissions. As I stated earlier, I believe it is absolutely right that a charge should be placed on vehicles in that respect as it is possible for businesses to make a choice and I would want to encourage businesses to buy new fuel efficient vans and lorries rather than older vehicles that are a greater cause of pollution.
This amendment will have little effect on the smallest vans – the Fiat Fiorina or Transit Courier which would fall under the width element anyway.
However, this will significantly cut the charges for Doblo £50, Scudo £1,750 and Ducato £2,250.
However, this will cut the charges for a Doblo by £400, Scudo £800 and Ducato by £400.
I think it should be pretty straightforward to ensure vehicles are being used for commercial purposes, with minimal work, especially if we consider this in the context of a whole new tax system. No extra forms will be required, with the information necessary obtainable from the V55 form and the vehicle registration form amended to state that the vehcile is for business purposes, together with the company name and tax no. The form will need to be amended anyway to include the CO2 emissions. In order to ensure width duty is paid should the vehicle cease to be used for business purpose, this can be picked up through updating the vehicle transfer form.
Better still, it is clear to me from looking at the information currently online that this whole process cries out for modernisation. It is daft that you can download a form from the internet but then have to travel to Bulwer Avenue, by whatever means of transport, to register your vehicle. If eGovernment means anything it should be at the heart of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing process.
I do feel like I stand here on a regular basis questioning new policy initiatives that will hit business. So I am again here today. But I will continue doing so if it means I can prevent more unnecessary red tape, more businesses going bust and resultant job losses as it is the whole community that suffers in the end.
This amendment won’t eradicate increased costs completely, but will enable businesses to make a decision in terms of CO2 emissions, which I believe is fair and reasonable in the context of the strategy as a whole.
I therefore urge all members to support this amendment.
I spoke on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee on the proposed transport strategy in April 2014. In effect, the point was made that no assurance could be given as to the figures in either the majority or the minority report.
Sir, A key aspect of both reports is to influence behaviour such that the motor vehicle is not the default choice of transportation. They propose various means of doing so, some aspects similar some different to achieve it. However, how can we be sure either strategy represent value for money?
The Committee would consider that, unless there are targets, what each strategy wants to achieve, it is very difficult to do so.
For instance, both aim to increase bus usage and a principle means of doing this is through free bus fares. However, nowhere does either state what would be a minimum target to determine success?
At the core of the minority report is the implementation of paid parking. However, there are no targets in terms of car park occupancy, though 80% is mentioned as an aim with dynamic pricing at some future point.
Nor do either reports cover targets in terms of reduced cars on the road, increased cycling and alternative modes of transport. Although assumptions are made for the purposes of coming up with figures. Eg Main report 15.4 it states that the Department has allowed for a 10% pa swing away from larger more polluting vehicles and has allowed for a 1% pa reduction in fuel use in favour of walking, cycling and bus use. 10% swing to cleaner vehicles and 10% to narrower vehicles. Para 164 of the minority report mentions the need for a worthwhile modal shift, but this is not quantified.
The problem of not having targets is not being able to judge whether money raised is being well spent. If we reduce cars on the road by 1-2% is that enough – would that really make a difference in terms of what the strategies are trying achieve? It won’t make much difference to the current situation so is it worth £1.6-£2m a year?
And this leads to a further concern. There a wide range of assumptions being made, that do not appear to have any justification other than being considered by the authors as ‘reasonable’ in their minds. These include reduction in fuel use, car use and infrastructure improvements.
In terms of fuel duty rises, various academic papers have shown a correlation between increases in fuel prices and car usage, which supports the Policy Research Unit’s report. However, the situation is not so black and white. A study undertaken last year showed that whilst usage went down, car users were not willing to reduce journeys for sending or taking family members and shopping. We would also question the calculations of potential fuel income being based on annual mileage of 10,000 miles and would question how this estimate was arrived at.
[Reduction of Private Vehicle Usage in Response to Fuel Price Rise: A Comparison between Automobile Drivers and Motorcycle Riders]
In addition, as made clear by Deputy Burford, we would agree that it is not possible to ignore the effect of the 2008 crash on fuel usage. It is also not helpful not having diesel included in the analysis.
Generally we do have concerns regarding the robustness of the figures on page 617 and 620 of the main report covering income and expenditure respectively. In particular, the heavy emphasis on education and communication is not borne out by the costings of £!00k in the first year and £50k thereafter.
We would also question how the 3 additional 2nd hand buses correlate with additional bus routes and frequency of £300k a year. It cost, according to CT Plus’s accounts, £3.6m to run the bus service in the year to 31 March 2013. Much of these will be fixed costs and it is therefore hard to understand that this would result in an extra £300k plus £200-£300 to place it on what is called a firm footing and an extra £200k pa for targeted routes.
Generally, the Minority report is more detailed and it would appear that quite a lot of work has gone into the estimates being made. However, we would question why capital items are mixed together in annual expenditure for instance costs of buses and bus shelters whilst the bus depot has been considered as an amortised expense separately. It would be preferable if these figures could have been analysed separately.
So, in summary, the Public Accounts Committee has concerns about the financial aspects of both strategies in terms of what they are setting out to achieve and the assumptions being made. It is our belief that no assurance can be given as to the robustness of both sets of figures at this stage.
Sir, a few months ago my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. In the last few weeks, because of paid parking, I have seriously wondered whether we would make it to 26. It has certainly become undoubtedly clear to me, if I did not know it before, that many people have strong views on this issue.
As I stated a couple of weeks ago, I have always had an open mind about the merits, or otherwise, of paid parking. I have no particular idealistic or philosophical view on it. I spent the last couple of months listening to the arguments on both sides. I have researched the matter and read various academic papers on the subject. Research papers tend to support it, citing it as a means to combat wasted time, money, congestion and pollution – basically saying we are actually paying a high price for so called free parking.
I get that. But I also get that is means that some people will be affected – those that have to park, who have no private space or other alternatives. I also know that there are no guarantees that implementing it in some areas will not cause problems elsewhere.
But Deputy Kuttelwascher says, „We already have a transport strategy so I do not need to vote for it.
That is okay then.‟ Well, yes, there is the remnants of a transport strategy that goes back to 2006 – astrategy that would bring in travel plans for Sir Charles Frossard House and the PEH, a Strategy that would take account of cycling needs for new developments.
So eight years later where are we? Well, the parking problems at Sir Charles Frossard House indicate that there is no successful travel plan. We have a car park at the PEH that has probably doubled in size since 2006 and the last time I looked there was no cycle path anywhere near.
At the time it was written, the bus service was so popular according to the 2006 report that people were being turned away from the bus stops because they were so full. Average occupancy was 18. Now it is less than nine. Well, that has worked out well then. (Interjections)
This was a strategy that was committed to compulsory emissions and noise testing. Where is that? A strategy that proposed paid parking, approved, then thrown out and here we are today. A strategy more disintegrated than integrated.
So we come on to the question, do we really need one? Isn‟t everything fine apart from some rush hour traffic? Well, Deputy Burford got me thinking when she talked two weeks ago about going on the bus with herson. She made me think about how my children get around now and how I travelled around before I came to Guernsey. My mum never drove and when I was a young child we went everywhere by foot and bus. I went to school by bus, I went to town by bus and I went to my friends‟ houses by bus. Why? Well, it was cheap. It was not free, but it was cheap. But the real reason was the service was brilliant. And in the summer there were additional scheduled open top buses, named after the famous Devonians such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, that were incredibly popular and a real draw for the tourist. So I grew up used to a great bus service, but never really thought about it. I then lived in London and got around by bus most of time for those six years that I was there.
Then I came to Guernsey and for the first time in my life I realised I needed a car, which actually meant I needed to learn to drive. I just had not had to before. I did try using public transport for the first year, but the last bus I could get was at 5.30 p.m. at night. Great if you are someone who works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but not if deadlines have to be met and overtime is required and expected.
Cycling was out of the question as there was nowhere to put a bike and nowhere to change at the office, and frankly back then I did not have the confidence to cycle amongst the traffic. So that was another driver on Guernsey roads because there was no viable alternative. And things have not got better in the last 20 odd years.
I spoke about two weeks ago about how I was concerned that paid parking would make us more like Little England. Well, I have now come to the conclusion – having seen road rage, selfish and intolerant driving and having had a journey that took half an hour to travel a couple of miles in the last two weeks – that our roads are like that already. So, no, we do not have an integrated transport strategy and, yes, I want one.
I want an integrated transport strategy because my daughter should be able to get a bus or walk the two miles to college without endangering her life every time she has to cross a main arterial road on a blind corner because the pavement just disappears. I want an integrated transport strategy because there is something wrong somewhere when my son cannot get a bus in the morning to the grammar school, but he can get one on the way back.
I want an integrated transport strategy for the sake of our visitor economy because I want Guernsey to be a place that tourists want to come to, even come back to, and not comment on how busy the roads are. I want an integrated transport strategy as I do not want Guernsey to continue to have unacceptable pollution levels because of vehicle congestion. I want an integrated transport strategy as I do not want to see the Health Services bill continue to grow to pay for the literally growing obesity problem on this Island.
I want an integrated transport strategy as I am fed up being made to feel that, as a cyclist, I do notbelong on the road. When I am not the one creating the potholes, but have to endanger my life swerving into the middle of the road to avoid them and have to pay for PSD to fill them in from the taxes I pay.
I want an integrated transport strategy as without one we are sending all the wrong messages to thepeople of Guernsey now and in the future. We say we really do not care about all the implications of continuing as we are. A properly funded integrated transport strategy has been long overdue.
So whilst I am no fan of paid parking and really and truly struggle accepting it, for me, the need for an integrated transport strategy is indisputable and paid parking is the least worst option to pay for it. I question the comments I have heard here about needing to be brave and courageous. For me, bravery is when someone risks their live to rescue someone else from a burning building, and any way being brave does not necessarily mean being right. Anyone who knows anything about the Charge of the Light Brigade could tell you that.
For me, it is about getting something done. Doing nothing is not an option and, on that basis, I will support Proposition 5 and I would urge all other Members to do likewise.