Sunday, June 08, 2008

Road Greening: Why Repeat This £5 an Hour a Day Lie?






David Ottewell again previews the Greening of Manchester Traffic, as ever in the prism of the emotive and partisan "Congestion Charging" instead of Greening, or Peak Smoothing, or Jam Avoidance, or Oiling the Wheels of Commerce, or whatever. It is about Transport Improvement NOT about Congestion. All being well that dirty old C word could be a thing of the past.

At least he's managed to avoid the freudian £5 AN HOUR which he sometimes drops into his blog, until surreptitiously corrected, to £5 A DAY here.

But why not mention that this or ANY CHARGE WHATSOEVER should be completely avoidable by travelling outside peak hours, by using massively improved passenger transport, by car sharing, by using greener cars, by cycling or by walking?

Even the "up to £5 a day" line doesn't really wash. How about "from as little as completely free AND green" instead?

The general idea is of spreading the traffic about a bit in time, allowing traffic to flow better, making cyclists and pedestrians more welcome, with much improved passenger transport also getting clearer roads at peak times?

This kind of detail always seems to be missing from the coverage. And it is this kind of detail and indeed naming of the scheme in a way that will win hearts and minds over.

The commercial thuggery that eliminated Cllr Roger Jones as an elected member and therefore as head of the Passenger Transport Authority has still not had proper exposure and analysis.

But this is ruthless swift boating from car freaks and excess profit seekers. Simply trying to extend the age of the rampant 4 x 4 for as long as possible rather than changing their own business model to privelege passenger transport and free delivery rather than acres of "free" car parks, miles of tail backs, and buyers collecting everything in every larger vehicles.

Interesting indeed that Advertising Rulings on this matter dealt with in detail by Mr Ottewell here found that this persistent use of the "£5 a day" NONSENSE was the one of three complaints to be upheld. The others must have been damned close. But these £5 a day lies were the images splashed over most of Peel Holdings' hoardings anyway.

So how is it that the same respected regional journalist continues to use this construct without enough qualification in near daily coverage of this welcome greening and commercial improvement measure? If it is not OK for advertisers how can it possibly be OK for a regional newspaper and a responsible journalist?

IMAGES: The top two posters were passed as OK (just), the other two as unacceptable. Pictures are Ottewell's as just for now I'm not near my own picture file (which has much better ones, natch).

15 comments:

David Ottewell said...

Chris,

I believe you may have gone stark raving mad.

Can you point to some links where I have mentioned the charge but not the public transport improvements? Or where I have suggested, without qualification, everyone will pay £5 a day?

These are pretty serious allegations to level against me with no evidence.

My preferred formulation is "a peak-hour congestion charge of up to £5 a day at current prices".

That is entirely accurate.

To not mention the charge at all - and simply concentrate on the transport improvements - is as partisan as mentioning the charge (but not the improvements).

The charge will, after all, pay for most of the improvements over the next 30 years.

Lobby to have income tax renamed "social smoothing", too, if you want. It will still come out of your pay packet. It will still be, to most normal people, a tax. And the question, as with all taxes, is this: is it a price worth paying?

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure I've seen "£5 an hour" on your blog Dave, all but briefly, and you never corrected the mistake that 60 doctors signed a Christie petition when there's no evidence any of them did so at all.

Iain Lindley said...

For the record Chris, Roger Jones would probably have lost his seat anyway, even if he was an obscure backbencher and the congestion charging was not an issue.

The Toll Tax exacerbated his defeat, but it did not cause it.

Chris Paul said...

I've added the word "enough" before qualification, but as for your points:

> I believe you may have gone stark raving mad.

You think?

> Can you point to some links where
> I have mentioned the charge but
> not the public transport
> improvements? Or where I have
> suggested, without qualification,
> everyone will pay £5 a day?

No, I'm not going to look, though there will be some on the blog I think, but I've not said you have.

Though I think the charge that you said £5 an hour at least once on the blog is true. Albeit corrected.

> These are pretty serious
> allegations to level against me
> with no evidence.

I've not levelled that charge against you. But I think that there has been insufficient coverage at each and every stage of MEN coverage (mostly by you) of the fact that it's all free UNLESS you travel during some initially fairly small peak hours bands.

And I think that when people read "up to £5 a day" what they remember is "£5 a day" and I have had this repeated back at me by citizens including those working on bridge works related somethingly to the Metro that it is "£5 a day" or even "£5 an hour" or worse. I've also heard £8 a day but not sure where that comes from.

> My preferred formulation is "a
> peak-hour congestion charge of up
> to £5 a day at current prices".
>
> That is entirely accurate.

Don't think you've actually used that in that form all that much but it's not entirely accurate anyway. There is not a charge of up to £5 a day. There is a charge of nothing most of the time. No charge at all. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

> To not mention the charge at all
> - and simply concentrate on the
> transport improvements - is as
> partisan as mentioning the charge > (but not the improvements).

That's silly. Have you gone stark raving mad? I'm not asking you to ignore the charge. I'm asking that you mention that there is no charge 20 hours per day or whatever it is.

> The charge will, after all, pay
> for most of the improvements over > the next 30 years.

Indeed it will. Or at least about half of the capital cost with the rest met by central government at the outset. There you go again!

> Lobby to have income tax renamed
> "social smoothing", too, if you
> want. It will still come out of
> your pay packet. It will still
> be, to most normal people, a tax.

The suggestion on income tax is absurd. This however is a non-tax UNLESS you travel at peak times. And it is an ANTI-congestion charge isn't it? Income tax is not like that ... unless you're an evader or avoider. I've no interest in calling Income Tax anything else ... though perhaps others will take your suggestion and run with it!

> And the question, as with all
> taxes, is this: is it a price
> worth paying?

The price is zero if you don't travel in the few hours where the charge is levied. I simply do not think that is clear enough in any of the coverage.

Many people think that everyone does have to pay. The
qualifications being used in your paper have not been sufficient to shift that impression.

That's the point.

Incidentally Peel Holdings and their predecessor Manchester SCC have the distinction of owning transport assets and charging people to use them as their business model for several of their interests.

The Ship Canal itself. Bridges over it. Their airports. But when someone else - the people, the government, whatever - owns an asset and wants to charge to use it on only a tiny proportion of the time to ease the traffic and improve passenger transport they're again it. Selfish hypocrites.

Chris Paul said...

Iain Lindley: I don't think the trend showed that actually.

The Swift Boating by MART/Peel was what did it. He'd have expected to get home by 100 or so without that issue I'd have thought. The city wide swing against Labour would have been shared two ways at least and he would have made it I think.

But we'll never know will we? Because MART and Peel DID give him a good kicking and that's that.

A great shame as he was a very good representative and a useful contributor to the city's politics and the wider public service in the county and beyond.

And of course whoever is made Chair of the PTA we can expect them to have the same position on the PTA's plans. And whoever is councillor for Irlam and Cadishead may well be a one trick pony and certainly won't have much leverage to get things done.

David Ottewell said...

Ah, so you are not going to even check whether the evidence actually matches your allegations or not.

Some would say this is the difference between bloggers and journalists... It strikes me as a rather important one.

Incidentally the relevant ASA ruling regarding the MART adds was:

"We concluded that £5 was the current maximum daily charge proposed under the scheme and although it could also be the average charge in practice, and could also be subject to price increases, it was not possible to determine this yet, because there were no supporting statistics. Because ads (c) and (d) did not make clear that £5 a day was the current maximum proposed charge under the scheme we concluded that the ads could mislead."

I'm pretty sure if you bothered to check my cuttings, Chris, you'll find I always mention that the £5 (at current prices) is the maximum. So I'm certainly not doing anything the ASA has criticised. So you are still being (at best) disingenuous.

Anyway, that's enough of me doing your research for you.

Oh, and "Anonymous"... I'm sorry if £5 an hour crept into the blog. I don't recall it, and I rarely correct the blog unless it is for spelling or grammar. I always highlight or mention significant changes of content.

I think it did creep into a story which is still on the website (not the blog). Perhaps that is what you are talking about. Strange you should make the same mistake as Chris. I always thought his mistakes were unique...

Chris Paul said...

It doesn't matter about the evidence David because I did not say what you claimed I said! Simple. That's why I'm not bothering to check.

The point is that when you say "up to £5 a day" or words to that effect people out in the real world only remember £5 a day or worse.

The point that it is conceivably free is simply not getting across.

Incidentally I'd expect the blog to be changed - with annotation - but I'd not expect the paper's website to be changed except perhaps between editions.

Anonymous 16:47 is correct that it was not changed in the case of the ridiculous assertion that you'd proved that 60 doctors did sign a "petition".

Incidentally it is me following the anonymous error - if it is an error - not vice versa and you need to be more careful with your timelines if you're going to start getting forensic on anonymous comments!

Chris Paul said...

Apologies David. It's me following anon comment following me so your timeline is correct.

You'll probably know better than me - I think i corrected the £5 an hour slip at one place or the other if not both in a comment. Which was it?

Barnacle Bill said...

Look lets be honest about this, the need to do something about congestion has been brought about by the underfunding of our transport infrastructure.
Be it buses, trains, trams, or dare I suggest it - more roads!
Central government has been quite happy to take the taxes from motorists.
Encourage more car ownership by lax credit rules.
But when it has come to actually re-investing a PROPER proportion of those taxes back into the transport system suddenly its as if they are having to fund this out of their own pockets.
But not too worry they have now come up with a great wheeze, we'll use climate change as a cover for more taxes to cover our previous greed.
Only this time we'll let local government trial road pricing and take the flak.
Oh and if you are driving on a road that is more than ten years old they will probably charge you double!

Sean Corker said...

I'm new to your Blog Chris - Keep up the good work! I can use your blog as an example of why we need to oppose the congestion charge and expose it for what it really is

Your utterly wrong but your writing is compelling

Sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - you said to Chris: "Your utterly wrong but your writing is compelling"

Surely you mean "You're utterly wrong and you're repellant"?

Anyone who has forced themselves to read Chris's gobbledegook will tell you this. Don't get hooked - you'll be wasting your life.

Sean Corker said...

Oh and Chris - The actual result from the ASA (well the one they sent me), was that the 2 of the complaints were dismissed and the 3rd would have been dismissed if I had put 'up to' £5 on the poster.

But what do I know ? I only dealt with the SINGLE complaint that caused the issue and allowed MART to get the posters in the media for a second time.

But lets not let the facts get in the way of a good smear campaign.

Chris Paul said...

I followed Mr Ottewell's report on the posters, as linked Sean. But yes, you'd have got away with "up to £5 a day" as that was true, even if tending to lead everyone to believe the worst.

Sean Corker said...

And what about your comment that the other two 'must have been close'?

I can assure you they weren't because that what the initial recommendation sent to the council.

I appreciate that a blog is meant to represent personal opinion but as some on who was involved in the whole process then I am sure you won't mind me putting right your misconceptions?

Chris Paul said...

There is no reason that posters suggesting that everyone would be tagged and trailed around ought to be acceptable. That's not what will happen - as you well know. And the second poster is of BNP standard.