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Councils seek increased powers to counter congestion

City centre traffic speed

Councils want more powers to deal with congestion on local roads, with average speeds falling in city centres across the country.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says they should be able to penalise motorists for moving traffic offences, such as blocking junctions, and introduce workplace parking levy schemes without getting Government approval.

Furthermore, it wants the same sort of long-term infrastructure funding for local roads maintenance as that enjoyed by Highways England and Network Rail.

It is forecasting that congestion will cost the economy £300 billion a year by 2030 – a tenfold increase of the current costs of £30.8bn a year. 

Cllr Judith Blake, from the LGA transport division, said: “When the average motorist is spending a working week every year sat in traffic on major roads, and losing almost a £1,000 in the process, it’s clear councils need to be able to do more to tackle this growing problem.”

The average speed on ‘A’ roads is now just 25.2mph, 1% slower than it was this time last year, according to LGA.

A new study of London from In-car Cleverness found that average driving speeds five miles from the centre reach just 8mph. 

Since 2016, speeds within one mile of the city centre have dropped by more than a mile per hour, with the average driver now registering 5mph.

The study analysed nearly 400,000 journeys over the same three-month period in 2016 and 2017, measuring average miles per hour achieved when driving within a five-mile radius of major city centres.

In Edinburgh, drivers slow to less than 7mph toward the centre of the Scottish capital, while driving speeds within one mile of the centre of Manchester have dropped nearly 2mph in just a year, with motorists now averaging just more than 6mph.

Paul O’Dowd, head of sales at In-car Cleverness, said: “The figures paint a stark picture of how everyday commuters, drivers and even businesses are struggling to get around or operate in some of the biggest hubs in the UK.”

However, Nottingham, which implemented a workplace parking levy for employers with more than 11 parking spaces in 2012, appears to be bucking the trend. 

The charge raised £9.3m in 2015/16 which has been invested in Nottingham’s public transport, including the second phase of the city’s tram network. 

The tram improvements led to an immediate £100m boost into the local economy and, unlike the rest of England’s core cities, the number of car miles is in decline. 

Between July 2014 and July 2015, after major works to improve the tram network were complete, Nottingham was the only core city in England to observe a reduction in journey time per vehicle mile on locally managed ‘A’ roads in the morning rush hour. 

The LGA says all authorities should be able to use powers to introduce the workplace parking levy and not have to go through the process of seeking Government approval.

A further LGA request to beef up council powers when it comes to managing roadworks looks set to be granted, however. 

The 2.5 million roadworks currently carried out each year cost the economy £4bn because people are unable to get to work on time or deliveries are delayed, resulting in higher costs for business.

But new Government proposals which would allow local authorities to charge utility companies by the hour to carry out works on selected routes have been announced (fleetnews.co.uk, September 4).

The charging regime would encourage them to avoid busy roads and peak times, and incentivise them to join together when they do need to dig up congested routes, says transport secretary Chris Grayling.

“This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save businesses from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads,” he said.

Successful trials in London and Kent have already seen severe congestion caused by utility works fall by more than half.

In London, utility companies have worked together more than 600 times since the trials began, up from just 100 beforehand.

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport for Transport for London (TfL), said: “It has been a resounding success in the capital, with the amount of severe disruption caused by badly-managed or poorly-timed roadworks more than halved. 

“This has helped improve journey times for bus passengers, drivers and cyclists, while also helping to tackle emissions.”

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  • Chris - 19/09/2017 13:29

    Yet another tax on the motorist….. Will we see the money raised by these taxes invested in local transport schemes or repairing roads or improving road infrastructure? If history is anything to go by, I doubt it. Why would people rather sit in their car in traffic jams that use public transport? Because, despite the jams, it is quicker, more convenient, cheaper and more reliable. Governments, UK wide and local, have an appalling track record of providing cheap, reliable public transport, hence only those that have to use it and have no choice, do so. Billions of £’s revenue previously raised from vehicle related sources over many years has not on the whole been spent on either improving infrastructure nor public transport. Why would anyone believe it would be now? Had this revenue been invested in the way that say Germany has over the last several decades we would now have a public transport system people would want to use instead of having to use their cars as there is little realistic alternative.

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