Road networks and infrastructure
Spending on British roads has averaged £8.6 billion a year for the past five years (national and local level) but, accounting for inflation, real spending fell 22% between 2008/9 and 2012/13.
In January, RAC Foundation said local authorities estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12bn, while almost 50,000 drivers made claims against councils across Britain for damage caused by potholes in the last financial year (see page 17 for more).
The Government announced a £15bn plan in December to triple the level of national road spending by 2020 to improve their capacity and condition, plus £10bn on maintenance for local and national roads.
This included investing in more than 100 new road schemes over this parliament and next, 84 of which are new.
These plans were published in the first road investment strategy, which includes £1.5bn to add extra lanes to turn key motorways into smart motorways, boosting connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.
The Fleet Industry Manifesto believes prevention is better than cure. There are currently too many regional variations between local authorities, in terms of both planning and overall funding levels.
A piecemeal, stop-and-go approach to funding makes it difficult for highways authorities to plan ahead, with too much work carried out retrospectively and not enough preventative activity that saves money in the long-term.
The Manifesto proposes that the Department for Transport should provide guidance to local authorities to help eliminate regional variations in the state of roads across the UK.
What is your view on investing in road infrastructure and maintenance?
Conservatives: Investing in road infrastructure is a vital part of our long-term economic plan to create jobs.
Labour: We recognise the important role the fleet industry plays in enabling economic activity and contributing towards economic growth. If we are to earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis and pay down the deficit, we need thriving businesses. The central task of the next Labour Government will be to work with business to create the conditions that allow this to happen.
Britain lags behind on delivering major infrastructure. That is why Labour backs Sir John Armitt’s proposal for an independent National Infrastructure Commission, to identify our long-term needs in transport, establish cross-party consensus on these priorities and ensure governments deliver them.
Labour would also prioritise fixing Britain’s pothole epidemic, working with councils to properly plan maintenance.
Labour will hand £30bn of resources from Whitehall to city and county regions to enable groups of authorities to decide locally on key decisions on infrastructure, including roads and safety measures.
Liberal Democrats: We are leading the renewal of Britain’s ageing infrastructure, but we have decades of under investment to catch up on. Improving roads is a massive priority for the Liberal Democrats, and Danny Alexander recently announced plans to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade, to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads.
We have established a fiscal rule so that we can invest in essential infrastructure to enable the economy to grow but this investment must also support economic, environmental and safety goals.
The Road Investment Strategy includes £15bn in the Strategic Road Network to 2020-21. The strategy establishes five designated funds, worth £900m, to address cycling, air quality, innovation and housing.
FleetNews view: A brief response from the Conservatives, but the Government has already outlined its investment plans. More detail from the Lib Dems, but essentially the same as the Coalition-based pledge. Labour’s £30bn appears generous, but will be spread over the course of parliament and, therefore, is only slightly higher than the current Coalition pledge. Labour is also called for a working party to help it decide future policy.