Tories commit to improving roads

Tories commit to improving roads

The Conservatives have reiterated their promise to invest £15 billion in roads if the party reclaims power in the upcoming general election.

Its manifesto, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday, reaffirms its commitment to the Road Investment Projects outlined in the Road Investment Strategy announced in December.

The party pledges to fill millions of potholes , add thousands of extra lane miles to the motorway network and improve dozens of problem junctions across England, plus has plans to dramatically cut emissions by 2050.

While acknowledging very little in the manifesto is strictly new, the RAC welcomes the pledge of road investment and particularly plans to address "chronic underinvestment" in pothole prevention.

There is though, it points out, no commitment as yet to a continued freezing of fuel duty.

Road Investment Strategy

The Road Investment Strategy, outlined in detail in the document, aims to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of the country's roads, making it the biggest upgrade to roads in a generation.

It will invest £15 billion nationwide over the course of the next parliament, with more than £6 billion earmarked for the northern road network, to keep the population connected and the economy growing.

More than 1,300 new lane miles will be added by schemes on motorways and trunk roads, tackling the issue of congestion and fixing some of the most notorious and long-standing problem areas on the network.

This includes £1.5 billion of investment to add an extra lane onto key motorways to turn them into smart motorways , improving journey times between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "The Conservatives' continued commitment to investing in the strategic road network to ease congestion and add resilience, and tackling the perennial problem of potholes, is a positive sign, although there is little that is new here.

"The £15bn Road Investment Strategy was published in December 2014 and motorists will simply want to see that the associated projects are delivered to plan. On potholes, what is needed is firm action that tackles the route cause which is a chronic under-investment in preventative maintenance over many years. Local authorities need the certainty of adequate funding over a sustained period, so they can plan their maintenance programmes more effectively.

"There is no commitment in the manifesto to continuing the freeze on fuel duty, the toughest form of taxation on the motorist, in the long term. Indeed, this is something that is also lacking in other party manifestos. While this suggests there is little appetite to look at this, we call on all the main political parties to make their position on fuel duty crystal clear, so that motorists are not unfairly hit with a nasty surprise when the new government takes office after May 7."

Further funding

The Tories have promised to invest an additional £500 million over the next five years in a bid to make almost every car and van a zero emission vehicle by 2050, as well over £200 million to improve the safety of cyclists .

They have also pledged to tackle aggressive parking enforcement and excessive parking charges, taking steps to clamp down on rogue and unfair practices by private parking operators, plus devolve far-reaching powers regarding transport to large cities which choose to have elected mayors.

The manifesto touches upon the party's support for innovation in the country's motor industry. It commits to providing continued provision, particularly backing vehicle manufacturing and engineering in the Midlands.

Copyright Press Association 2015 (Road Investment Strategy)