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.