|21 July 2014.
For immediate release.
“It would be politically unacceptable for the government to privatise our roads and bring in a national road pricing scheme in one go. Nonetheless the government has overwhelmingly accepted the Cook Report on changes to the way our main roads are run, including sweating the maximum return out of them and consideration of road tolls. 2 It is now planning to replace the Highways Agency, the government department in charge of these roads, with a company, at first state-owned.ABD road pricing spokesman, Brian Mooney, noted:
Many drivers are unaware of the new Infrastructure Bill, now being debated in Parliament. This 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.” 3
“When the previous government moved to bring in road pricing, the ABD's Peter Roberts launched a famous petition against it. Over 1.8 million people signed it, as concerned about journey tracking and privacy as the effect on their pockets. Our independent poll reinforces their concerns:ABD founder & Chairman, Brian Gregory added:
Given that 'Motorway Man' was the key swing voter at the last general election, and no party really won him over, would the government really wish to go against the grain of public opinion in the year before another election?”
- 64% felt that if they had to pay tolls on roads that are currently free, it would affect their standard of living, and only 13% disagreed.
- 77% would respond to tolls by changing their journeys to untolled roads, which might be less suitable.
- 64% had concerns about their private journeys being recorded by a new roads management company
- By a clear margin of 53% to 25%, drivers would not want transport ministers to offload responsibilities for our vital main roads to such a company, as hinted by the Cook Report.
“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. Our drivers' poll indicates that suggestion would enjoy the support of a tiny 26% — compared with 67% who would prefer to see a truly independent drivers' group like the ABD in that role.
I call on John Hayes, the new minister in charge of the Highways Agency and our main roads, to take an axe to these muddled proposals that will leave millions of drivers worse off. Instead, he should focus on giving drivers the roads we've paid for several times in advance.”