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Public wants independent check on road charging

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GOVERNMENT PLANS to introduce road user charging will only win public trust if an independent inspector is appointed to oversee the scheme, motoring body the RAC Foundation warned this week.

Only 10% of 500 motorists polled by the RAC Foundation said they would trust the government to operate a fair road user charging system without an independent watchdog, said Foundation chairman David Holmes.

But with an inspector in place, 60% of motorists would trust revenues to be balanced by spending on increasing road capacity or improving public transport.

Three quarters of those polled supported road user charging in principle.

'[Charging] provides an effective way of making the best use of scarce road capacity - far more efficient than the present crude instrument of fuel duty or parking charges, ' said Holmes, speaking at an Institute of Public Policy Research conference on Tuesday.

But motorists need 'clarity and agreement about what would happen to the proceeds of perhaps £8bn a year', he added.

Road pricing would affect about 30M motorists. Those in rural areas, where there is little peak time congestion, would expect to pay less to use their cars than at present, he said.

But motorists in urban areas who drive at peak times would pay more. 'In many cases quite a lot more, ' he added.

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