Life is tough. It has been so much tougher over the last two years but, as we see that the Omicron variant is not nearly as dangerous as first speculated and the threat recede, we all want to return to normal.
Some politicians want a ‘new normal’ where they use the post-pandemic era as an opportunity to remodel society and our lives as they see fit. This is something that I reject as I believe that an infinitely complex and open society like ours needs all our individual decisions to mould it.
What is best for one individual, family, business or community is not always ideal for others. This is why I believe in low taxation and regulation so that we can all make the best of our own unique lives and experiences. Of course, Government and the services our taxes provide are important but they should not be too dominant.
We know that the experiences we have all gone through during the pandemic has changed the way we live our lives but many of us want and expect to largely return to normal as soon as possible.
Back in 2008, the Congestion Charge was seen as an unwelcome tax that would disproportionately hit the poor and small businesses and every borough in Greater Manchester overwhelmingly rejected it in a referendum. It would have been bad for business and most people who need to drive a car.
Unfortunately, local political leaders across Greater Manchester have resurrected the spirit of that tax and brought it back as the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone. We all want cleaner air but many other cities have decided to approach the problem in different ways.
The other solutions are on a much smaller scale and focus on town centres but the one being imposed on us is vastly larger and covers areas where pollution is not a problem. Initially, it will apply to certain relatively new vehicles that have Enviro 5 engines and earlier but the range of vehicles can be extended to include domestic vehicles as well as lorries, coaches and taxis. Our local political leaders only have to carry out a consultation before imposing a charge upon the family car and we know what little value they can be.
The Clean Air Zone details have been led by the local political leaders, is radically different from anywhere else in the country such as Birmingham and Liverpool, and affected businesses are not going to be fully compensated.
I have campaigned against this deal since the details were first published and was shocked when it was approved.
The financial burden on businesses was already too high and this will bankrupt some that have survived the pandemic.
It is not too late to pause and radically change the plan to one that could be acceptable.