Milk the motorist – again.

On a rare occasion when I saw some TV, I was intrigued to see an advert from the government demanding that people pay their Vehicle Licence fees.
It did not surprise me that they are wasting more public money on ads, or that they wish to portray themselves as money-grabbers. That is exactly what we have come to expect from this rapacious crew. What did surprise me was their decision to tell the audience they have taken powers to crush your car if you forget to pay the VED. They showed a film of a perfectly good-looking car being needlessly destroyed, just because the owner had not paid the tax. No wonder they are 23% in the polls and falling.

I understand a lot of non-VED payers are also committing other crimes, and that the car impounded may have been stolen. Surely, in such circumstances, the authorities should seek to return the car to its legal owner, rather than crush it? If the car belongs to a forgetful, legal owner on holiday or otherwise away, it seems very unfair to crush the vehicle, if he or she has had no opportunity to pay the tax and penalties to get the car back.

It sums up this government’s approach. Taking money off people – to pay for ads, spin doctors and more bureaucracy – is the aim. Getting brutal with people who do not pay is the means. Viewers were obviously meant to feel on edge, and had to rush out to where their cars were parked to check they had not made a mistake.

Someone might be away on business, on holiday, or very busy when the VED tax demand arrives. The renewal note might be sent to the wrong address, or they might have forgotten to notify all the money-grabbing branches of government when they moved. Shouldn’t such people be treated more sympathetically? By all means charge the non-payers extra to help cover the costs of compliance, but isn’t crushing a car way over the top?

Now we hear today that Nottingham Council are planning to levy a tax on employers – who may make their employees pay it – for every car-parking space they have thoughtfully provided in the city centre. For heaven’s sake! The employers who provide car slots are helping take vehicles off the road. If you rely on municipal car parks and on street parking, you often have to drive round and round looking for a space as they usually underprovide. The employers who have their own car parks contribute to reducing congestion, at no cost to the Council.

If the government have begun to “get it”, they will veto this scheme as yet another example of how to pillage the parker and milk the motorist.

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28 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    One might reasonably assume that if a company is located in Nottingham, it may consider relocating to an area where the council is slightly more grateful for the jobs, uniform business rate, wider economic benefits of employed staff etc

    As for the crushing of cars, I think that is only used where the cars are of such low value that the owners wouldn't bother to reclaim them if they were impounded, but I wouldn't swear to that.

    But your wider point is entirely correct; more uncompromising nasty authoritarianism that will tolerate no dissent or variation.

  2. GeoffH
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    This is yet another symptom of Labour's passion for control and regulation. Often, this may be in a good cause but – leaving that aside – what is always means is the creation of a class of people charged with enforcing these controls and regulations.

    In other words, a whole army of people whose job is solely to boss the rest of us about.

    I don't suppose for one moment that fining a disabled driver for displaying the Blue Parking Permit upside down or enforcing a fixed penalty notice on a man driving at 35mph in a 30mph area when trying to get his wife in labour to the maternity unit (two recent examples) were ever on the radar of Labour legislators.

    But that is what you get when you over-regulate; a culture and class whose sole aim is to 'enforce' without resort to simple common sense or decency.

    I believe this must be a prime aim of an incoming Conservative government – to reverse the impact of control and regulation in all areas of our daily lives.

  3. Tony Makara
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    These chilling threats from the Labour government via the tele-screen are becoming more frequent and more intimidating. They tell us much about the psychology of this government and its swaggering attitude towards the people it governs. The attacks on the motorist are very much an attack on the individual. The Labour government would much rather see people collectively crammed together like sardines on public transport, by contrast the motorist is a free-spirit, and the government does not like that, so car-owners are hit again and again. Such attacks on motorists are statist ideology dressed up as environmentalism.

  4. haddock
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I would argue that many over the VED infringements are not a crime. I have just renewed my car insurance, online, and it will run for one year; not a minute more or less. When I buy a tax disc for my car it is seldom for one year; not a minute more or less; if I change cars near the end of a month the 'year' starts from the first of the month, that 'year' could be just a day or two over 11 months.
    With the ability of prodnoses to check on a computer if I have paid the VED rather than rely on the date on a tax disc is it not time to stop this hidden fleecing of the motorist? How many motorists have been prosecuted that have not renewed according to the calendar but are within the 365 days they have paid for?

  5. Dr Dan H.
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Interesting how Nottingham Council have waited until after the council elections to release this gem, isn't it?

  6. Cliff
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I have stated on here previously how much I object to the number of threatening "adverts" from government and it's agencies that infest my TV viewing.

    Car tax, TV license, carbon footprint, join the army, get training, pay your income tax, benefit fraud etc etc. I would love to know how much money Dot Gov pays out each year on TV and radio campaigns.

    It seems the government is trying to put the fear of God into it's population, could it be a frightened population is easier to control?

    We seem to have developed a fine culture in this country under Nanny Labour. They are in danger of turning the criminal justice system into another branch of HMRC. When the criminal justice system is used as little more than a tax raising system, people remove their support for the system.

    Hardly a day goes by without it seems, someone or some corporate body being hit by a record fine.

    (Para left out)
    This country has gone to the dogs over the last eleven years, I just hope when Mr Cameron gets in, he puts right all the injustices and rubbish put in place by Labour.

  7. Tim Bull
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    John: To witness real menace, you need to view the "… we've got everyones name and address on a database …. there's no escape …. pay up your TV licence, or else …" production.

    I'm not one to make flippant references to Huxley's '1984', but in the case of that particular ad, comparison is entirely justified.

  8. David Burch
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I am very glad that I am not alone in finding the DVLA adverts offensive. Threatening the tax payer may not be the best policy to get most of them to pay.

    Getting rid of this "poll" tax as well as its friend the TV licence "poll" tax would save millions of pounds in overcomplicated civil servants and their administration systems.

    Its is also of note that the TV Licence adverts on the BBC although more jokey are also threatening in a "we are watching you and we know where you are way".

  9. adam
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Its from agenda 21/sustainable development, the Al Gore/Maurice Strong crowd.

    more specifically UNECE 'environment for europe' process, later renamed 'eco forum'

    members of the executive across europe went to UN issue and working groups. I have a copy of some of the conclusions, its very anti-car.
    Talks about stopping all road building, pedestrianising city centres, promoting rail travel and cycling.

    Crushing cars is symbolic of that agenda.

  10. Rose
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I haven't seen this advertisement, but I have seen a similarly totalitarian one on the BBC about licence fees – twice – and I still can't believe they could produce such a nasty little film for the audience which pays their wages. It betrays the same hate-filled socialist attitude as the one you describe: "We are the Masters now." Thank goodness for the internet, or we might think we were living in a Kafka novel!

  11. Patrick, London
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Well we've had 11 years of this (nonsense -ed) and hopefully not too much longer to put up with it. Do you know John if there is someone in the Conservative party who is keeping a list of all the nannying regulations that should be killed off? It would be a crying shame if Cameron got to be PM but then didn't have a very clear idea of all the things that needed to be repealed or undone in short order. In fact if he doesn't have this I think a swift sense of let-down would ensue.

    Reply: I gave one such list in my Economic Policy Review

  12. AlanofEngland
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    On the matter of paying the Road Tax and the requirement to show a valid disc, what's wrong with that, and to take the matter further why not be required to display a valid MOT disc (now compulsory in NI) and a valid Insurance Disc (compulsory on the continent)? They are all legal requirements, and there are apparently hundreds of thousands of people breaking the laws, and guess what, we who DO pay are penalised by having to pay extra for the lawbreakers. In my view any police officer, traffic warden or local authority officer should be able to report ANY vehicle not displaying the correct THREE discs, the vehicle should then be clamped and the vehicle examined for roadworthiness. If found NOT to be roadworthy the vehicle should be scrapped forthwith, at a great saving of time and possibly lives!! Any other vehicle owners should be given seven days to pay, after which the vehicle should be legally sold to defray all costs to the authorities.

  13. Derek W. Buxton
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Such an action must under "Common Law" be illegal, it is theft.
    Is there not a clause in the "Bill of Rights" that forbids fines or forfeitures without due process? What has happened to the traditional safeguards fought for by our ancestors? We are no longer a free people, we are slaves!

  14. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Just axe VED totally as it is a complex tax that does nothing to help the environment as congestion & emmissions rise . Motorists are paying too much for a state sector that wastes too much !

  15. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Just axe VED totally as it is a complex tax that does nothing to help the environment as congestion & emmissions rise . Motorists are paying too much for a state sector that wastes too much !

  16. Fergus
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    My word, I actually agree with what is said here. I'm all in favour of selectively taxing car users to dissuade them from unnecessary car use (and use of unnecessarily large/inefficient cars). However, based on the same viewpoint, the idea of perfectly good cars being crushed is abhorrent. Does it really happen?

  17. mikestallard
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    And let us not forget the scandal of hospital parking and the lady who was fined for watching her husband dying…..

    Left wing governments easily turn to violent repression. It is noteworthy how the Guardian cartoons are much more spiteful and violent than, say, the Telegraph's. I think this violence is caused by frustration: things go wrong, so whose fault is it? Obviously the hated Tories, who, as we all know, walk round in top hats and tails and exploit the poor workers.
    I have just finished Montefiore's book on Stalin, who had this fixation in spades: the wreckers!

  18. Bazman
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Does not apply to dumped cars. Or vandalised cars on council land. The owners rights are then above the publics right not to have a ruined and dangerous near their houses and the parts used to destroy further property True or not. I was told this was the case. When talk of council collusion in an illegal scrapyard and legal advice needed. The car was removed. Coincidence?
    How many cars have been crushed? Not many I should think. To expensive.

  19. ROJ
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I think that charging companies for providing parking spaces for employees is an outrageous idea, but then, what can we expect from a Labour controlled council. But it is not really in keeping with the spirit of localism to suggest that the central government veto the idea. If more power is passed from the centre to local organisations, as it should be, there are likely to be more decisions, locally, that we may disagree with. It is up to the voters of Nottingham to express their view on these parking charges the next time they get to vote for their local council.

  20. Adrian Peirson
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    They are trying to Intimidate, they are doing it at schools too, my children are now told they are not alowed to put their arms round each other, no Physical contact at all, they are not allowed to Play British Bulldog.
    Getting them used to being Pushed around by the state.

    These People are ( becoming a little like? ed)Communists, Reid Straw, Mandelson, Hariet Harmthem, Prescott, they want a cowed Populace.
    http://www.eutruth.org.uk

  21. Bexleyite
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    It doesn't work anyway.

    My car was untaxed for 6 months, kept on a private driveway without a SORN. Nothing happened.

    I used it only rarely, for a 2 mile trip to work, when it rained and I couldn't use the push bike. I was caught on a mobile ANPR camera. Nothing happened.

    I went to Yorkshire on the M1, went to the A1 through Nottinghamshire because of a tailback following an accident.

    Nottinghamshire is full of ANPR cameras. Nothing happened.

    Finally I went to the local DVLA office to tax the car and to pay the back tax.

    They re-taxed the car and said we don't take back tax.

    It's like the TV tax. If you don't pay, they send you computer-generated letters based on the fact that a previous occupant had a TV and a TV licence.

    Then they send someone round to knock on your door.

    Who opens the door to anyone who hasn't phoned and said we'll be round at such and such a time?

    There's a moral somewhere.

    Except for the bloke who sawed his car in half when it was SORNed but the council decided he was liable because the back bumper was over-hanging the pavement.

    Now, that's a political statement.

  22. Mr Ecks
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    If these clowns are so good and they have the "number" -so to speak -of all these offenders then why are they wasting millions on witless t v ads?. Why don't they just motor along and close in on the malefactors?.

  23. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    For some reason I find all the adverts for the "People's" post office even more disturbing

  24. [[NAME EDITED]]
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    AlanofEngland, since the record-keeping is so brilliant the display of a disc (let alone three of them, as you suggest) should be unnecessary. Before a police car pulls you over the police already have all the information they need about you and your car, whether you have paid up, had the MOT, are insured, etc. Not displaying a disc, or discs, is yet another offence, which ought to be abolished. VED ought to be abolished in any case; they get all the money they need from fuel duty.

  25. AlanofEngland
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    The abolition of VED is a matter for future policy making. All I'm saying is the people who will cheat by not having the required cover, be it insurance, MOT or VED, would probably be driving unsafe vehicles that might kill someone, and they should be indentified and crushed forthwith.

  26. Travis Bickle
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Commercial Radio would grind to a halt without all the government advertising revenue they receive. Tax doesn't have to be taxing and all that garbage. It's all just like the hoops they make travellers jump through at airport security points, window dressing. Substance over spin my rrrrs.

    I suspect quite a bit of advertising revenue could be saved by an incoming administration.

  27. David Morris
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    If Employers in Nottingham don't pass the parking charges on to their employees you can bet your life that HMRC will be applying a few "benefits in kind" deductions from their Tax Codes. "Hard working families we feel your pain." indeed.

  28. Jonathan Robson
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Well said John – No ifs, No buts, No excuses, No mitigating circumstances – thats Labour all over. Just like the BBC licence tax
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=8ee_1210010683&amp

    Frightening stuff.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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