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Osborne pledges funding for roads

20 Mar 2014 at 11:18

Chancellor George Osborne has put aside an extra £200 million in his Budget to repair potholes and roads after severe winter weather.

It comes as part of a range of measures that are designed to repair Britain's motoring infrastructure after years of disrepair.

He has also pledged £270 million towards raising the debt finance for the Mersey Gateway Bridge that will see the construction of a road bridge over the River Mersey.

Additionally, he said that he would support possible improvements to the A1 north of Newcastle upon Tyne, if the Scottish Government agreed to match the cost of funding a feasibility study into the development.

Mr Osborne will also support the Greater Cambridge enterprise partnership's transport and infrastructure plans, which could be worth up to £500 million over 15 to 20 years.

Meanwhile, the Budget contained plans to freeze fuel duty, rather than raising it in September.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "George Osborne is one of the few chancellors who has actually reduced fuel duty by cutting a penny off in the 2011 Budget instead of just putting it up like most of his predecessors, and we had hoped he would see the wisdom in doing so again, but sadly that hasn't happened.

"While keeping duty the same will prevent the hardship motorists already feel from high fuel prices getting any worse, a cut was needed to reverse this punitive charge which is effectively a tax on virtually every British business that uses vehicles, as well as daily living as the vast majority of people rely on vehicles for work and everyday life.

"Along with the FairFuelUK campaign, we wanted to see a radical and much-needed 3p a litre cut in fuel duty as we believe this would do far more good for the economy than simply freezing it. The economic benefits of a fuel duty cut have been clearly demonstrated in reports produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, as well as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

"We can only hope Mr Osborne is saving the best news for the autumn in the form of a vote-winning duty cut ahead of next year's election."

He added: "An extra £200 million - if indeed this is new money - for councils to apply for to repair our pothole-ridden roads is a step in the right direction, but in reality it is probably not enough to bring our roads back up to the standard that every motorist has the right to expect.

"We need whole stretches of road to be resurfaced regularly rather than just patching them when they start to fall apart, costing taxpayers more and more money every year. Simply filling potholes is a massive false economy which has now unfortunately become necessity. We really need to put an end to this by making sure roads are never allowed to degenerate to the point where potholes develop.

"Legislating to give the Welsh Government new tax and borrowing powers to fund infrastructure and start work on improving the M4 in South Wales is welcome news, as is a £270 million guarantee for the Mersey Gateway Bridge."

Copyright Press Association 2014