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I'm just saying...

14 Jan 2010 at 11:35

By Adrian Tink

2009, well that was a funny old year in motoring wasn’t it? Here’s my incredibly quick summary of the main stories...

2009, well that was a funny old year in motoring wasn’t it? Here’s my incredibly quick summary of the main stories – potholes, fuel duty increase, terrible year to be a car firm, more potholes, rise of drug driving, another fuel duty increase, fewer deaths on the road, one more fuel duty increase, car scrappage and of course a couple more Secretary of States for Transport. Oh and my particular favourite…..Jenson Button, World Champion!! Told you it was a quick review.

So it’s 2010 and the start of the “teenies”, what’s that all about? Sorry, but for me anyone with kids knows that’s way too close to “Tweenies” – and oh how I hate them, them and the Teletubbies….don’t get me started. You have permission to kick me if you ever see/hear me use the term “teenies” again.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I have two words for 2010 - electric cars! As you can tell I get a bit excited on the subject (as my colleagues will wearily testify) I could easily do a whole blog on the subject, and, in fact I think I will….but not just yet, I’ll wait until it's warmer….which is a shocking link to snow and the recent bad weather.

Firstly, huge HUGE amount of respect must be paid to all the RAC patrols and call centre staff who’ve handled record levels of callouts – if I wore a cap I would undoubtedly doff it to you all – brilliant stuff.

Now on to the impact of the snow on the roads and that most emotive of words…..gritting. Mention that word at the moment and I guarantee the phrase “what a great job the local authorities are doing” won’t be amongst the responses. You’ve more chance of people responding positively to the question “would you voluntarily like a highly invasive and rather uncomfortable medical procedure performed on you?”.

You’ll then undoubtedly be told that other countries seem to be better prepared for this, and undoubtedly they are, but this is where I start to feel some pangs of sympathy towards the local authorities – because I’m not convinced it’s a fair fight or one they can win whatever they do.

These “other countries” have been dealing with this type of weather for generations and have likely spent millions and millions of whatever pre-euro currency they used to have on being prepared for it. Let’s also not forget in most of these “other countries” that motorists generally accept that they will need to own a set of snow tyres – in some places it’s even the law!

We on the other hand are enduring the worst prolonged cold snap in some 30 years and wondering why local authorities haven’t spent large proportions of our hard-earned council tax on keeping grit “mountains” in the event of it happening?!? Oh and how many of us have had snow tyres sat in the garage for just such an event? Thought not.

The fact is, despite the undoubted Herculean efforts of our gritters, it hasn’t been enough – but these are exceptional circumstances.

Now if this type of prolonged cold weather is predicted to become the norm, then absolutely we need to do a better job of being ready – but are we prepared to personally foot the bill for something that may or may not happen every now and again?

Because local authorities only have a finite budget, so if they’re to spend more on being prepared for this then they have two options – increase our council taxes and/or take funding away from something else, such as education or social services. Don’t know about you but neither of those is particularly palatable! And ask yourself at the moment, based on the last few weeks are you prepared to fork out for snow tyres?

It’s at this point I would normally rant on about increased government support and how motorists contribute roughly £45 billion in motoring taxes to Treasury coffers. But let’s be honest, with the current economic situation I’m guessing you’re more likely to see Thierry Henry given the freedom of Dublin than central government funding being increased to the level that would be necessary to be prepared for a 30-year weather event!

Motorists have a lot to complain about in this country, we really do, but on this one I’m just saying can you really compare Sweden to Solihull or Finland to Finchley?

Ps one of those “other countries” struggling;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8449906.stm