The future of Britain’s roads came under expert scrutiny at CILT’s panel debate at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week. A packed audience of politicians, Conservative members and industry experts heard CILT President Jim Steer reveal that traffic is set to increase by 40% by 2035. Jim Steer FCILT, who chaired the debate, posed the question should the Highways Agency be privatised.
In response The RAC Foundation’s Professor Stephen Glaister CBE called for a Roads Consumer Watchdog to be put in place, should the Agency be funded more commercially; and a five year plan introduced for our strategic roads network.
The audience was told by Stephen that the exchequer is likely to find itself some £13bn a year short of today’s income very soon, because considerably less income will be coming in through road and fuel taxes as cars become increasingly greener and use less fossil fuels. This means there has to be a re-examination of how we pay for new roads with tolls and a privatised Highways Agency, acting rather like Network Rail does for the railways, back on the agenda.