Thursday, 15 January 2009

"Labour still frozen in car headlights"

Coincidentally, after reading Peter Rayner's article under that headline in December's railwatch magazine, I saw the Neath Guardian report of community councillor Mike Richards' view that Neath town centre would be reinvigorated if all private car parking were made free of charge and pedestrianisation abandoned. This goes against logic and experience. Shopping in the pedestrianised areas of Neath and Port Talbot is a pleasure compared with Swansea, where not only does one have to waste much time crossing roads, but one is not often certain which direction the traffic is coming from. The major pain in getting into Neath is the traffic, in particular causing jams in Windsor Road. A reduction in the number of car journeys would ease this.

Labour has to recognise that the days of cheap car use are over. The price of fuel is depressed at present because of the world-wide recession. However, one does not have to believe with Baroness Vadera that the green shoots of revival are already here, to know that there will be a recovery, when the price of fossil fuels can be expected to rise again.

By the way, Rayner was prescient. In a piece which must have been written last November, he says: "the Government will announce the extra runway at Heathrow along with lavish rhetoric about high-speed rail connections northward." One hopes that his further prediction: "when no one notices, the rail option can eventually be dropped" will not also come to pass.

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