The drive in to work will become far more taxing

HR Hartley – our irascible insider on… being driven to distraction

A story that scared the bejesus out me hit the national headlines a couple
of weeks ago: car tax and petrol duty could be phased out within 15 years, but
drivers will have to pay for every mile they travel.

It is proposed that two taxes will be replaced with a new system of road
tolls using satellite tracking of every vehicle on the road and motorists will
apparently pay between 1p and £1.34 a mile, depending on how much congestion
there is on the road they’re on. Transport minister Alistair Darling proudly
announced nationwide tolls could cut congestion by half.

Now I am all for radical moves to bring some respite to the roads and aid
survival of the planet. But this one would force me to give up my current job
(that’s if I haven’t been hoofed out by then, of course). I have a 120-mile
daily round commute.

I choose to do it by car because (a) the train takes two-and-half-hours each
way as opposed to just over an hour by road, (b) it works out about £1,500 a
year cheaper than by rail, and (c) I get to sit down, instead of having to
balance on foot because the other couldn’t fit into an overcrowded carriage.

Naturally, I would change my mind overnight about taking the train if our
creaking rail system was brought up to scratch. I would also choose to work
locally if the towns and cities near to my home offered good employment
opportunities and decent salaries.

Like many workers, family commitments bind me to living where I do. Yet in
the overcrowded South East, it seems that only London
can offer me real career opportunities and the right wage to support my
family’s living costs.

If the Government goes ahead with these plans I’ll be up the Thames
without a paddle. So will a lot of other workers. Prepare for a problem, HR.

Hartley is an HR director at large

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