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.