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Transport Hustings: Candidates clash over Mini Holland, air pollution, parking and road safety

Crowds packed into a community hall on Thursday night to listen to six local election candidates go head to head on key transport issues in Waltham Forest. Organised by campaign group Waltham Forest Streets For All, the Transport Hustings at Ghousia Hall in Grove Road, Walthamstow was supported by residents from all corners of the borough. The night focused on five topics – air pollution, road safety, public transport, parking and consultation & conflict.

The six candidates on the panel were Cllr John Moss (Conservatives), Rosemary Warrington (Green), James O’Rourke (Independent), Cllr Clyde Loakes (Labour), Arran Angus (Liberal Democrats) and Nancy Taaffe (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition). Mr O’Rourke, who is standing for election in High Street ward, is calling for a scheme which allows owners of older cars to trade them for scrappage and a newer model. He says Copenhagen crossings are “unsafe” for many disabled and vulnerable residents, adding: “Roads across Walthamstow are becoming no go zones, particularly for blind and partially sighted people.”

He said Mini Holland has become a “byword for polarising our community”. He said: “To constructively challenge elements of the scheme equates to being anti- Mini Holland. “Elements such as unnecessary road closures which has simply moved the problem elsewhere, removal of kerbs and no tactile paving for our disabled residents and removal of bus lanes which has inevitably affected timetables.”

Mr Moss, who is standing for re-election in Larkswood ward, is calling for the introduction of a shuttle link from Lea Bridge station in Leyton to Chingford, Highams Park and Walthamstow to allow residents in the north of the borough to connect with the overground route. He said bus timetables should be integrated with tube and train services so the number of people waiting at bus stops is reduced and travel times are shortened. And he wants 30 minutes free parking in high streets to support businesses and he opposes the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in Chingford.

He said: “With an income of GBP32m from parking fees and fines over the last four years and a doubling of the council’s budget for highways since 2010, the state of our roads and pavements is inexcusable.” The Liberal Democrats’ candidate for Grove Green ward, Mr Angus says while he agrees with the principle of Mini Holland, discussions with residents have shown that the council’s consultation on it was “very poor”. He said he would “listen properly to residents’ concerns and discuss solutions on a case-by-case basis.”

He added: “The Liberal Democrats are a strongly pro-environmental party and believe in encouraging the use of public transport in Waltham Forest. “It was the Liberal Democrats who first suggested the idea of a one-hour ‘hopper’ bus ticket to encourage more journeys to be made by buses. “It is important to support this by protecting bus services such as the W12 route to Whipps Cross Hospital, currently being reduced in frequency by the Labour mayor, and putting pressure on TfL to improve the service on the Central Line, in particular making sure that the trains run to schedule and making more stations step-free access.”

Ms Taaffe, who is standing in the High Street ward, said although she agrees with schemes to encourage walking and cycling, Mini Holland has been implemented in an “arrogant way” and is part of the council’s “social cleansing and gentrification”. A spokesman for TUSC said: “Our candidate Nancy Taaffe pointed out that it doesn’t work to have these policies imposed on one small area against the backdrop of a broken and privatised transport system everywhere. “Cars have been pushed onto the main roads and into poorer areas.

The chaos of Mini Holland should be halted and meaningful, genuine, widely publicised and open consultation should be initiated, including referendums.”

He added that TUSC is calling for politicians to cut the working week “so that everybody can just slow down.”

We are awaiting statements from Cllr Clyde Loakes and Rosemary Warrington.

Transport GoM calls for uniform road tax

The GoM has also recommended one national bus and taxi permit on the lines of permits for goods transporters.

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: A group of ministers (GoM) on transport constituted by the roads ministry has recommended a uniform road tax structure for vehicles across states. At its meeting in Guwahati on Thursday, the GoM headed by Rajasthan transport minister Yunus Khan said the move will end the practice of people registering their vehicles in low-tax states and using them in other states. The move will also bring relief to consumers moving across states.

The GoM has also recommended one national bus and taxi permit on the lines of permits for goods transporters. “Public transport in the country is growing annually at a rate of just about 2%, as against a 20% annual growth in private transport. Therefore, a national permit will give the much-needed fillip to public transport and help reduce road congestion,” the committee observed. The group was constituted to find a solution to the various problems plaguing the road sector in the country.

It was also asked to suggest ways to improve road safety and facilitate ease of transport. Thursday’s session, inaugurated by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, was focused on “One Nation, One Tax” and “One Nation, One Permit” proposals. The GoM also proposed to liberalize the permit system for electric vehicles to promote alternative fuels.

It suggested raising the tax on diesel vehicles by 2% while lowering the tax on electric vehicles. In December, a 24-member select committee of the Rajya Sabha had also suggested an “open road policy” like the “open sky policy” where all bus permits would be made national permits. “It was submitted before the committee that if a bus has to ply in five southern states, then it has to pay permit fees of Rs42 lakh every year…The ministry of road transport and highways informed the committee that if the states agree to One Nation, One Permit, One Tax then the revenues of the states will increase.

This will also reduce the chances of one operator taking a few permits and running a large number of buses,” the panel said in its report submitted to the Rajya Sabha.

The parliamentary committee in its report had said that it appreciates the idea of ‘One Nation, One Permit, One Tax’ especially if it increases the revenue of the states and had called upon the central and state governments to work out the modalities for implementing it.

First Published: Thu, Apr 19 2018.

10 27 PM IST

Ministers seek uniform road tax for vehicles across country

Uniform road tax structure and national permits for buses & taxis have been recommended by a group of ministers.

India should have a uniform road tax structure for vehicles across states, a group of ministers (GoM) has proposed. The GoM is constituted by the Union road transport and highways ministry. In a meeting in Guwahati, the GoM observed that a uniform tax structure will put a check on people registering their vehicles in low tax states and running them in other states.

This would also bring necessary relief to genuine cases requiring transfer of vehicles. The GoM seeks to find solutions to the various problems plaguing the road transport sector in the country so as to improve road safety and facilitate ease of transport. It has also recommended a national bus and taxi permit on lines of such permit for goods transport.

Public transport in the country is growing annually at a rate of just about 2 per cent, as against a 20 per cent annual growth in private transport.

A national permit will give the much needed fillip to public transport and help reduce road congestion and its attendant problems.

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In order to promote alternate fuel for vehicles, the GoM has also proposed liberalisation of permit system for electric vehicles.

In addition, it has recommended raising the tax on diesel vehicles by 2 per cent while lowering the tax on electric vehicles.

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