Minor charge for Mini drivers?

16th January 2004 at 00:00
I was taken by your article regarding school funding in which the headteacher of the Stockport school observed: "It does seem amazing that more than half of families make no contribution (towards funding the budget shortfall), even though they can afford to. They seem quite happy to drop their children off in the morning in their BMWs and drive off," (TES, January 2).

Clearly, as the head suggests, BMW owners should be able to afford a contribution to their offspring's schooling. But what of other parents? I suggest that schools adopt a sliding scale of contributions linked to car ownership.

For example, while a BMW owner should be able to afford at least pound;20 per month (pound;10 being the figure suggested by the school in question), a Mercedes or Aston Martin owner could be asked for pound;25-30 in recognition of their greater vehicle-buying and insuring prowess.

Parents driving family saloons would pay the standard pound;10 although there would be a reduction to pound;8 for any car under 1500cc as a reward for their contribution to cutting harmful gas emissions.

The tariff for standard estate cars would have to be slightly higher, say pound;15, to compensate for the amount of extra pavement space used when dropping off pupils and the associated additional traffic congestion this would cause. Parents sharing lifts would only be required to pay a proportion of the standard pound;10 cost depending upon the number of passengers transported.

Owners of small cars such as Minis would be charged pound;4 per month, while those still driving a Ford Cortina would receive a pound;5 payment per month (taken from the BMW owner's contributions).

All of this could be simply administered by adopting the congestion charging principles of Ken Livingstone and allowing parents to pay by direct debit or by the purchase of vouchers.

Or perhaps the Government should just sort out the amount of money passed directly to schools so that heads can concentrate upon developing excellence, rather than spending valuable time trying to develop daft plans to raise money.

Chris Tooley

(Honda estate owner)

17 Cranesbill Drive

Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk

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