MSP warns “pothole tax” would hit rural motorists

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has warned that proposals for a new tax to pay for the cost of repairing potholes risks disproportionately hitting drivers living in rural areas.

The proposal for a “pay-as-you-drive” tax was put forward at a meeting of Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee earlier this week as a way of meeting the costs of maintaining a road network falling into disrepair in many parts of Scotland.

Mr Halcro Johnston said: “Faced with a huge repair bill for our roads, some bodies are clearly looking for new ways of raising money to pay for the costs.

“But it is quite wrong to add another financial burden on people who live in rural areas and who, inevitably, are more dependent on cars for getting about. They have far fewer public transport alternatives and would be hit disproportionately hard by a tax like this.

“The deterioration of our road network is a direct consequence of inadequate funding by the SNP Government in Edinburgh, as well as their squeeze on the budgets of rural local authorities like Moray.

“Our local councils maintain the greater part of our local road network but, with the SNP hoarding increasing amounts of taxpayers’ cash on projects in the Central Belt, that has a real impact on those councils’ ability to meet even their existing commitments. 

“There is more to Scotland than just the Central Belt. It’s time Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP Government recognised that”.