8/14/2009UK Hands Taxpayer Money to Anti-Motorist Groups
Taxpayers Alliance report documents $1.5 million in taxpayer money handed to anti-motoring groups that support government policies.
Special interest groups devoted to undermining the rights of motorists have received millions in grants from the UK government. These organizations promote raising taxes on drivers, increasing the number of speed cameras and boosting subsidies for inefficient modes of transportation. A report issued earlier this month by The Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) used freedom of information requests and government reports to calculate the amount of public money that lobbying groups receive.
"The TPA report goes a long way towards explaining why the debates on the issues of road transport and climate policy are so one-sided," said Paul Biggs, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers (ABD). "Democracy is being bypassed in order to further agendas that wouldn't survive objective scrutiny or a proper democratic process. The use of taxpayers' money to fund political viewpoints that they may seriously not agree with is a national scandal that needs to be urgently addressed."
The Campaign for Better Transport, also known as Transport 2000, strongly advocates the use of speed bumps, the lowering of speed limits to 20 MPH, narrowing of roads, speed cameras, permanent road closures and many other policies designed to make driving less attractive. The group was recently quoted in the Daily Mail newspaper supporting a government proposal to impose a £350 (US $580) annual tax on drivers who park at work. For its work supporting government proposals, the group received £417,210 (US $691,405) in public funds in 2007. In addition to the public money, another twenty percent of the group's funds come from bus and train companies, according to a 2006 Daily Telegraph article.
Environmental groups like Living Streets, Friends of the Earth and The Green Alliance took £440,000 (US $727,000) in public funds. Brake is the most prominent of professional speed camera advocacy groups in the UK. The organization received £70,991 (US $117,373) in government grants and £285,718 (US $472,495) from corporate donors. Brake refuses to identify these donors.
The Taxpayers' Alliance believes using public money to support such groups has a chilling effect on free speech.
"This kind of spending massively distorts the British political debate," the TPA report stated. "When public policy and debate is driven by campaigns that represent the priorities of politicians and bureaucrats instead of the public, the views of ordinary people are increasingly pushed to the sidelines. Taxpayer funded lobbying and campaigning needs to end."
A copy of the TPA report is available in a 750k PDF file at the source link below.