The public reaction against national road charging was given a new vehicle recently with the launch of an electronic petition against the proposals. This document could become the first yardstick by which public opposition to the idea is measured, and if it continues to gather support at the current rate, it will leave ministerial advocates of the idea in no doubt about the strength of feeling they face.
According to Autocar's sources, pay-as-you-drive road charging has been part of the government's plan for some time now. This petition, which can be found here, was submitted by a Mr Peter Roberts, who argues that 'the idea of tracking every vehicle at all times is sinister and wrong. It will be an unfair tax on those who live apart from families and poorer people who will not be able to afford the high monthly costs.'
At the last check, 295,615 people had added their signatures to Roberts' list. The petition will remain open until 20 February, at which point it will be delivered directly to Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The document is already the most signed 'e-petition' on the Prime Minister's website by a factor of 15; if support for it continues to grow at the current rate (about 5000 signatures an hour, according to our estimates), it will be 2,500,000 names strong by the time it lands on Blair's desk.