RAC technical director David Bizley explains why the Government’s Spending Review announcement could mean long-term benefit for motorists – as long as it’s not thrown off course.
27 Jun 2013 at 13:21
In what might feel like a long time coming we have at last had some good news for motorists from the Government in the shape of a £28bn investment in the UK’s roads.
In an announcement by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Government has recognised the need for important maintenance and increasing road capacity to remove frustrating bottlenecks on some of our busiest roads.
He went on to explain that the Government intends to take action on fixing the backlog of road maintenance, ‘which has left road surfaces in communities up and down the country crumbling’ with a £10bn investment in road repairs between 2015-16 and 2020-21.
This will be split into more than £4bn spent on national road maintenance – apparently ‘enough to resurface over 21,000 miles of road; the equivalent of London to Beijing and back’.
While the other £6bn of that money will be spent at a local level – and the Government claims this will allow Local Authorities to fill the equivalent of 19mn potholes a year.
We know from the RAC Report on Motoring 2013 that spending on local roads is the number one priority for motorists, many of whom have experienced an accident or breakdown due to poor quality of our highways and byways.
And the benefits are not just for individual drivers, but for the country as a whole, as such investment will ensure the strategic road network helps create, rather than get in the way of, economic growth.
Alongside campaigning for this investment, the RAC has also been relentless in calling for motorways and major roads to be run as efficiently and effectively as possible and we hope the bold investment plan is delivered on time – and within budget – so that motorists and businesses can reap the benefits and we see a genuine reduction in congestion and poor road surfaces.
The decision, therefore, to follow the recommendations of the Cook Report and make the Highways Agency a more commercial entity that is still ultimately responsible to the Government is a welcome move.
However, there is still a need to be wary and ensure these plans are not blown off course by any successive powers or political priorities.
And there is a risk that the benefits of such significant investment could be undermined as cuts to local authority budgets continue – and with it their ability to contribute their share of local road maintenance from the money they generate themselves.
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