Now, let’s make sure they stick to their word!
RAC technical director David Bizley looks at today’s Government announcement on how they intend to modernise and preserve our roads
So, here it is. The paper that has taken some time to get here due to the many wrong turns and bumpy roads on its journey, but in this one document was a healthy amount of detail that could indeed iron out the many problems in the UK’s road infrastructure.
In a step that can be seen as re-establishing the diminishing trust between the Government and the motorist, the DfT’s Command Paper: Action on Roads shows us their thinking of how our major roads and motorways can be better repaired and built.
We believe the key element of the paper is the decision to publish a Roads Investment Strategy with the funding underwritten by legislation.
The inclusion of a National Policy Statement should help to speed up the planning process and is therefore a positive step which recognises the importance of turning plans into delivery with a real sense of urgency.
The decision to follow the recommendations of the Cook Report – something we have been campaigning for – and make the Highways Agency a more commercial entity that is still ultimately responsible to the Government, should enable the agency to operate more efficiently and effectively. Ultimately, this can only benefit motorists, and indeed all tax payers.
As we said when in a previous blog when they gave us the headlines of these plans during the Spending Review, the key challenge now for all concerned is to not allow political change and partisan policy to blow the plans off course – something we have seen all too often in the past.
The paper notes that some projects will extend beyond the medium-term funding horizon of the Roads Investment Strategy and we hope that Government will continue to look at options to ring-fence some of the £40bn-plus per year of motoring taxes to create a genuine long-term funding stream for roads maintenance and development to underwrite such projects.
This bold investment plan must be 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.
But it is up to us all as motorists to keep the pressure on and ensure the strategic road network is an enabler, rather than an inhibitor of economic growth.