Some freedom for motorists?

 

As we run up to the manifesto launches for the 2015 election , who will adopt a manifesto for motorists? The last couple of decades have seen motorists in the dock,  blamed almost solely for wrecking the planet with their CO2 emissions, and held to account for any problem on our inadequate road system. Despite all this, 86% of our journeys are by car or van, and we need road transport to supply us with food and other necessities, to get people to school and hospital and to get many to work.

A freedom manifesto for motorists could begin with the decriminalisation of parking offences within car parks and designated parking areas on highways which the government is pursuing. If someone overruns at the shops or gets detained on the way back to the car they should have to pay for the extra parking time, but not end committing an offence and having to pay a fine. Parking charges should be like the BBC Licence fee – a debt you owe a public body, not a tax you have to pay. Parking in places which blocks the road or causes danger to others is another matter where you should still be charged with an offence if you have broken the rules.

It could go on to incorporate common sense over road works. When will a party take up the idea that utility pipes and wires should in future be  buried in easily accessible conduits under the verge or pavement, with access points, so we do not have to dig up the main road every time a pipe or wire needs mending or improving? New construction should include these friendlier arrangements as a matter of course, and when pipes and wires need renewing the issue should be raised to see if they can buried somewhere more accessible than under the middle of a main road. The government and local authorities should improve their work with the utility businesses over hours of working, length of contract  and arrangements to allow maximum use of the highway when works are being undertaken.

It needs to offer motorists some respite from ever higher taxes and charges. Cutting the planned increases in fuel duty has been a popular action by the current government. Motorists still pay a disproportionate amount of the tax in the country, and further reductions would be welcome as the public finances improve.

Transport capital budgets need to be better balanced to allow more improvements on the highways. Improvements are particularly needed at busy junctions, where more segregation of different types of user of the junction allied to more capacity can make these crossing points safer for all and speedier. There should be more bridges to get over railway lines and rivers in busy towns and cities.

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59 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Indeed yet they subsidise and encourage bikes, trains and buses and electric cars which are worse for the environment in general.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      A level fiscal and subsidy playing field is what is needed let then all transport methods compete in the free(ish) market (and provide some roads and bridges). If governments are subsidising (trains for example) and not taxing it with vat, fuel duty, mugging fines etc. yet trains still cost a fortune. This is telling you how inefficient they are in general.

      I just heard Blair saying UKIP did not have any solutions for the modern world. Well no EU, free world trade, lower taxes, far less regulation, cheaper non green religion energy …… it all sound find to me.

      Blairs solution, I assume, would be to take the country to a totally pointless war, on a blatant lie (with people killed in war)then lose the war.

      Meanwhile Cameron says Farage is a “consummate politician”. Well perhaps he is one who finally says what he thinks and does what he says. The opposite of the, say one thing do the complete opposite, endless cheap PR stunts and distractions, fake enforced equality, hug a husky and huddie, toy wind turbines in non windy Notting Hill, ever higher taxes, big government, serial ratter type of consummate politician we have seen to much of recently with Major,Blair and Cameron.

      A Tory UKIP deal and a brain transplant for Cameron is the only way.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        (and points based selective immigration)

  2. ian wragg
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I commute 150 miles round trip 6 days each week at present using the M1 and A14. There is a plethora of average speed cameras and varying speed limits through road works even a Bank Holidays when no on was working. Some of these are designed to maximise revenue and have little to do with road safety.
    Councils use the motorist as a cash cow to supplement their wasteful budgets although this is supposed to be illegal.
    It will take a general strike by motorists similar to the earthquake of UKIP to nudge some sense into politicians. Don’t hold your breath.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      They are clearly all about revenue as can be seen from their positioning.

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I talked about freedom ( It was a comment not published) I wholly agree with the point about easing up on parking fines and clamping wheels. It impinges on the freedom of citizens. Unfortunately the types employed to execute these jobs appear to be hell bent in sticking a ticket on the windscreen. They hover around waiting for ‘a kill’. The system has become a social normal we could do without. Havn’t we got enough people telling us what to do day in day out?

    The BBC license is a good idea though , but whilst I am on the point it also has its drawbacks . The people who execute its business are impinging on freedoms.I am selling a house off which was left to me by my late mother. My son had the house for a couple of years and decided to move on to another area. He then moved his TV license on line to his new address. I then had a letter threatening of a £1, 000 fine if I do not pay the license. When I complained that I do not want a license and therefore 2 letters should not have been sent to me , the excuse was I should have let them know that my property was empty . It is no concern of TV licensing whether my property is empty or not . The License moves with the license holder and this was in order. I had not requested the services of the BBC at this property. This is another example of how freedoms are taken away by these despots.

    In important meetings I have often been concerned about how long I have got left on a metre and had my attention distracted from the content of discussion.It adds to the daily back biting and stress which have been imposed on us.

    Roadworks are essential and the maintenance of surfaces an important safety factor. As you say if access to the important water and electric connections were made accessible this would prevent hold ups.

  4. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Some freedom for motorists? Tha’ll be a day…..that I won’t see.

    The unification of services within highways I first saw in S. Arabia (Jeddah) in the 80s. The then mayor published his intentions and put it into force. What happened ultimately I don’t know. I did see some EHV cables buried, rather than strung about. That place was a large mess of tightly packed ad hoc build buildings is what I remember now. So much (sandy) land available?

    In UK with its v. old infrastructure would be near impossible to correct now. Running services together is easy and controlled by proximity regulations/access etc. Services have to cross highways! What they could do is do a better job in stopping electrical cables being stolen (roads/railways). Try to stop major works on the M25 happening all at once (North/South). What happened to planning?

    I note of recent past that major works on water mains in towns leaves covered/fenced gaping great holes in paving and roads for months. Spares/planning problem?

    Please remove as much street furniture as is safe to do. That business is for steel pole/signmakers and is seriously stupid.

    Road Tax. I would have expected that to be placed onto fuel, you know, pay as you drive. The reduction or no road tax for so called CO2-less vehicles verges on the criminal. If you use something (roads) pay for it, like the rest of us.

    The CO2 scam has created so called more fuel efficient engines. Yes, and very complex/spendy additions to them. That is greatly worsened by the EU forcing ever lower emissions. When will they stop? Battery vehicles…for the rich maybe? Last year I read the EU proposals for the next vehicle emissions target – trying to stop myself from slowly dying. Type Approval takes quite a bit of tweaking by manufacturers. Stuff like tweaking brake pads/discs so they did not quite rub. Tyre pressures tweaked to emission measurement. It was called tweaking in the EU document.

    I am trying to imagine a 2nd hand market for battery vehicles/hybrids. Trouble is I can’t.

    Stop the fossil fuel market speculators screwing up our lives. And DECC!

    Road intersections are very frightening indeed…too many cars and funnily enough too many people in the wrong places. Lets start with London for instance. I have to drive through there today (N to SE)…I simply hate it.

  5. Gary C
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Constructive thinking JR.

    I would add to your list transferring the road fund licence onto the cost of fuel.

    Apart from those who use less pay less it would mean every car filling up here pays it’s share of duty plus no more costs involved in chasing non payers.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Interestingly the nonsense electric cars they push with tax payer subsidies are almost free per mile after the huge capital costs as no tax on the fuel. So no incentive not to drive rather more. Using rather more carbon too. If you are concerned about that exaggeration,scam.

  6. Mark W
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Temporary traffic lights are a plague but they could be made better with a simple piece of legislation.

    They must be manually controlled by a human being at all times.

    Why? Then the ebbs and flows of traffic can be visually checked that no auto phasing deals with. Also a set put up on Friday afternoon would be took down by staff motivated by a weekend off not left up to their amusement for the nightmare they are causing and the extra job of turning up to take them down after Monday morning rush hour.

  7. Nick
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It’s illegal to park on a red route.

    However, if you dig up a red route, you can take the bank holiday’s off. Work a 5 hour day, ….

    Red routes – you have to work 24/7.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 28, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Red route are all about more & larger fines nothing more. Many red route are blocked with almost empty bus lanes or one man buses stopping every few yards. Also why do taxis which are just cars get preferential treatment over other cars?

  8. Old Albion
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    All very interesting John, but today shouldn’t we be discussing the EU election results and their consequences ?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Albion–Simon Heffer is as always good today and for the life of me I cannot understand why Cameron doesn’t agree to some kind of–not necessarily all-embracing– accommodation with Farage. Two very telling paragraphs from Heffer today are:

      Paste
      ………..in constituencies such as Thanet South, in Kent, where Nigel Farage has been tipped to stand and the incumbent Tory MP is standing down, there is nothing to be gained by putting up a novice Tory candidate against him when he could quite likely win the seat without having his vote split by the Tory.

      ……….In return, Ukip could decide not to fight seats where a Tory incumbent stands the best chance of defeating Labour.
      Unpaste

      What’s wrong with that??

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

        Postscript–And from what Heffer, and more so Hannan, says, the Conservatives have, despite what Cameron says, done similar a number of times before, once apparently under Churchill no less.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Nothing but Cameron’s heart and soul.

  9. alan jutson,
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    The most simple and fair system of payment for our roads would be to remove the road tax from vehicles and raise fuel duty a little to compensate.

    Then no tax dodgers to catch and prosecute, people pay by fuel usage/mileage driven, and a government department could be shut down.

    In addition, the rather silly idea of traffic management by obstruction, humps, cushions, chicanes and endless sets of traffic lights could perhaps be tackled to allow for free flow of traffic.

    We then need to get to grips with parking, instead of Local Authorities restricting parking spaces on new developments at the planning stage, perhaps we should encourage more parking with at least two off road spaces per dwelling being the norm.

    Likewise with retail and business development, with car parking spaces being related to expected visitor and worker traffic movements and parking requirement.

    Such simple procedures

    • alexmews
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Some very sensible ideas here. incl esp road tax / versus fuel duty.

      On flow: I often think the way the light cycles work in London is designed to irritate, dissuade and otherwise congest drivers off the road rather than to encourage traffic flow. and I say this as a cyclist who’d love fewer cars on the roads but, failing that, would prefer at least that everyone was moving.

      in my experience in central London during commute times – my average speed on a bike – 13 MPH. Cars are 5MPH or less.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        Indeed the light and environment areas are all designed to cause congestion.

        The speed of bikes is helped by them usually not stopping at red lights. As cyclists are fuelled by extra food intake, then they are not even very carbon efficient especially, for meat eaters. This despite what the government and BBC pretend.

    • Mark B
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Alan

      Most of the cost of your gallon is made up of tax of one sort or another. Please do not encourage them.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        About 70% of fuel is tax but not on electricity, even though electric cars are less efficient and heavily subsidised – all things considered it is bonkers.

        So why should tax payers running a clapped out (but more efficient) Ford Fiesta diesel pay for the wealthy and actors to get a new Tesla, Prius, Lexus or Leaf?

  10. JoolsB
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Never mind motorists, who will launch a manifesto for ENGLAND? A vote winner surely?

    • Mark B
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      If it was a ‘vote winner’ they would be all over it like the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Still no comments from you about the outcome of the EU elections. Is this because “loyalty and unity are the priorities over the next twelve months” and last night we had Heseltine on Newsnight and Clarke this morning on the Today programme? It wouldn’t do to be seen to be out of line with two of the most EU fanatics in the party you support. Just for good measure Blair was also on Today this morning rubbishing those who oppose the EU and telling us how we have to stay under its ever encompassing control. His self-appointed heir (Cameron) would be happy just before he leaves to see what can be conjured up with his masters in Brussels to put us back firmly in place. The minority of Conservative MPs who are truly EU sceptics have been lulled into silence and left the stage to the federalists. Despite this, you expect us to vote for your party which is determined to keep us imprisoned in the EU.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Blairism is what Parliament aspires to. A socio/capitalist state in which it is OK for left wing, ‘celebrity’ politicians to make millionaires of themselves.

      Politics for the politicians and not the people.

  12. John E
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I would be happy if the road surfaces were put back to the standard they were at ten years ago. And I don’t just mean sending a gang out with a bucket of Tarmac to “fix” the potholes, I mean proper resurfacing.
    I have been travelling around the South and the Midlands in the last few weeks and the road surfaces are appalling. There is a LOT of work needed.

  13. formula57
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    It is long past time that someone in politics spoke up for the motorist, treated as a cash cow in many budgets and as a menace otherwise. Thank you.

    Whilst your point on parking fines is sound, being “Parking charges should be like the BBC Licence fee – a debt you owe a public body, not a tax you have to pay. “</I), they should of course not be exactly like the iniquitous BBC TV tax since such charges should be paid only for the car park actually used, not also to some other supplier of a competing car park that is not used.

  14. Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Motorists are a cash cow for any public authority that can find a way of getting at the money.
    In spite of our local car park never being full, the parking charges have recently been raised to the disadvantage of local shops. Another stretch of road which previously had double yellow lines and where any motorists parking would have been fined for obstruction, is now considered a fit place to erect parking meters causing more chaos. One notes that the EU wants to fit all cars with some form of GPS so that they can be located, and a left think tank recently proposed motorists should be charged according to the types of roads they use and the time of day.
    At the same time, I’m unable to get any information as to when our councils might repair the potholes, some of which have had cones and barriers around them since before last Christmas.

  15. Graham
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    ‘But alas when the she woke the prince was still a frog’

    do stop dreaming JR and composing these fairy stories.

  16. Aunty Estab
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    What a lot of good sense,if we`d had more sensible thinking like this, instead of green issues & gay marriage the Conservative wouldn`t be in the mess it is now.

  17. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Some Freedoms For Motorists is a welcome aspiration, but to get anywhere there will need to be a fundamental change within the DfT, who are inherently anti-roads, particularly anti-motorist. You can see this in the policies they pursue and the inner workings of the Department as revealed by a trawl through their web site.

    Further, if the population continues to grow at the same rate as we have seen in recent years then the road system will be for ever be playing catch-up. And with a fixed landmass, the more space take-up by the road network the less space for everything else.

    I could add a very long list of desired freedoms for motorists, but let me offer just one: the freedom for the operators of the M6 Relief Road to set their own speed limit.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Well people do not want to spend all their lives sitting in cars they just want to get there – so less congestion means they get there and use less road time. Also we can have double decker roads, tunnels and flyovers at key pinch points. Get some proper engineers in and get rid of the anti car lunacy at the DoT.

  18. Mark B
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said;

    “Parking charges should be like the BBC Licence fee – a debt you owe a public body, not a tax you have to pay.”

    Nonsense ! You have a choice whether or not to pay parking charges, you have no such choice with either the licence fee (whether you watch the BBC or not) or, the road fund licence / tax.

    Very little of the monies collected by either fuel duty / tax or, the road fund / tax goes on the road. It goes into a big pot that you dish out to the various Departments to spend and waste.

    Parking fees are charged by private companies to individuals for the service they provide. Local Government also provide services with regard to motorists, like controlled parking zones (CPZ). However, councils like to impose these upon residence as they are a clever way of raising funds. If my local council wanted to make my area a CPZ, there is nothing I can do to stop them. This would be an additional tax imposed upon me. More state sponsored theft !

    Enough I say !!

  19. Roger Farmer
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    As I only visit the UK two or three times a year I am not qualified to say much on the subject of motoring for the last seven years. All I can say is that it appears more congested, restricted and expensive. The roads are a disgrace. I am more interested in giving my views on the recent elections. After all it is the topic of the moment and cannot be brushed aside.

    Well it is all over for the moment. Time for the politico snake oil salesmen to explain that it was not what it was, and that they came out of it smelling of roses. My analysis is somewhat different. I can accept that Nick Clegg took a great risk for his party and himself in entering a coalition for the sake of the country ,and is now enjoying the benefit. For me two things sank him and his party.
    1. His total uncritical support of all things EU, despite the evidence. It made him look foolish in both TV debates. He is now saying that he accepts that the EU has it’s faults. A tip to all politicians, accept that the political world is not a simple black or white. It is mostly shades of grey.
    2. His refusal to accept the verdict of the Boundaries Commission in a “Hissy” fit. Not the action of a liberal person with a belief in democracy. At that point he became just another political shyster.

    One can argue, and they will, that the Labour Party got more votes than the Conservatives, but for a party running up to a general election they are not convincing in any area. Unless they have a “Damacene Moment” they are intent on denying the UK electorate a referendum. Following their poor performance I see them sinking further in popularity. Not least because they have no contribution on the economy and a lack lustre leadership which looks pretty grim well beyond the persona of Ed. Milliband.

    Now we arrive at the Conservatives. Even after Sunday it would seem that neither Cameron or Osborne have got the message. The electorate do not buy into their meaningless platitudes of listening and acting. Their ability to act has been cut from beneath them by the EU. Immigration they see as the heart of the problem. Most of the influx from Europe come to work, contribute and add to our economy. The only weakness is in governments inability to deal with the few who come to pick pockets and ATMs. Governments self inflicted inability is the elephant in the room, membership of the political arm of the EU and it’s all pervading influence on the ability of the UK to govern itself. Cameron and Co do not seem to comprehend that at present 70% plus of UK legislation comes from the EU and is at best nodded through parliament and then left to some unelected quango to implement.

    There is only one way to concentrate the minds of those in Brussels. Invoke Article 50 and then enter into negotiations. The Cameron route will give us a camel when we need a horse, and the underlying discontent will continue. Possibly like you, and Nigel Farage, I want a Common Market not a Federal Europe. For the past ten years or more the unelected of Brussels have abused the population of Europe and are now receiving the whirlwind. The most affected of Europe’s people have told Brussels in a very democratic way that they have had enough. A fudge or lack of response will lead to civil disorder. Whether their reaction is from the left , right, or wherever is irrelevant. The reaction is the point.

    Europe is a great place, I live in it from choice, and many of my fellow citizens enjoy it for holidays. I find it very sad to see what the EU has done in many European countries. The unemployment in general and for youth in particular is destroying many countries. It is all down to the totalitarianism pedalled by Brussels.

    I hear today that Cameron, Hollande, and all the other PMs have been called to the headmasters study to explain themselves. No doubt they will cobble together a statement on excuses and inaction so that the evil experiment with peoples lives can continue. The meeting should be with the victors in this EU election. They are the only ones qualified to articulate the flaws in the EU experiment. Anything less will be a can kicking fudge which will lead to even more expressions of discontent.

  20. JimS
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    It would be interesting to know how much road capacity has been lost through bollards, chicanes etc.
    Here bus stops are being provided with ‘bus boarders’, pavement extensions into the roadway of about a foot. Must be fatal for cyclists and just enough to make it impossible for traffic to pass a loading bus from either direction.
    Nearby is an unused bike contraflow with a guarding bollard at its end just by the bus stop. That narrows the road enough to prevent overtaking a stopped bus and the tailed-back traffic then blocks the junction.
    In Birmingham a single-lane Bailey bridge controlled by traffic lights was replaced by a modern full-width bridge. The traffic authority then installed chicanes on either side. Again tailback traffic now blocks junctions and previously unrelated traffic movements.

  21. bigneil
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    What about the planned “black box” trackers on every vehicle so big brother EU can watch us by satellite every moment. Presumably people of “importance” will be exempt from this intrusion?

  22. a-tracy
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    You should also get together with the insurance companies more and look at accident black spots where lots of insurers money is spent paying out both in human injuries and it regular and serious car smashes. This would have obvious human benefits and help to curb the costs of ever rising insurance premiums.

    I have written to the council twice about two accident black spots I get fobbed off but time after time I see regular smashes and vehicles damaged with simple and low cost fix solutions.

    The M1 getting to Luton adds 45mins to 1 hour every trip between 7am and 10am, around Luton itself and from J12 but mainly J15 to J19 southbound. The government must know these pinch points when they plan all the extra houses around these areas as just one more example.

  23. Jagman 84
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    A swift way of improving the motorway congestion around the Birmingham area would be to buy-out the M6Toll. It is chronically underused (loss – making?) and would remove most of the M6 through traffic in the West Midlands. The expensively installed traffic management system is being deliberately used to create a “target speed” of 40 mph, even when lightly loaded. Is this more evidence of CO2 (plant food) reduction targets in play?

  24. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Which nation are you referring to here – are any of these matters devolved from the UK to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? If your proposals can be applied only in England by the UK parliament are you therefore not in fact preparing ideas for a Manifesto for England? I think you must say so now and with your future thoughts. You are a UK parliament MP only and not a Member of an English parliament as we don’t have one, so we need to know, I don’t think you would wish us to think you are taking England and the people of England for granted.

  25. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    While I welcome this breath of fresh air, it’s really only tinkering with the major problem which is the lack of a road building program.

    The vast majority of the population ( and voters ) travel by car rather than the train yet three out of the four major parties ( note that until the Libdems disappear up their own sanctimonious European cul-de-sac we are going to refer to there being four ) are planning to saddle us with a debt of almost £3,000 per household for a railway line that less than 5% of us will ever use.

    What we actually need are some new roads. In the South this means a South Coast Motorway, Dover to Southampton, a link between Southampton and Bristol, and a motorway between Southampton, Exeter and Cornwall and to convert the A34 into a full motorway linking the M3 to the M40.

    We also want more long haul flights from regional airports like Southampton, Bournemouth and Exeter. We don’t want to have to spend countless hours on a coach and then queuing at Heathrown and Gatwick.

    I’m sure that your supporters in other regions will have a similar wish list.

    I am a Conservative but the fact is that, while the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Labour are so London-centric and continue to insist on spending our money on vanity projects we don’t want and will never use, the one party that thinks differently will continue to attract support.

  26. Dan H.
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    There’s one of those Black Swan moments just around the corner with cars, you know. Google are making self-driving cars, which can drive without needing a person sitting in them. Once those become common, car parking offences will be come much rarer as the car can simply drop someone off, then go away and wait somewhere else.

    If electric cars ever become common and cheap, then this somewhere else will be an out-of-town charging station, and the car will be summoned entirely by smartphone at the user’s convenience. This is not science fiction; ALL of the necessary technology already exists!

    At this point, bus operators are going to slowly go out of business; ditto minicab and taxi outfits. Trains are also likely to become increasingly automated freight-only operations, especially when fully-automated motorway systems become common. Once again, the technology for this has been around for a while.

    What this will mean for politicians is that subsidising increasingly-useless trains will not be political good sense, whereas improving the electrical grid will be.

  27. Iain Gill
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It’s not enough.
    Pull through a red light to let an ambulance through and get snapped by a camera, then 14 days later get a ticket for your troubles and be unable to prove the ambulance was there if indeed you can remember the incident it was so long ago… you are 3 points down. How exactly did this help road safety? Not to mention the reduced time on amber they have set at many of the lights with cameras.
    The “safer roads bureau” aka another quango will misrepresent the law when sending the notice of intended prosecution, e.g. stating not knowing who was driving is not a defence… this is a straight lie as the Christine Hamilton case proved. Misrepresenting the law in order to pressure drivers to falsely admit guilt is Harassment and last time I looked Harassment was illegal.
    There are people around who have designed accident blackspot after accident blackspot but none have ever been in court for this. It is always the drivers fault even when its largely their obviously negligent roads design.
    The speed camera regime is nonsense. Banning people for driving safely while modestly over an arbitrary limit a few times is crazy. Police would never have stopped most of these drivers. Meanwhile the real dangerous drivers are left alone largely.
    The whole road safety regime has been high jacked by people who are politically anti-car.
    Speed limits should be set with reference to what skilled advanced drivers think about that bit of road, people who have driven significant miles, not be some nutty local councillor. Dropping a dual carriageway which has been 70 limit for years with no unusual accident record down to 40 or 30 limit is crazy.
    50 speed limits on the motorway supposedly for anti-pollution reasons is a disgrace.
    Letting foreign drivers off routinely while prosecuting British licence holders is in my view “fear or favour” which is against the polices number one order not to “show fear or favour” i.e. favouritism to one section of society over another. But again it goes on all the time.
    And so on

  28. Anonymous
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Yet again another Tory party promise abandoned – to decriminalise the driver. I suppose they have been if only through funding cuts to the police.

    Here is another subject which ought to include the extra 200,000 potential drivers we are adding to the roads each year but which we dare not mention because the subject is taboo.

    It makes a complete mockery of our CO2 targets and adds to congestion and parking problems in a big way.

    Why no mention of it ?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      yes immigration is a major problem.

      but so is the road thinning, chicanes, and other nonsense. thinning the main road from a city centre to the nearest A & E making it much harder for ambulances on a blue light run to get through is a disgrace.

      and yes drivers should be decriminalised, for instance 3 years of no points and no accidents should be added to your licence as negative points, its completely bonkers for someone with 30 years safe driving, an advanced driving pass, no points, to suddenly get 12 points in a few days going through the same hidden camera a few times. its not helping road safety.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      I could mention that the thousands of potential extra drivers taking to the roads each year are more likely to be caught drink driving, carry no insurance, own a motor vehicle in an unroadworthy condition and be involved in a fatal road traffic collision … but it seems it is considered racist in ConLibLab world to be concerned by or debate this point.

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        What any Traffic Cop show and the story is the same and confirms what you say, Kenneth.

        The abrogation of duty of our politicians to keep our people safe is disgusting.

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          watch

          • Kenneth R Moore
            Posted May 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

            Indeed it is a basic right to expect leading politicians to protect us from avoidable harm and they have failed.
            The pain of the friends and family of the those killed by drivers whose driving fails short of the standard expected in the Uk – it’s not a price worth paying for an open immigaration door.
            The pace of immigration is such that we have no idea who is driving on our roads and to what standard their driver training is at. There are too many newcomers to check and monitor them properly.
            To be honest the political elite disgust me.

  29. Bob
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    No word from the Prime Minister about the various election irregularities yet Mr Redwood?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I see Miliband on the TV promising to keep the immigration taps open, he may as well withdraw from the election. Why oh why the Conservatives are not openly ridiculing his lack of listening to the results of the election is beyond me.

  30. behindthefrogs
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    .Private motorists should be taxed a lot more heavily preferably through higher fuel tax so that the roads are freed up for public t.ransport and cyclists

  31. Matt
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Most parking is decriminalised – but why shouldn’t parking be subject to the rules of supply and demand? If it was really that profitable private companies would be falling over themselves to run car parks.

    Nearly all new roads are built with service strips for utilities’ equipment. However if the utility companies want to put their pipes and cables down the middle of the road the government legislation says they can. As they exist entirely for profit they will put them where they think it is most cost effective.

    More roads are needed but this has proved controversial in the past as so many are needed through the countryside the Conservatives strive to protect. It’s a dilemma.

  32. stred
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    The usual delays at the M25 Thames crossing will be reduced this year by the installation of a computer recognition system. Instead of putting cash in, drivers wil have to log on or phone to pay an increased toll of £2.50. They claim the money will be put to build another crossing. However, there is already no reduction of lanes fromthe motorway, so we don’t need one. Any political which promises to abolish these charges would gain very many votes from people who are being ripped off and delayed.

  33. PeterA5145
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I would also like to see a commitment to roll back many of the perverse, politically motivated speed limit reductions of the past couple of decades. All too often we have ended up with a wildly inconsistent mish-mash of speed limits which all too often are unrealistically low for the road in question, and bring the whole concept into disrepute.

    Also we need to abandon the “guilty until proven innocent” nature of speed camera prosecutions. This goes against a basic principle of justice. Unless proper identification evidence can be produced, as in any other criminal offence, speeding needs to be decriminalised and subject to a financial penalty only.

    The Coalition deserves credit, though, for the ongoing fuel duty freeze which has made a big difference to many cash-strapped households.

  34. Richard
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    You write :

    “When will a party take up the idea that utility pipes and wires should in future be buried in easily accessible conduits under the verge or pavement, with access points, so we do not have to dig up the main road every time a pipe or wire needs mending or improving?”

    This sounds like a great idea but :

    1) The access point covers will be stolen for their metal content.

    2) Easy access will make it simpler for thieves to steal any copper or other cabling. I have recently suffered 3 times in the last couple of years from the loss of telephone and internet for a week or more as a result of the theft of a main BT cable.

    3) These access points are ideal locations for terrorist bombs.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      BT (or any Telco) should not be allowed to install new copper cable, all new installations should be optical fibre. Not only is it faster, more upgradeable, and so on… its also got no value to the thief.

      We really are a Mickey Mouse country when many new Telco installations are being done with copper.

  35. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Rail users need a freedom manifesto too – from rip off charges.

    Why did it cost £48.00 for 2 return tickets from Crowthorne in Berkshire into London Waterloo last Saturday – about the same cost as the diesel used to travel from Crowthorne to York and back to York again . The train was reasonably full so I wasn’t subsidising unused capacity. The track and trains were pretty much as I remember them back in 1986 so I don’t believe the money is going into major investment on that line.

    Despite the various privately owned train companies it seems to me there is no effective competition on the railways. The operators have a captive market with customers with little or no choice over whether to use their service – particularly around London. I’d be interested to know if Professor Redwood has ever recieved a breakdown of where the cost of a typical ticket goes?.

    Why not just stop the pretence of an open market (as it doesn’t exist for passengers) and nationalise the rail operators to fall in line with the nationalised state of the track ?.

  36. Mike Perkin
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    On road repairs and utility companies, the policy should be as follows:

    – default to channel them under pavements not roads (but does that then make electricity cables more dangerous ?)

    – if they must go under the road, then schedule the roadworks ONLY WHEN two or more utiliites will combine their work and pay to repair the whole road (or at least a full half-width in one direction) rather than lay a narrow patch that we all know will result in potholes after the next winter

    – work with Local Authorities to get them out of the “patch-degrade-repatch-pothole-repair” cycle. They should resurface whole carriageways using that skimming technique more, to avoid the wasted funds going to defend legal claims for drivers and cyclists going into potholes

    – avoid at all costs having to raise and re-position kerb-stones (another gravy train for the construction industry) all in the name of resurfacing a road. Use the existing kerbs, skim off a couple of inches of the degraded surface and cover it over again, simples !

    – at a national level, stop using stick-on cats-eyes for roadworks which, when “burned off” after carriageway repairs, cause the road surface to degrade needing a full repair later. Total waste of money but great for the tarmac companies

    – and do more with early-finish bonuses or overrun penalties to reduce the time that repairs blight our road network

  37. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    This is an excellent blog. While we are on this subject, how many of you noticed the news story that the Highways Agency is perfectly relaxed about the deteriorating speeds on our motorways? It seems that if speeds are CONSISTENTLY less than the design speed and there is a railway alternative somewhere in the county, that’s OK.

    A land fit for old codgers. That’s what we are becoming.

    Just one example of public policy: After about 6.45 in the morning, the M3 from junction 6 (Basingstoke) to junction 3 (Bagshot / Guildford) is congested. Against this background, Hampshire County Council has steadily hatched out perfectly good highway capacity on the parallel A30 (the old trunk road) and inserted bollards in what used to be the outside line of a dual carriageway. Can anyone suggest a reason for doing this without widening the M3?

One Trackback

  1. By ybe.co.nz on June 15, 2014 at 6:11 am

    ybe.co.nz

    Some freedom for motorists?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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