Our hearts sank in despair as we crossed our local bridge and looked down at the parking zone below as queues formed for the bridge and the inevitable toll! Apparently there had been an accident on the Kent side of the road that was causing the delay. We have no idea how long it took to clear it as we made a snap decision to go clockwise (north) and go that way. I did at one point say to Ishbel, rather grumpily as we were now in the hottest day of the year, that I wished we had just stayed at home, as much as I wanted to see the grandkids and spend time with them, our usual journey of about an hour and a half took us approximately three hours as there was delays further round between junctions 17 and 14 as signed on the overhead notices, but in reality from Junctions 18 to 11, the one we get off on for Woking. Fortunately, by the time we left to return home at 8.30 that night the roads were clear and the journey home was uneventful taking the usual 90 or so minutes.
And then, to add to the misery of the more frequent users and of all the local road users whose roads get snarled up as a result of queues on the M25 and A13, this nightmare of a road system presided over by consecutive lying cheating British Politicians/Governments, another accident occurred on Monday (admittedly not politicians fault) that resulted in all lanes from Essex to Kent being closed around 6PM and once again drivers getting out of their cars to spend three hours walking up and down the hard shoulder with their babies, toddlers and dogs in an attempt to at least cool their frazzled bodies if not the immense frustration and anger at once again being held up for 3 hours. And as the queues hadn't quite reached the prescribed length as laid down by statute, when the road was eventually re-opened, the tolls were left in place, just so the misery could be inflicted even longer by keeping the traffic moving at a snails pace.
I did mention earlier about lying cheating politicians and governments and the reason I made that comment was because when they first announced the build of the QEII bridge out of public funds they also told us that once the money had been raised through the tolls to reimburse the public purse, the tolls would be removed, it wasn't and in fact it has been increased in an effort to reduce traffic using the bridge and tunnels, which just goes to show how dumb our politicians are, how can you stop an ever increasing level of traffic on the roads especially when the rail infrastructure is so expensive and unreliable?
Now, to the title of this blog, sorry about the preamble rant but,........
It now transpires that in an effort to keep the vast amount of vehicles using this route on a daily basis, because, a) it is there and b) there is not another option for them except to take a million miles out of their way by way of a detour, they, the ConDems have decided that they are going to continue to keep it as a toll road but instead of barriers they are going to introduce free flowing traffic through Number Plate Recognition Cameras and driver will have until midnight of the day they travelled through the toll to go online or visit one of the retailers who operate the payment system. The only problem with this is, that if any UK citizen fails to pay by midnight they will end up with a demand for payment plus a fine, through the post, non payment will lead to further action including through the courts!
And this is where once again the UK government are going to introduce another method of foreign aid to European based registration numbers and drivers. It is my understanding that if a UK driver travels to continental Europe and is caught on camera for a traffic offence or non payment of an auto toll, then the issuing jurisdiction will pursue the UK driver for payment and fines back here in the UK. But, at this moment in time we have no reciprocal means to do this from the UK as the Mayor of London has found to the tune of millions of pounds through the London Congestion charge where every year thousands of European drivers enter London , do not pay the charge and then bugger of back to Europe and are never pursued as there is, as I understand it, no international legal framework in place to allow pursuit. So, how can continental Europeans pursue British drivers, but we can't do it the other way round? Simple 'the UK' make enough from the mugs in the UK to not make it worth their while pursuing foreign drivers, even although it is costing millions in unpaid tolls.
Even if they did pursue foreign drivers for this 'toll' would it be economically viable, I have no idea? But here's a thought. If they are going to install ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras at the tolls why don't they do the same at every port in Britain. Then, when a foreign vehicle attempted to leave the country after going through a toll a warning flashes up at the port of exit the vehicle is stopped and the driver is reminded that he has gone through a toll previously, that there is a charge to pay before leaving the country and that all forms of payment, including debit and credit cards and even cash will be accepted in payment, before they leave the country, job done and we end up NOT GIVING more FOREIGN AID to others who shouldn't have it!
Just another thought, that is all......