Week In Week Out

This week, BBC Wales’s current affairs programme Week In Week Out will reveal controversial proposals for pay-as-you-drive road pricing which may be imposed only on the busiest roads in south-east Wales, with the rest of Wales escaping any charges.

Welsh Transport Minister Andrew Davies tells the programme that, because congestion is mainly a problem in Newport, Cardiff and the south east Valleys, it may not be necessary to impose charges right across Wales.

“I think the jury is out on that,” he says. “And personally I think it may not be relevant to have an all Wales scheme”.

The UK Government wants to introduce road pricing to ease congestion, but the Assembly has the last word on what happens on roads in Wales.

Taken For A Ride? takes to the road with Cardiff courier Bernard Simpson who drives 70,000 miles a year, and the team investigates what road pricing will mean for businesses like his that rely on motoring.

His name is one of more than 1.5 million on a petition to Downing Street protesting against the proposals. He feels it is a cost too far which may drive him out of business.

“There’s only so much you can take,” he says. “It’ll make it difficult to continue in the business.”

The proposals may also mean motorists will have to purchase tracking devices for their cars and pay a monthly bill to use them. Feasibility studies suggest this could cost drivers up to £25 a month. Apart from the costs Bernard is also unhappy about having his every mile monitored.

But UK Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman says no decisions have been taken yet about how road pricing will work. He admits that the public are not convinced, but gives an assurance that it will be designed to take account of big brother fears.

With official figures showing that only five per cent of accidents are caused by driving above the speed limit, Taken For A Ride? also examines the case for speed cameras.

The cause of two-thirds of accidents is driver inattention, something Meinir Walters from Carmarthenshire has to live with daily. Her five-year-old son Steffan was killed when a coach driver ploughed into the back of their car while it was stationary at traffic lights.

“He has totally and utterly ruined our lives, and our lives will never be the same again,” she tells the Week In Week Out team.

Week In Week Out, Tuesday 20 February 2007, 10.35pm, BBC One Wales

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