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Cars and transport news - How will you vote today? - 2010

So the leaders debated. But they didn’t
debate the subject so clear to our hearts and minds. Cars and transport didn’t
get a look-in.

So TopGear turns to the parties’ manifestos
- Labour, Tories, Liberal Democrats, Green, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the SNP - and
finds itself grateful for the search facility in a PDF. The Conservatives, for
example, field a densely printed 131-pager, and yet roads and cars get just
three paragraphs. The other parties afford us drivers similarly short shrift.

Hero of the hour is the electric car. All
parties want it to proliferate. Sticking their necks out, the Lib Dems want all
new cars to be zero-emission by 2040, and all UK power generation to be
renewable by 2050. Even UKIP wants electric cars, despite its avowedly scepticism
on man-made climate change - it thinks the electricity should come from British
 coal.

But no one says how much money they will
use to bribe us into EVs. Labour is specific about recharging though - 10,000
points by the end of the next Parliament. (It doesn’t say who’ll install them
or who’ll pay.)

All parties promise to get new high-speed
railways
built. This could be a good thing for us if it gets other people off
the roads. The Lib Dems and the Greens say they’ll pay for rail improvements by
cutting the roads budget. Plaid Cymru, by contrast, promises new roads
north-south in Wales

The Conservatives and UKIP both want to
stabilise petrol and diesel prices by reducing tax when the oil price goes up.
The Lib Dems would reduce the fuel duty in rural areas.

The Lib Dems plan for road pricing in a
second Parliament, while Labour promises not to introduce it in this
parliament, which could amount to the same thing. The Lib Dems promise their
scheme would not add to the overall bill paid by drivers as a whole, because
road tax would be abolished and fuel duty cut.

The Greens, by contrast, would definitely
make driving more expensive. They’d raise fuel duty by eight per cent a year,
abolish road tax, but put a hefty but unspecified purchase tax on new cars ‘that
reflects their emissions’.

The Lib Dems would regulate the parking
system ‘to remove unfairness’ and stop private sector wheel-clamping. The
Tories, too, promise a crackdown on ‘rogue clampers’.

Greens would cut the motorway limit to
55mph, open single-carriageways to 40 and the most town limits to 20.

The Tories would stop central government
funding for new fixed-speed cameras, and ‘switch to more effective ways to make
our roads safer’, including authorising ‘drugalysers’. Finally, they would make
anyone digging up the roadways accountable for the congestion it causes.

Labour’s solution for congestion is to
increase tenfold the penalties paid by utilities whose roadworks over-run, plus
more widening of sections of motorway including the M25, and more hard-shoulder
running in peak hours.

Everyone seems to agree lorries should pay
more tolls and taxes, and that there should be fewer of them because we ought
to eat more local food. No one is specific about how they’d manage this latter
 aim.

And everyone seems to love buses, so we’ll
be steering round more of them. And cyclists. Oh yes. All the parties love
cyclists. There’s some good solid political consensus for you.

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of TopGear magazine

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