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The question: Congestion charging

London's congestion charging scheme is one year old on Saturday. Without question it has cut traffic, but questions remain over revenue. So we ask: what next for congestion charging in the UK?

All these new schemes cost money to implement and can be unpopular and unreliable. We should scrap road tax and increase duty on fuel.

This will give money back to the less wealthy road users who drive fewer miles, and will eliminate evasion. It also means the more you drive, the more you pay. This should help to control unnecessary journeys which add to congestion.

Overseas users will have to pay more too. There will be no additional administration charges, as the system for duty collection already exists. About 10p per litre should be fair and this would represent no significant additional cost to the 10,000 mile/year user.

Money generated due to the elimination of road tax evasion and collection administration costs should be used to improve public transport. But has the government got the bottle to introduce such a scheme? I doubt it.

Phil Howden, 41, partner, Lancaster

We need to take the KISS approach (keep it simple, stupid). For congestion I suggest a simple tax levy on fuel rather than other technology that will only go wrong.

Steve Whipp, 50, water engineer, Warrington

Congestion charging is a complete con, perpetrated upon gullible bureaucrats by those who profit from supplying equipment or administering the schemes, and egged on by the lawyers who will profit from the inevitable appeals.

It is nothing but an unproductive overhead, or tax, which impacts little on the rich but bears heavily on the less well off for whom car ownership is a life transforming uplift. Putting motoring back to a perk of the rich will be putting the clock back half a century. What we need is unselective control of the car - first by banning cars from city centres (after providing proper park and ride facilities) and then by banning all on-street parking (after requiring all owners to register an off-street parking place before issuing the annual licence).

Anthony Taylor, 60, consultant, St Albans

More proposals to use chancellor Gordon Brown's favourite social engineering tool: indirect taxation?

It can only be a matter of time before the government realises just how effective (and profitable) it could be if applied to the NHS waiting lists 'challenge'. However, would it not be so much better if more time and money was focused on prevention rather than cure.

Then we would not need to develop costly treatments to help ease the pain of those who can afford it.

Iain McAlister, 44, chief engineer, Glasgow

A national charging scheme is already firmly set in place. We have a system of SPECS cameras that can track a vehicle from Dover to Glasgow, and it has enormous tracking capacity. So why should it not be extended to have a charge attached to each mile that the system 'sees' you using the road?

But this would only be acceptable with a reduction or elimination of road and petrol tax. Of course there is another way to cut congestion - having a much better fully integrated public transport system. In Stuttgart I find that there is no need to run a car. For £20 a month I can travel anywhere I want, and you can almost set your clock by the buses.

John Brownlie, 55, project director, Stuttgart, Germany

For the experts' view on the future of congestion charging, see feature page 14

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