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Call to give road pricing benefits to taxpayers

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Income from road pricing should be returned to council taxpayers, the boss of one ofBritain's leading transport companies has urged.

Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach, told the Local Government Association's transport conference last week that the idea of earmarking revenue from charges for transport projects was "dead".

Mr Souter said: "If you tax road users through a congestion charge and then use that money to reduce the council tax, it means those who use public transport get money back from those who drive, so it creates a flow of money from the wealthy to the poor."

He suggested that a residents' 'carbon credit' council tax discount would make road-user charging political acceptable, while promises to use the money raised for transport projects would be widely disbelieved.

Bus operators support road pricing as it could increase passenger numbers and reduce congestion that delays buses.

But David Sparks (Lab), chairman of the LGA regeneration and transport board, said: "I don't think it would work."

Transport minister Rosie Winterton added: "Under the draft Local Transport Bill, road pricing revenue goes back to councils to spend on local transport."

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