PM signals £15bn ‘roads revolution’

Published: Monday 10th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A £15 billion cash boost will be used to tackle more than 100 of the most notorious problem hotspots on England’s roads by the end of the decade, David Cameron will announce.

The Prime Minister will tell business leaders that hundreds of extra lane miles will be created on motorways and trunk roads as part of a “roads revolution” that will speed up journey times.

Plans to build a tunnel under Stonehenge have reportedly been looked at by the Government to help ease congestion on the A303 and the route to the south west is among those that is set to benefit from the cash.

Work on stretches of the A1 round Newcastle, roads across the Pennines, the A47 in the east of England and the A27 on the south coast are also in line for funding.

Mr Cameron will tell the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference in London the plans for the “biggest, boldest and most far-reaching” upgrade to roads in a generation will be announced in next month’s autumn statement.

He is expected to say: ” Our long-term economic plan is turning Britain round. And nowhere is this better demonstrated than in what we are doing on infrastructure.

“We inherited a huge budget deficit and frankly, as we went about finding savings, it would have been easy for us to cancel Crossrail, cancel HS2, cancel projects that were politically controversial.

“But we didn’t. We know to secure Britain’s future, we need world-class infrastructure. Families need it to get around; businesses need it to create jobs; we need it to compete with the world and deliver economic security.

“So whenever we have been faced with the choice between the past and the future, we have always chosen the future. Not just HS2 and Crossrail; but HS3, the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian time, a new nuclear power station and tapping shale gas – we have always chosen the future.

“And I can tell you this today: in three weeks’ time you will see an autumn statement where we choose the future again. At its heart is the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching road improvement programme in four decades: over 100 improvements to our major roads.

“Hundreds of extra lane miles on our motorways and trunk roads. The green light given to major projects that have been stalled for years. Action to improve some of the most important arteries in our country – like the A303 and the A1 – which for too long have held parts of our country back. And all underpinned by over £15bn worth of investment.

“This will be nothing less than a roads revolution – one which will lead to quicker journey times, more jobs, and businesses boosted right across the country.

“And let me add this: we’re the only ones who can afford to do this because we have taken difficult decisions on spending elsewhere. We’re the only ones who have the guts to deliver it because when it comes to the big infrastructure decisions our country needs, we have shown we always take them.

“And we’re the ones with the vision and optimism to make it happen it, because whenever we have been faced with choosing the past or the future, we have always chosen the future.

“So with this autumn statement we will continue what we’ve done for four years: taking action today to secure a better tomorrow. That’s what our long-term economic plan is all about – and that is what is turning Britain around.”

Chris Todd, roads campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The road building schemes the Government is so keen to talk up will trash protected areas and do nothing for the economy.

“It makes no sense to spend billions ploughing more lanes of traffic through our National Parks or desecrating irreplaceable historic sites like Stonehenge.

“These schemes will make people more dependent than ever on their cars, place greater costs on the NHS, while failing to tackle problems like the massive backlog of pot holes blighting local roads.”

AA president Edmund King said: “Roads carry 90% of goods and people and are our biggest transport asset and so it makes perfect sense to upgrade them to help the UK economy by improving journey times for people and business.

“AA members have told us, in a new AA/Populus that the most important message they want conveyed to the Government is ‘we pay too much motoring tax yet so little is spent on the roads’. Perhaps at long last road users are going to see more of their hard paid motoring taxes being reinvested in the road network”.

Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said: “This is another pre-election con trick from David Cameron. This desperate so-called announcement of promised road improvements includes no additional money and people simply won’t fall for it.

“When it comes to road investment, the truth is Cameron leaves us like a frustrated motorist trying to get through the rush hour – we’re stuck going nowhere fast.

“Cameron should be judged on his record, not on a speech, and his record on road investment has been nothing but a chaotic series of u-turns. Cutting investment, then promising to restore it after 2015. Cancelling road schemes, like the A14, then reinstating them. And constantly failing to meet deadlines for the completion of improvements.

“Far from taking big decisions on transport, Cameron has dithered for five years on airport expansion and has been so slow to bring forward the HS2 Bill that it won’t pass in this Parliament.

“We know Cameron’s record on infrastructure is one of all talk and no delivery. Infrastructure output has fallen by nearly 20% since May 2010 and less than a third of projects in the Government’s pipeline are actually classed as ‘in construction’.

“The Tories should back Labour’s plan for an independent infrastructure commission to end the dither and delay on the decisions we need to take for Britain’s future.”

Published: Monday 10th November 2014 by The News Editor

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