A FAIR DEAL FOR THE MOTORIST
CREEPING ROADS SELL-OFF
LACKS DRIVER CONFIDENCE
It would be seen as politically unacceptable for the government to privatise our roads and bring in a national road pricing (aka tolling) scheme in one go.
However, the government overwhelmingly accepted the Cook Report on changes to the way England’s main roads are run, including sweating the maximum return out of them and consideration of road tolls.
On 6 June 2014, it launched the controversial Infrastructure Bill in the House of Lords. It plans to replace the Highways Agency, the government department in charge of these roads, with a company, at first state-owned.
The independent poll showed that over three-quarters (78%) of drivers were unaware of the proposed changes to managing these roads. We could see the roads carved-up to a number of outsourcing companies, who will be out to make a profit. The Bill worryingly sets up powers to apply a toll.
ROAD PRICING CONCERNS
When the previous government moved to bring in road pricing, the ABD’s Peter Roberts launched his famous petition against it. Over 1.8 million people signed it, as concerned about journey tracking and privacy as the effect on their pockets.
The independent poll reflects similar concerns where main roads might be run by a company:
Does the government really wish to go against the grain of public opinion in the year before another election?
GOVERNMENT MIS-REPRESENTING DRIVERS?
Despite the fact that 5 of every 6 journeys are made by car or van, this government has allowed itself to be preoccupied with rail, not least the costly white elephant HS2.
Another indication that it is becoming adrift from the concerns of Britain’s 33 million drivers. Is the proposal in the Bill to have a rail passengers’ group look after drivers’ interests, something in which it has no experience whatsoever.
The independent poll asked drivers to indicate which groups they might be inclined to trust or distrust to represent them. In descending order....
Ironically, the one option that the government has not seriously considered to represent drivers is the independent motorists’ group! When the grass-roots Alliance of British Drivers applied to join the government’s Motorists’ Forum, the latter responded that it already had enough members!
The Motorists’ Forum includes representatives of... insurance companies, a group promoting speed cameras, a campaign to stop road building, a Chief Police Officers’ group, and a company providing motoring breakdown services!
DRIVER SATISFACTION AND AWARENESS
Before answering any other questions, drivers were asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with England’s main roads
The independent poll also showed that two-thirds (67%) of drivers were unaware that in broad terms, drivers pay about £50 billion a year in taxes, whereas about £10 billion a year is spent back on roads.
A leading industry polling company conducted an online poll involving 1537 drivers (most of whom drive regularly) between 15-17 July 2014. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. Although the focus of the poll was main roads in England, drivers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were also included. This is both because they might drive on English roads, and because their MPs will have a vote on the Infrastructure Bill.