Labour and Lib Dem councillors approved a consultation on council plans to charge motorists entering large parts of the city or crossing the Swing, Tyne or Redheugh Bridges.
What we think...
Many residents complain that council road changes have created the very pollution they seek to end. In addition, residents point to the decision to build large scale housing developments on the greenbelt and cutting down more than 8000 trees as contributing to pollution in the city.
Clean air is really important for the health of the whole community, especially children. However, we are not convinced that piling charges onto people coming to the city or driving the oldest cars (ie the people without the resources to buy an electric or hybrid car) will solve the problem and they will simply expand the inequalities that already exist.
Since the council had plans for a congestion charge in 2008, is this about saving lives or generating millions for the council(s)? We have concluded that it is the latter.
So what is proposed?
Option 1 - A tax on people who can’t afford newer cars
One option is for a Clean Air Zone, which will be imposed on people driving older vehicles. A Clean Air Zone could see a charge of £12.50 per day for older cars, vans and taxis entering a zone stretching from Gateshead to Gosforth. Buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles would be charged £50 per day.
We believe this tax on lower income residents is totally unacceptable.
Option 2 - A tax for all, more traffic in the West
The second option is for a Low Emission Zone which would be imposed on most cars, vans and lorries crossing the river. This Low Emission Zone would see a charge of around £1.70 every time such a vehicle crosses one of the bridges over the Tyne.
We believe this would result in significant volumes of traffic being redirected to the A1, which already suffers from poor air quality in places.
Our alternative proposals
For too long, the council have seen motorists as cash cows with parking charges and cameras in bus lanes that seem designed to make money for the council or create congestion.
We have campaigned over many years to get the Metro to the Outer West, for park and ride facilities and lower bus fares. We must make public transport more accessible and more affordable for all.
We need to review all bus lanes across the city to make sure those that are creating congestion are removed.
We believe we should not be building new houses on the outskirts of the city without a Metro connection.
Please tell the council what you think
Make sure your voice is heard by reading more details on the council website and respond to the consultation.
You may also wish to tell us what you think.
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