Getting around to be more productive

One of the biggest barriers to improved performance by all of us is the inability to get around the UK by road or rail. Thursday was a great example. Trying to get from central London to the busy Thames Valley, you had to run the gauntlet of the tube strike, the intrusive roadworks to replace general road with cycle lanes in central London, the strike on Great Western railway and a blocked M 25. If you wanted to go to Kent there was Operation Stack to contend with, closing one of the main motorways.

If I ever get a clear run from home to my London office it takes just under one hour. I allow twice that for the typical daytime or evening journey. If I go door to door by walking and train it takes more than two and a quarter hours if all works well. The usual impediments to traffic means a car journey typically takes more than 100 minutes.

My inconvenience is not important, but it illustrates the frustration and difficulty all workers face as they seek to do their jobs. I deliberately take on far fewer meetings, events and speeches than I would like to do if they entail travel, as experience has taught me that advertised times for the journey rarely work out. A typical speech and questions outside London lasting 45 minutes to one hour takes 5 hours for the home counties and more than 7 hours for further away when you add in the two way travel time.

Electricians, plumbers, delivery drivers, professional service advisers making home visits and many others who rely on vans, cars and lorries to get to work have to book in fewer income earning calls to allow for their wasted time in traffic jams. To many self employed time is money – you have to spend more time in the jam and less time in productive remunerated activity. To employers employee time is money – if your employees have to spend time in traffic jams when out and about trying to their jobs, you have to employ more people and spend more to achieve the same end results.

The UK suffered a 13 year hiatus in new road construction from 1997. The Coalition government tried to stimulate new by passes and extra capacity on main routes, but it is all taking time to work up viable schemes, consult on them, get planning permission and let the contracts. Roads account for 85% of the travel but have not enjoyed their fair share of the transport budget. It is time to welcome the Chancellor’s idea that VED revenue ought to spent on roads.

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  1. Thomas E
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    I agree with everything in this post.

    I’d go further: we really need to build more infrastructure than the public finances can afford and so we need to find a way for private sector involvement in road building.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:32 am | Permalink


      The government has more than enough taxpayers money, its simply a question of choice and priorities as to where they spend it.

      We do not require toll roads, bridges and tunnels.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:35 am | Permalink


        You’re right. There is plenty of money for roads. Even if there weren’t, the government could borrow it at very low rates of interest or even create some more. There would be nothing wrong in their doing that, providing there were unused available resources and it didn’t cause inflation.

        However, the technology now exists for automated road tolling which didn’t exist 10 -20 years ago. In other words the govt doesn’t need cash booths – it can now all be done with automatic sensors.

        More tolling on bridges, tunnels and motorways may not be on your wish list, but that’s what you are going to get!

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink


          The Dartford tunnel now has automatic scanning and has caused chaos in operation.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          petermartin2001; “However, the technology now exists for automated road tolling which didn’t exist 10 -20 years ago. In other words the govt doesn’t need cash booths – it can now all be done with automatic sensors.”

          The technology certainly exists for sure, some might well wish to see it used, but would any government get such a Big Brother policy of mass state surveillance through parliament -or past the electors at the next election? I seem to recall the last Blair/Brown government wanted to bring in ID cards, and were also talking about GPS road pricing, it wasn’t only because of the 2007-8 financial crash that they lost the 2010 election you know, many who refused to vote Labour did so on that “NO2ID” protest ticket.

          Anyway we already pay a per-mile road usage charge, based on the fuel efficiency of the vehicle we choose to drive, it’s called fuel excise duty.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          The government have plenty of money but it is usually all spent blocking the roads rather than maintaining them or building new ones.

          Or building daft things like HS2 or subsidising pointless green crap.

    • hope
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      JR, off topic, it is reported today that Junker wants the UK to pay a contribution towards the greek emergency fund (ESFM). The Dutch president is reported that the agreement with Cameron in 2010 was a political accord not legally binding! sounds familiar to his recent cave about treaty change is required and now he accepts it will not happen.

      Secondly, the calamity duo in No. 10 and 11 think it was a good deal yesterday! Have they lost leave of their senses? I suggest both read Max Hastings article, or Nigel Lawson’s or Caroline Lucas they seem to be losing grip on reality to promote their fanatical EU dream.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      @Thomas E; “we really need to build more infrastructure than the public finances can afford and so we need to find a way for private sector involvement in road building.”

      Err, but such things like Tolls and “road pricing” are in effect public finances in much the same way as the public being able to move freely is a part of productivity, if some of the public can afford to pay a significant road toll then surely the majority can afford to pay an extra fraction of a penny on a litre of petrol or Derv. to fund such infrastructure?

      I’m open to other suggestions as to how PFI projects can otherwise recoup their costs and ultimately make a profit. Also I have read reports that the M6 Toll (BNRR) is not achieving its planned and expected traffic levels and thus income.

    • JJE
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I travelled on the Woolwich ferry for the first time today. It was quite restful, and free to use, which was good. But as we floated slowly across the river and I looked down towards Canary Wharf my thoughts turned to the Star Ferry across the harbour in London’s true twin city, Hong Kong, and I thought that I could not imagine anyone there putting up with this ramshackle service which took almost half an hour including the waiting time. They would have built a bridge or tunnel years ago.
      As we will have the Hong Kong metro operator MTR running Crossrail when it opens, perhaps we could tap next into the expertise of their road planners and operators?
      Or maybe what we really need to do is to emulate their energy, optimism, impatience, and can-do spirit.

      • Bob
        Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:43 am | Permalink


        “we could tap next into the expertise of their road planners and operators”

        On a trip back from Disco Bay to Kowloon two nights ago one bore of the tunnel was closed for cleaning The taxi driver said that this is always done at midnight and they alternated the bores each time so as not to cause inconvenience to the road users.

        Quite a stretch from my experience on the M40 in Warwickshire a couple of weeks back when they closed two lanes during the Friday evening rush hour to trim the foliage causing a 2½ hour delay in the process.

        We could learn much from places like HK, but as the saying goes“you can lead a horse to water…”

        • Jerry
          Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          @Bob; One big difference, the Dartford Tunnel has suitable fixed lighting already installed, the M40 doesn’t in any meaningful sense that would allow the work you suggest be done at night. Next you’ll be complaining that wads of money are being wasted due to installing fixed lighting that is only needed occasionally, or 2½ hour delays due to the erection of temporary lights at great expense during the day so that night work can be carried out during the night, work you have no idea as to why it can’t be done during the day!

          • Edward2
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            There are such things as floodlights Jerry
            They are used already at many outside evening events and on motorways and railtracks when they work at night.
            Often mounted on two or four wheel trailers they can be moved and set up near to where nighttime work is needed.
            They don’t take 2.5 hours to set up Jerry, you just drive them to a site and start up the built-in generator and voila, let there be light.
            I’m surprised you haven’t heard about them.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Jerry lives in the early 20th century I’m afraid. He’s woefully unaware of anything that has progressed in the last 75 years.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

            Edward2; Try reading what I actually said, I discussed the issue of flood lights, their problems and costs.

            @libertarian; I live in the real world and the current century thanks, unlike so many penny-pinching ultra-capitalists. You need to get out more, something at least politicians do I might add. When was the last time you saw work lights above or alongside a motorway unless they have been installed to allow night work – such lights are positioned for the benefit of the work in hand, not to assist drivers in the normal scene, in fact such lights (if poorly installed) can be a hazard to motorists.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            I did read what you said Jerry but I think you may have forgotten what you said so here it is:-
            Bob complained that “the M40 in Warwickshire a couple of weeks back….they closed two lanes during the Friday evening rush hour to trim the foliage causing a 2½ hour delay in the process”
            You Jerry then replied to Bob:- “One big difference, the Dartford Tunnel has suitable fixed lighting already installed, the M40 doesn’t in any meaningful sense that would allow the work you suggest be done at night”
            You also said “…2½ hour delays due to the erection of temporary lights at great expense during the day so that night work can be carried out”

            My response proved that temporary lighting can be cheaply and quickly errected so the work can be carried out at night thus causing less congestion and delays.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink


            You are so detached from day to day reality you can’t even follow a simple debate. We were in fact discussing doing night work on roads and YOU claimed this wasn’t possible. Ive literally just driven home from work at 9 pm following a meeting with 3 local MP’s and KCC discussing options for operation stack ( penny pinching ultra capitalism, . what are you waffling about, you need help) and there are road works in progress with lights exactly as Edward 2 described.

            So once again Jerry you are wrong. Roadworks are done on a regular basis at night using easily set up lighting.

            You really do struggle to stay on track don’t you. No wonder you feel more at home in 1939

    • Jagman84
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      If the M6Toll is anything to go by, it will be a failure. I cross over it on a daily basis and it often looks as if it is closed, such is the lack of patronage. M.E.L. , the operator had the option of receiving a monthly, usage-based fee but decided on toll booths. As the price has risen, the usage has fallen.

      • DaveM
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        It’s not through lack of trying though – every time I drive down the M6 there is a sign saying “Congestion on M6, M6 Toll clear”. Oddly enough though, by the time I get to the M6 the congestion seems to have gone!

        • Bob
          Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          @Dave M

          “by the time I get to the M6 the congestion seems to have gone!”

          Snap! and they’ve been playing that scam for years.

          Motorists pay more than enough in tax and it’s a scandal that the money is given away overseas while our infrastructure crumbles.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Well is has a “free” at the point of use alternative that is not much slower and can be quicker. If offers unfair competition just like the NHS and the “free” schools.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more. I remember what my other half had to put up with as a NHS doctor travelling into London each day from Gillingham. Mind you non London area MPs do not really have to put up with such hassle, as they have accommodation paid for. Its even better still for an MP when you can still claim it on expenses despite owning a property in London too. I suppose an all night sitting, mostly in a tax payer subsidised bar, is on a par with working through the night in A&E.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      How about sorting out mass migration to reduce congestion?
      Oh no. We can’t do that whilst we’re in the EU under freedom of movement.
      What about the other half of the equation from the rest of the world? No political will as the legacy parties want to remove any feelings of national identity from the English!
      We are the most over populated Country in Europe when will our political class catch up with the rest of us? Doctors appointment anyone?

      • Dame Rita Webb
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        The EU has not got anything to do with HMG’s decision to leave the borders wide open to the Third World. There are no Polish plumbers trying to break into the country from Calais.

        • Hope
          Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          The Govt. claimed 318,000 immigrants entered the UK last year, the population the size of Nottingham. The exquisite infrastructure for such an artificial increase in number was not provided and nothing of value achieved since Cameron promised his no ifs or buts false claim. As you know, these are estimates because Cameron after all this time has still not put in place a system to count people in and out of the country! Cameron’s false claims about the EAW do not make us safer either, quite the reverse. And the third world people you might be referring to easily find their way here after collecting their passports through Europe. The EU policy on asylum seekers and the like is a mess which affects the UK.

          • APL
            Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            Hope: “nothing of value achieved since Cameron promised his no ifs or buts false claim”

            Cameron has form as a liar. A leopard usually doesn’t change its spots.

      • Hefner
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        TA, Monaco, Gibraltar, Vatican, Malta, Guernsey, Jersey, San Marino, the Netherlands, and Belgium have a higher density than the UK. You know sometimes it is worth checking facts before writing.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

        @Timaction; “We are the most over populated Country in Europe”

        Didn’t realise you sent your comments from Monaco, how’s the weather…

        • Edward2
          Posted July 16, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          I think you will find Monaco is a princepality Jerry.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            I maybe wrong on this, the UN recognised Monaco as a country in 1991.
            The world’s second smallest at 2 square kilometers.
            Monaco refers to itself as a Princepality hence the confusion.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      @DRW; “I remember what my other half had to put up with as a NHS doctor travelling into London each day from Gillingham.”

      True if you are talking about Gillingham Dorset or Norfolk but I’m not sure he had much to put up with is you mean the Gillingham in Kent that had a reasonably fast electric service into London since mid 1939!..

      “Mind you non London area MPs do not really have to put up with such hassle, as they have accommodation paid for.”

      Not sure that is entirely true since the changed made post the ‘expenses scandal’, MPs now have to have constituencies a certain distance/travel time outside of London before they can claim for accommodation.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink


        As its you I feel like being a pedant , Gillingham isn’t in Kent , its in Medway. The train journey time is an hour and getting on at Gillingham means you have to stand all the way. Not sure why being electric has any baring on it.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; “As its you I feel like being a pedant , Gillingham isn’t in Kent , its in Medway.”

          If you want to argue a pedantic point then best state the whole unabridged facts, not just the tit-bit that ‘proves’ your rant. Gillingham is indeed administrated politically by the Medway unitary authority but both are in the ceremonial county of Kent (if not best you inform the Lord Lieutenant!…), thus Gillingham is in the country of Kent, but is politically independent of Kent County Council.

          You (and DRW) also seem to be unaware that Gillingham is served by trains that run via the North Kent line and HS1 into St Pancras.

          “Not sure why being electric has any baring on it.”

          It made a big difference in 1939, had DRW husband been commuting before then I would have had some sympathy!

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink


            As I said I was being pedantic. I know what Gillingham comes under I didn’t have to Google it. As always you try to change the goal posts to something quite unrelated. As I live, work and am engaged in a number of official capacities in Kent I can tell you unequivocally Medway is NOT in the County of Kent anymore than Bromley, Bexley and Bickley ( London Boroughs) are any longer in the County of Kent . The Lord Lieutenant of kent is an ancient ceremonial position. It has no more baring on things than the fact that I live in one of the Cinque Ports which is now 10 miles from the sea but is still ceremonially called a port!!!

            I haven’t ranted at all, I simply pointed out that commuting from Gillingham isn’t the doodle you made it out to be.

            What makes you think I don’t know about HS1? I said it takes an hour and you stand all the way…. Jerry dear boy I’m talking about HS1 you numpty. The average HS1 journey time from Gillingham to St Pancras is 1hr 6 min, the fastest is 51 mins

            Here you go duh

            As I said in another post Jerry try joining the rest of us in the 21st century this may come as a shock but its not 1939.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

            @libertarian; You were not being pedantic, you were trying to be misleading, to suit a rant against what I had said that was totally correct and you knew it was correct.

            Also you seem to want a personalised rail service and like having a rant when you don’t, yet you call me a numpty. Poor chap, you have to stand for an hour, some people have to stand for their entire 8 hour work shift, not only that but doing physical activity to. Yet you accuse me of not living in the real world….

            Also the point you miss is that you can not understand today without understanding yester-year, nothing about living in 1939 at all – as you would understand if you actually understood that what you suffer today in your commute is nothing compared to what people endured in the past. People like you could be travelling on HS1, have a reserved seat, starting station to destination in half an hour and you would still find something to complain about, that it isn’t fast enough (or is to fast as it doesn’t allow any meaningful work to be done, conversations to be had, the coffee to be consumed) or the seats are uncomfortable etc.

            Perhaps the real solution is HOSO working, why in this day and age do people like you have to travel at all, the sort of work you do can be done anywhere after all just so long as you have a fast IP connection. Even meetings can be via group conference calls, even via video links. Companies hardly need to exist in a physical office any more, just a virtual office.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink


            I can’t work out whether you lack the capacity to follow a logical debater or whether you just become obtuse when you are proved wrong.

            To recap 1. it isn’t me that commutes to London it was Dame Rita Webbs husband. 2 Gillingham is in Medway 3 HS1 takes an hour costs £50 return and you have to stand, Cjhilean coal miners having worse working conditions wasn’t anything to do with the debate.

            Where I live in Kent actually doesn’t have a railway station so its not possible for me to travel by train around Kent.

  3. Peter A
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Poor old Greece.

    Although the Greeks, for their refusal to pay taxes, are somewhat at fault in this, it is the EU and those cruel interests that drive incessantly towards the apocalypse of ever-closer-union that have driven Greece to its knees. So arrogant in their destiny are these beuracrats however, that hopefully they may have produced the most pyrrhic of victories.

    That the majority of Greeks should want to remain in the Euro should puzzle no one. Years of EU funded propaganda is one reason. The EZ policy which has seen the establishment of the myth of the money tree and dependency politics is another. So addicted to the unreformed teat of welfare excess are the Greeks that they have forgotten the value of work. The German Store Card with the excessive interest rates and inadequate due diligence, will soon yield up all those rights so valiantly defended in the war.

    • Mitchel
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      There was an alliance that promised to”act on the basis of justice,peace and love”,that would “consolidate human institutions and remedy their imperfections”and keep the European powers from warring with each other.

      The EU?…no it was the 1815 “Holy Alliance” between the Tsar of all the Russias,the Hapsburg Emperor and the King of Prussia and it snuffed out every expression of democratic intent on the continent east of France for decades.

      Plus ca change!

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink


      I see some of the press are reporting this morning that the UK may be up for a £1 Billion contribution to the Greek bail out, as the opt out previously agreed by Mr Cameron would not apply to this case.

      The EU it would appear, also suggest it will also go to a majority vote for all countries within the EU to contribute, Eurozone members or not, and no veto will be allowed.

      I wonder, if this is the case, will Mr Cameron argue against it and refuse to pay ?

    • hope
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Anything so called deal talked about yesterday will take Greece no further forward in paying of its debt, it is not possible. Even with imposed supervision, letting others take control of their assets or forcing them to change their laws. What it does show is the full spite of the EU dictatorship and not one sensible word from either Cameron or Osborne, nor are they grasping the opportunity to negotiate a better deal for the UK. I think it is clear to everyone there is no intention to negotiate anything substantive from the EU just enough for a spin and scare.

  4. Peter A
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:12 am | Permalink


    This generation lacks the imagination, get up and go and courage of the Victorian’s. We need a hub airport, two extra runways minimum but instead we will get only one; if it can be found in the long grass.

    The road network has been sacrificed to the religion of Greencrap. One look at the essential throughfare along the embankment in London, which is being destroyed for a cycle superhighway is a great example. Where from will come the jobs to peddle to and the money to buy all these bikes if there are no deliveries to companies and no access for those of us living and working in the real world?

    Being associated with the inadequacies of transport strategy etc in london I am furious about the strikes. For the uninitiated they are happening due to greed from tube drivers not working on the proposed night tube lines who want the same £2k payments as their colleagues on the affected lines. Baffled? Indeed!

    In short: ban unions. Force all regular foreign drivers in the UK to take the highway code. Get rid of Network rail. Stop HS2. Accelerate crossrail 2. Build a hub airport. Stop all the immigration , deport illegals. allow pvt companies to build toll roads wherever they deam most profitable

    • ksb
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Well said Peter!

    • turbo terrier
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Peter A

      In short: ban unions. Force all regular foreign drivers in the UK to take the highway code. Get rid of Network rail. Stop HS2. Accelerate crossrail 2. Build a hub airport. Stop all the immigration , deport illegals. allow pvt companies to build toll roads wherever they deam most profitable

      You left out all the green crap!!

  5. Richard1
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Absolutely, this is particularly true in and around London. Boris Johnson has been a failure as mayor in this respect – traffic, which was deliberately hampered by Livingstone for political reasons – has got worse. This is a huge blow to potential productivity, which does not get measured in any official stats. I even wonder whether if we had the road and rail networks working properly we actually need another runway at all? After all there are now 5 in London at international airports, but travelling between these airports is either impossibly long and complicated or very unpleasant. HS2 should be stopped and the proceeds used for a major upgrade in roads.

    • stred
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Cities like Vancouver have overhead railways, which run alongside and over roads from the airport to the centre. A fast ring railway following the M23, M25 and M11 would enable connector flights between Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Expansion at the latter two would make journeys from the rest of England via the centre of London unnecessary, reducing congestion for Londoners. But, money talks and we have to cram into Heathrow according to £20m worth of experts.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Yes possibly. Howard Davis is a professional guy so one hopes he has done a thorough and dispassionate job in analysing this. I can’t be bothered to read it all and I don’t suppose most members of the public can. But we do look to MPs and the committees of the House of Commons to ensure an economically rational decision is made.

        • stred
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          The economic growth that made Heathrow the favourite is probably driven by the fact that airports like Heathrow have become shopping centres. The more people are lead around past shops and restaurants the better. And if somone from the Midlands or the South or West has to go into London and out again then there are other sales opportunities on the way.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Indeed and the 85% by road is after the tax huge subsidy bias against road use, the motorist muggings, the deliberate road blockings, the lack of road space and bridges, underpasses, overpasses needed. On a level playing field it wood be even higher.

    Of course the inefficient state in general hugely harm productivity, the delay and incompetence or the NHS, the poor schools and universities, the daft employment laws and legal system, the slow irrational planning system, the absurd and complexity of the tax system and a bloated state sector delivering little of true value. So Osborne addresses none of this he just tells employers to pay more and increases taxes by £ 6? Billion while making the tax system even more complex and irrational. He continues with much of the bonkers gren crap and hs2, continues to attack pensions, dividends, landlords (and thus tenants) and continues enlarging the parasitic state sector, and parasitic jobs in tax advice etc.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      The plumbers etc. are also likely to me mugged for £80 while unloading their tool too, thus adding yet another tax to their customers’ bills. While decreasing productivity yet further.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Not just the roads they block either. I have just arrived back from Italy this afternoon (through Gatwick) and there was a snake of people nearly a mile long (for the EU/UK passports). I took nearly half an hour to get through. I asked why and was told they were busy as it was summer and it was not her department! Perhaps they were not expecting summer, they clearly know exactly how many people to plan for but just do not bother to. They just have to ask the airlines for occupancy rates after all.

      After the half hour wait it took just 5 seconds for her to zap the passport.

      Needless to say there was a sign saying no photographs and no abuse. Perhaps some abuse is exactly what the top managers need or just firing.

      Another 15 minutes wasted queuing to buy a rail ticket there, due to insufficient working machines or staff. All in if took almost as long as the flight from Italy.

    • Hefner
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      Easy to blame the “state”. The Highway Agency is giving the work to private companies, more often than not, to Balfour Beatty. They are the ones who slow down the traffic over 10 miles to repair one bridge, or 15 miles of the M3 since November 2014 to widen from three to four lanes.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink


        You are seriously trying to tell us that the Highways Agency don’t dictate how the project is done, the terms of reference and health and safety regulations? Dream on feller . Or are you telling us that the HA are so incompetent that they can’t manage their subcontractors?

        • Jerry
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; re HA contracts. Why own a dog if you are going to bark yourself, if you do than many of the reasons for owning a dog are gone!

          • Edward2
            Posted July 15, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

            I’m baffled by your obscure dog metaphor Jerry
            Libertarian is correct.
            If you want to win a contract to do work on the nation’s road networks you have to conform to the safety procedures for traffic management laid down by the Police and Highways Agency.
            They require contractors to place speed restrictions and lane closures onto roads where building work is being done.
            You have to conform to their requirements.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink


            Thank you for your umpteenth post showing how you have no idea about business. Anyone who has tendered for and won a taxpayer funded contract knows that the terms and conditions are dictated by the awarder of the contract and are policed strictly ( this is as it should be of course as its public money being spent)

          • Jerry
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; For goodness sake, stop arguing for the sale of it. A Minister of State is not legally responsible for the H&S policies and working practises etc. of a government contractor.

            Also contractors are often given a wide scope as to how they do the job, due to price being more important to governments since 1979 than other factors such as disruption. No one is suggesting that there are never times when explicit requirements, such as only working between 10pm and 6am, are a part of a tender/contract agreement but they are the exception not the rule. Also a LOT of work away from motorways have nothing directly to do with the Highways Agency, government nor local government. Of course before so many of the utilities were sold off to private investors such state owned and run could be micro managed by government in the way people like you seem to want…

          • Edward2
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            You are demonstrating your complete lack of knowledge Jerry
            Some of us have family members who are actively involved in these projects and have been for many years.
            I repeat, if you do roadwork contracts there are quite correctly local restrictions on the hours you can or must work and you have to follow nationally agreed procedures on lane restrictions, speed limits and general safety items.
            The Police, the Local Authority and the Highways Agency all have an input into what you have to do.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink


            Stop talking abject nonsense for the sake of it. You are completely totally and utterly WRONG.

            What the hell has a Minister of State got to do with anything , we are talking about the Highways Agency.

            My father ran a construction company sub contracting from local authorities and quangos. The terms and conditions ran to pages and pages and pages of regulations, clauses, stipulations, penalties for not following guidelines. You are totally clueless.

            Here you go Jerry, read all this then come back and apologise


          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; @libertarian; Stop making assumption as to what you think (hope) I said. I have nothing to apologise for, unlike the both of you.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

            Being completly wrong in your original post would be one reason Jerry.
            But as you never concede you might be wrong I do not expect anything other than more pedantic wriggling from you.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            @Edwartd2; But that is the point, if you (and libertarian) actually tried to follow the debate rather than just try and find an argument in what ever I say all the time you would understand that I am not wrong.

            Even the link libertarian gave says that “Highways England will assess health and safety information as part of their pre-qualification process.” i.e.not that Highways England will be micro-managing health and safety for the contractor DURING the day-to-day work involved in carrying out the contract. If the company applying/tendering satisfies the requirements at the application stage they are deemed to be suitable to manage H&S requirement.

            Oh and there can’t be “pedantic wriggling”, it is or it isn’t, fact or no fact, or in this case citation (thanks libertarian)… 🙂

          • Edward2
            Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:14 am | Permalink

            More pedantic nonsense from you Jerry.
            Not even worth a proper reply.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink


          Give it up son. You’ve been proved wrong. Jeez man you can’t even understand written English. ITS A PRE QUALIFICATION process that means Jerry its the MINIMUM you have to have before you even start TENDERING for the job let alone doing it. Edward2 and I both have experience directly of having done this for real, in the real world. YOU ARE WRONG. If you had bothered to even read all of the link you would see on page one of StART guidelines it even specifies the font size ( its 10 in case you’re wondering) and the number of pages that can be used ( 12) To begin the project submission process. If thats not micromanagement I dont know what is.

          I’ve now also provided you with the Strategy document set out in 2008 from the HA as to how they intend to work with their subcontractors to ensure effective Health & Safety

          etc ed

  7. matthu
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    VED revenue ought to be spent on roads. As ought road fund licence. And petroleum tax.

    NI tax ought to be spent on pensions. Insurance tax on … I forget now … improving our flood defences? Sugar tax on supporting the NHS like tobacco tax before it. Carbon tax should be saving us from global warming.

    Pull the other one. VED revenue is simply yet another tax on the motorist that will ultimately be absorbed into general taxation used to support the state and EU in the style to which they have become accustomed.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Reading Borough Council, according to the BBC(red button local news Berkshire), are thinking about introducing a Red Route because they are desparate for money. It reports that, this wizzard wheeze will raise £100,000 in it’s first year with fixed penalty fines.

      John, do you agree with me that, when the criminal justice system is used as little more than an extension to HMRC, both are brought into disrepute?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        They certainly are “brought into disrepute” and it tends to makes the people regard the state as their enemy or mugger. The systems are clearly so often designed just to maximise fine revenues.

        It is also a very inefficient way to collect taxes with all the cost, signs, lines and staff needed plus the inconvenience, costs, loss of business and high blood pressure thus caused to the “muggees”. These costs can easily exceed the sums raised.

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink


        Legal mugging within the rules, that is now what we expect as the norm from governments, both National and Local I am afraid.

    • stred
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      If Oz and Cam think it’s a good idea to alter the rules and include the amount for some spying and security in the budget for the armed forces, don’t be surprised if they include policing. These two are as trustworthy as the Greeks doing the same job.

  8. Mark B
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    There are simply too many people in London and the South East. This needs to change. There are other parts of the UK that are virtually people free. Why not encourage investment in these areas.

    Also, we need to reduce the number of both EU and non-EU immigrants into the country. The former we can still do but the latter requires the Govenment looking at the rules of the EEA more closly and appliying them. Freedom of movement for ‘workers’ is OK, not those looking for free handouts etc.

    Building homes in London only to be sold to Chinese and other foreign invetors is driving people further out. This means they have to ‘travel in’ to work. This creates congestion, stress, and loss of hours and productivity. The UK government should pass a law requiring that no more than a certain percentage of UK homes in London and the South East, say 5%, can be sold to overseas buyers. This means more UK and EU Citizens (we cannot discriminate due to the Maastrict Treaty) can buy a home in the UK.

    If foreign (non-EU) investors want to buy UK property they can, just not in London and the South East.

    This will in time slowly reduce the housing bubble and allow people to buy a home closer to where they work, thereby reducing traveling times, costs and allowing them more free income to spend in the wider economy, creating growth and more jobs.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      Opps ! Sorry, I meant the latter we can still do.

    • Graham
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      There are too many people everywhere it’s not just the South.

      The second language in Hull these days is Polish.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        @Graham; “The second language in Hull these days is Polish.”

        So, the second language on much of the Spanish Costas these days is English (followed by German). That also applies to many a bar and shop owner to. Your point being what?…

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B; “There are other parts of the UK that are virtually people free. Why not encourage investment in these areas.”

      That sort of socio-economic planning was tried in the 1950s and ’60s with very mixed results, some such ‘enforced’ relocations (or the creation of satellite factories etc.) directly lead to the collapse of the whole company. The Roots Motor Group and their enforced new factory at Linwood, Scotland, rather than being allowed to build closer to their base at Coventry is a good example.

      You either have a socialist styled planned economy or you have a free market capitalist economy…

    • JJE
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      My other thought while drifting slowly across the Thames on the Woolwich ferry today was to wonder who lives in all these flats that are being bought by the Chinese and Hong Kong investors? If they are being rented out to Londoners then fair enough, but if they are being kept largely empty as I suspect then that’s a problem. Perhaps a tax on unoccupied residential properties might help?

      • Bob
        Posted July 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        UK property prices look very cheap to HK investors.

  9. nigel
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I visited our local hospital yesterday for an appointment with a specialist. Despite having a fixed time for the appointment, the specialist arrived an hour late (having been in a meeting). As the arrangement was under the auspices of the NHS, I had no choice.
    How many hours of potentially productive time are lost by situations like this?

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      @nigel; “As the arrangement was under the auspices of the NHS, I had no choice. How many hours of potentially productive time are lost by situations like this?”

      Of course you (probably) have no idea what the “meeting” was about, anything from what brand of coffee should be ordered next to what treatment is best for that critically ill person in the ICU. I know of people who have suffered similar delays even though seeing the specialist as a private patient, not even via a pre-paid health insurance scheme. Sometimes we just have to accept that delays occur.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink


        You are of course correct in your technical appraisal , but as normal you missed the point, Nigel didn’t comment on why it happened he just made the absolutely correct point that its situations like this that kill productivity . Which is also JR’s point. The anti car behaviour of local councils, closing of car parks, makes journey times longer and harder. One local Kent Council has sold off 600 car park spaces AND closed some bus routes into the City. These failures and other similar mismanagement are partially the cause of low productivity

        • Jerry
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; No, it is you who missed the point, yet again, Nigel was just having a rant at the expense of the NHS.

          Productivity in general could have been very good, even though Nigel’s wasn’t on that single day, if his delayed meeting resulted in a saved life, meant that someone was prevented from having an extended stay in hospital, or that otherwise unnecessary medical care for anything up to the next 70 years was prevented that would then adversely effected the productivity of the NHS and the UK economy as a whole for the same length of time. Sometimes productivity needs to be measured by the long view, not a sundial.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink


            Er take your own advice the long view would be the totally accumulated time spent waiting in A& E , GP’s Surgeries and for late running appointments is the point Nigel was making. It is a fair and correct point. Your guess that it was delayed for important reasons may or may not be correct in this instance but does not alter the fact. Other countries such as Germany and France don’t seem to suffer the same problems on the same scale in their health provision. Maybe its poor resource planning and management. To dismiss an obvious fact because YOU think Nigel was having a rant is symptomatic of the poor thinking and analysis skills you regularly demonstrate

          • Jerry
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; Nice anti NHS rant, yet again. Trouble is, even private patients, outside of the NHS, outside of the UK, suffer such unavoidable delays.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink


            Really? Provide some evidence. Not according to the World Health Organisation . Its nothing to do with “ranting” against the NHS its the productivity impact we are discussing are you so dim that you can’t grasp the simple fact that waiting for anything whilst one should be working has an impact on productivity?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            @libertarian; Stop talking utter crap, you only need to look at the USA to understand about lost productivity due to their failing health service – yeah if you have money, if you have a corporation to pay your medical insurance you are fine and dandy but how many people in the USA are living economically unproductive lives because they are basically too ill to work, not having access to the correct, proper, best treatment/drugs.

            Your intent seems always to rubbish the NHS, why I have no idea but I suspect that you have some vestige interest in private health care that would thus benefit from even a French or German style Health care system.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 17, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink


        Thanks AT LAST you confirm what we were both saying, but rather than ranting about USA etc why not just say, YES I agree that waiting for missed appointments is a drain on productivity.

        The NHS does a good job of rubbishing itself. However I have no vested interest in the health care system ( I do part own a small drug company but we don’t supply the NHS or any other health care provider being purely a research based organisation).

        The French and German ( both taxpayer funded ) are far far superior to the NHS, both of them being locally based rather than centrally , top down controlled. Just so you know I happen to think free at the point of use health care is the best way to deliver health care, funded by the taxpayer and I think the NHS should be scrapped as not fit for purpose and replaced with a patient focused bottom up system er just like in France and Germany in fact.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Not only that endless operations are cancelled at the last minute and delayed for many months often preventing people working. It is how the, rationed at the point of use or non delivery, NHS “works”.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        @LL; “Not only that endless operations are cancelled at the last minute”

        Sill me, and there I was thinking that those in the most need, such as those who need life saving surgery get to use the operating theatres as a priority, never mind those patient already in surgery with earlier operations who suffer complications, how inconsiderate of them all!

        • Ted Mombiot
          Posted July 16, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          You are assuming Jerry, the only reasons planned surgery is cancelled is because an emergency or life saving operation has been pushed in the queue.
          Hence another sarcastic comment from you.
          My experience over the years for myself and other family members who have had an operation cancelled is this is only one reason.

          Others include overuns on previous operations,repairs and maintenance to equipment, strikes on transport networks leading to staff turning up late, sudden closures of motorways leaving staff stuck in a traffic jam, power failures in the room, sickness and unexpected absence of staff, lack of proper planning and communication between staff, no reserve staff available, admin mistakes creating double bookings in one operating theatre, late delivery of test results and scans and x rays and a failure of the patient to turn up for day stay appointments or to adhere to pre-op requirements such as nil by mouth.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            @Ted Mombiot; I totally agree, and yes I was being sarcastic towards Nigel and LL. I just get feed up with people who take cheap shots at the NHS, the Highways Agency etc. simply because they have been (personally) inconvenienced yet know nothing of the real reason why.

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            “I totally agree”

            Jerry I am shocked.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 10:07 pm | Permalink


            ” I just get feed up with people who take cheap shots at the NHS, the Highways Agency etc. ”

            says the man that takes cheap shots at everything that isn’t a centralised government department. Jerry minor civil servants like you really do need to get out more. Travel the world a bit son, find out how other countries provide far superior public services often at far less cost to the taxpayer.

          • Bob
            Posted July 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink


            “says the man that takes cheap shots at everything that isn’t a centralised government department. Jerry minor civil servants like you really do need to get out more. Travel the world a bit son, find out how other countries provide far superior public services often at far less cost to the taxpayer.”

            Well said!

  10. agricola
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    How about video conferencing. It is possibly twenty years since I have had experience of it so I would have expected it to become cheaper and more versatile. Maybe you feel you have to press the flesh and eat the sticky buns, but on occasion it might cut down on your frustration with travel.

    True it has been a sick joke comparing VED, Tax on Fuel, VAT on vehicle purchase, myriad Fines on motorists, with the abysmal amount spent on roads. From experience ,rest assured, Europe does it better. Return visits to the UK emphasise it. Trains and Tubes have a function but are not of much use to white van man or anyone who needs to travel door to door on business. Why are we allowing ourselves to be seduced by HS2, a Dome on a bigger scale.

    On numerous occasions I have pointed out that city workers could just as easily sit behind computers at home rather than travel. I was acquainted with a man who ran his business in West Bromwich with video links and computers from his villa in Majorca when he chose to be there. Government has not woken up to this basic truth as yet.

    Like it or not, if you persist in increasing the population by 318,000 per annum, it is bound to have an effect on your ability to get around. Just as it has a negative effect on just about every other public service. You cannot play catch up at such an unsustainable rate.

  11. Jerry
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    “The UK suffered a 13 year hiatus in new road construction from 1997.”

    Add at least another 10 years hiatus before that as Mrs T’s government started the “green crap” religion that kicked in by using such concerns to find public expenditure savings. For those of us in the south, needing to travel between Devon and Kent we got 1/8th of a bypass (200 yards of unused duel-carriageway at Arundel) on the one and only main east-west trunk route -the A27- whilst in other contentious [1] or difficult areas little if anything was done (Worthing and Chichester, both needing proper northern bypasses), whilst little was done east of the excellent Brighton bypass [2] and modest improvements west of Bournemouth on the A30 and A31. Even when new roads were built, the 1979-97 Tory government often only did half a job with either poor -read cheap- design or construction, often both meaning that either the roads remained congested or some people simply chose not used it due to construction flaws making their use less than inviting, such as no hard shoulders even though the twin dangers of soft verges and high speed traffic exist should a vehicle break-down.

    “Roads account for 85% of the travel but have not enjoyed their fair share of the transport budget. It is time to welcome the Chancellor’s idea that VED revenue ought to spent on roads.”

    Indeed, but how about adding fuel duty to that ring fence too?

    [1] lots of wealth and Tory voters

    [2] which proved that difficult desiccations in both planing and design could be achieved if money was available to actually solve the problems rather than just make it look like politicos have their fingers on the pulse when they don’t

    • acorn
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      According to the last PESA, government spent £8.3 billion on national and local roads, £2 billion less than the last Labour government. VED raises about £6 billion and will be ring-fenced to the roads budget.

      Perhaps the £6 billion will be added to the £8.3 billion, that will be good. You could get about 180 miles of extra average cost Motorway for that. Whoopie. Think what we could get with the £27 billion of fuel duties!!!

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      I would also add re “Operation Stack” that other countries would likely have planned differently, probably a second motorway (why not finish the M2 ?!) or at least provide a proper lorry park to supplement those available at the ports and Eurotunnel and it would have been done years ago.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink


        The number of motorways isn’t the problem. The M2 /A2 is left open while lorries are parked up on both carriageways of the M20. Its the lack of lorry parking thats the problem . One lorry park isn’t nearly sufficient. We need DOZENS, trouble is land left standing idle in South East of England will get you loads of grief from the other pressure groups. The government leave it up to KCC and they can’t afford to solve the problem on their own. We have suffered the appalling consequences of Operation Stack for years. It spills over into all the A and B roads for miles around. It took me 3.5 hours to get home on a normally 40 minute journey and I don’t go anywhere near motorways to make my journey such is the massive gridlock . During this latest episode the M20 was turned into car parking from Junction 7 onwards, Thats West of Maidstone in Mid Kent all the way to Folkestone. Thats 39 miles of motorway of 3 lanes each direction . Thats how many vehicles need to be parked, sometimes for up to a week. Then the drivers have to find food/water and toilet facilities. It took a full 24hours to get water to stranded drivers this time. It isn’t a remotely easy situation to fix. It is causing enormous damage to the productivity and economy of Kent though.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; You are saying that there is no solutions, utter tosh [1], but if you are correct best the people of Kent get used to “Operation Stack” then and stop bleating. Nothing we do or say will stop strikes and the such in another country, unless of course you want the UK government to start telling another Sovereign nation how to run their political affairs – hmm, sound familiar…
          Of course we could; always encourage such road freight onto the railways, but what then, whilst the rail unions might be prevented from striking in the UK their “brothers” across the channel will have nothing to stop them, from delaying or halting our freight.

          Why can’t the now closed Manston runway and apron be used as a lorry park, at least for now (could get a lot of trucks on that runway…)? The terminal buildings etc. could be used to provide facilities for drivers such as cafeteria, toilets and perhaps even over-night lodgings for those without full sleeper cabs. What is more this would not effect the fabric of the runway and thus it would preserve it from being lost, at least until the questions over London airport expansion has been settled.

          Carry on with your ultra-capitalist can’t do that attitude libertarian, just stop trying to put anyone down who doesn’t share your tunnel view as to what can be done if we really really wanted to change the UK for the better.

          [1] otherwise why do the UK/French think they can provide secure parking for trucks destined for the UK but stuck in northern France.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            Oh dear Jerry

            Once again you demonstrate for all to see that you have no grasp what so ever of the day to day reality of life and business. I didn’t say it couldn’t be fixed I said it was difficult and the reason its difficult is because its the government/public sector thats involved ( free market solutions would have solved this years ago).

            For your information Jerry this weeks operation stack was implemented because of the RAILWAY problems through the tunnel , a number of illegal immigrants sadly died again trying to enter the country underneath Hi speed trains.

            Last weeks was due to a fire in the tunnel

            Why don’t you give you suggestions to the politicians. You really are a deluded fantasist , we’ve had this in Kent for more than 20 years, do you not think this and dozens of more useful suggestions than yours have been put to government .

            Lots of people have suggested Manston as a lorry park. You do know that Manston is privately owned? That the owners are in dispute because they want to build houses on it? You do know that the government turned down a call to compulsory purchase Manston. Come on Jerry you must know all about this, you and the public sector bureaucrats in charge of this must understand all of the parameters surely?

            Operation Stack isn’t just about striking French Port workers.

            Any problems which cause the tunnel or ferries to stop running causes stack to be implemented. During operational closures there are 89 lorries per mile to park during most incidents, normally around about 4,000 lorries. Of course none of this takes into account cars, vans, caravans ( in holiday season) as well , plus all the local traffic.

            The French side doesn’t suffer from this as much because as anyone who has driven on a French motorway knows every couple of miles theres a toilet/car park service area. Thats all we need here about a dozen different parking areas along the route from the Dartford Bridge. KCC can’t afford to do it and the government won’t fund it. That is simply where we are

            Jerry steer clear of topics that you don’t have the remotest clue about.

            Jerry you couldn’t change your own underwear without help let alone the UK for the better. You just argue for the sake of it and as your position is ALWAYS the state knows best you are continually and easily proved wrong by the day to day reality.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        They do not appear to have what you suggest in Calvin Jerry. That is in another country.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 16, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        Operation Stack was implemented again yesterday. Junctions 7-13 of M20 closed this morning.

        This is insanity , if you want to know why we have low productivity its because of the mess government national and local has made of road infrastructure. Politicians are anti car, no matter what the damage. I saw a report yesterday that a small town in Wales had suffered car parking payment machine damage & were unable to charge people to park. Local retail business reported a 50% rise in taking during the outage. Meanwhile Conservative Canterbury City Council are selling off 600 car park spaces , cancelled park and ride and bus services through Westgate and have now granted planning permission to build an office block on the railway station car park. Oh and they’ve levied a supplemental charge of £300,000 to be spent on encouraging more people to visit the city. Where do they find these buffoons ?

  12. alan jutson
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    You outline the faults and allowances you have to make with travelling anywhere now perfectly.

    Yes all for spending more on the roads, but why complicate VED yet again, just scrap it and put 3 pence a litre on fuel.
    Then no need to police the road tax payment at all, as you cannot evade/avoid it.

    Tax is then paid on road usage by fuel consumption, thus people know in advance the penalty or benefit of their choice of car/transport.

    Those who do little milage pay less tax than those who use the roads (and wear them out) rather more.

    So, so simple.

    Perhaps that is why it will never happen.

    • turbo terrier
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Well said Alan

      For the life of me cannot understand why The Chancellor wants to keep punishing the luxury car market has no one told him there is a company called JLR?

      If people want to drive big luxury cars let them and let them pay through fuel tax. All this green crap will bring about the demise of companies like JLR.

      Whatever happened to freedom of choice.

      Get the old bangers off of the road.

      All the classic cars tax exempt with terrible emissions, what is it all about?

      You only pass this way once if you want it and can afford it HAVE IT!!!!!!!

    • Know-Dice
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Great idea, but much too simple for any reasonable government to get their heads around…of course it also means that all those foreigner lorries pay something as well 🙂

      You could also add in third party insurance – I bet the insurance companies would sign up for a slice of that cake…

  13. alan jutson
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Off topic


    Further to my mail to HMRC on 9th July 2015 with regards to requesting clarity of the above Budget subject.

    I have now received a reply from HMRC who say that as yet they are completely unaware of the detail of the changes to IHT, as a second reading of the bill is still to go through Parliament, later this week.

    They confirm that the principle is to maintain the present £325,000 limit until 2021 (same rate now for 15 years)

    That the Primary house Residence rate of £100,000 is proposed to be introduced in 2017 rising by £25,000 per year until it reaches £175,000.

    Thus the tax will be in two parts.

    Can I please ask you (and others) to try and make sure that there is flexibility to merge both funds so that we do get a flexible total allowance, because if we start to separate the Property element from the cash and other assets , millions of people will actually be worse off than before, as most people are property rich and cash poor, and as such will not be using all of their £325,000 allowance if property is not included in this element.

    Why, Why, Why cannot politicians keep it simple.

    Why does it all have to be so bloody complicated !

    Yes I know complication often leads to more money being collected.

    But be TRUTHFUL if that is what they want !

    • hope
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I think you answered your own question, namely, …millions of people will be worse off than before.. Cameron is all hot air and no substance.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Osborne even absurdly claimed he was “keeping a promise”. He actually promised a £1M threshold (each he implied) made 8 years ago did he not? This is an absurd & complex not even half measure. It does not even start until 2017. Lots of more pointless jobs for tax consultants and lawyers. Lots more loss of competitivity for the productive.

  14. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    What is Cameron going to say about SNP’s stinking hypocrisy over the hunting issue and vote? They are continuing to pursue an anti-English agenda, when is he going to get some backbone? Is he so determined, with the Queen looking over his shoulder, to preserve the Union that he will let this pass somehow and roll over again?

    As I have asked before – what is the point of the Union? How can it be defended in the face of such anti-English hatred being demonstrated by the SNP and the Scots in general through them? How can it be supported?

    They are walking all over EVEL as I forecast they would. So much for their promises not to vote on purely English issues – does the Union with Unionists come before everything – they are making fools of all unionists, who was fool enough to believe them? So much for a easy amendment to Standing orders, Cameron has already conceded on it.

    Who will say enough, more than enough? The must be a true English parliament, and this means the end of the Union so be it. The Scots will then be forced out on their own, they daren’t do it themselves.

  15. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Have to agree with all you say John.. I used to live in Sussex and the traffic was abysmal. According to our friends and as experienced when we travel back it has got much worse. It is virtually total gridlock at certain times and getting in and out of supermarkets on the A27 is a total nightmare. Chichester is congested, Arundel, Findon, Sompting. The list is endless. There was talk of major road improvements through Durrington and the MOD bought up loads of beautiful homes but then the road improvements never went ahead and the homes were put back on the market at knock down prices and now the area has been trashed. They are still talking about improvements but nothing happens. Arundel is the same. Talks have been going on for decades now but nothing!! How much money is spent on talking about this when economics rule that doing something will improve things? I spoke to a white van man in one of the filling stations in Chichester and I asked him how he managed. He told me that he had to drive from Brighton to Chichester every day and said he was completely stressed out before he had even started work. The motorways are a nightmare. I was on the M6 by myself and my car started to give out warning chimes. I was in a complete panic as the hard shoulder was being used by other motorists and I dreaded breaking down and being involved in an accident. It is unacceptable and I agree that HS2 should be scrapped and road improvement is essential.

  16. MickN
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Good Morning John,

    Off topic I know but if the SNP votes against the amendments to the hunting act tomorrow, an issue that does not effect Scotland where they have their own act and it is defeated could we have your thoughts please on how far we are along the road of EVEL and when we can expext fairness to prevail in Westminster.

  17. DaveM
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    We’ve now got Sturgeon directing SNP MPs (and possibly causing a government defeat over an English and Welsh only matter) when she’s not even an elected MP.

    We have a PM who is determined to give up our sovereignty in (what I can only guess) is self-interest.

    We have a Chancellor who is so obsessed with the defecit and debt that he will massage various budgets to achieve it. I say “massage” – if I was speaking plain English I’d say “lie” and “deceive”.

    We have enemies of our state walking around our capital with IS flags and police so pathetically hamstrung by Human Rights laws that they can’t stop it. That man could have had a vest strapped to him – these people don’t care if they kill their own kids – I know, I’ve seen it happen.

    A huge chunk of the people who voted for your party in May voted for a fair (and most presumed impartial) EU referendum. They also voted for EVEL in some shape or form, and hoped that a bit of traditional Tory national interest in security for OUR nation might resurface somehow. And as a reminder, the vast majority of Tory voters came from ENGLAND!!

    How much longer is this going to go on? How much longer are you and your likeminded party members going to sit back and remain passive? I have 100% loyalty to the organisation I work for, and have had for 25 years. but if the man in charge was destroying it I couldn’t just sit and take it whilst deperately trying to look for snippets of positive news to make me think everything was OK.

    I’m beginning to think that Nick Clegg actually swayed Cameron to the Right rather than the Centre.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The roads are just one part of the infrastructure which is groaning under the weight of an increased population, increased mainly as a consequence of mass immigration rather than natural growth, but most importantly increased in an unpredictable way which makes it even more difficult to project future needs and plan adequate provision.

    However in the case of roads as in other cases it is not all down to population growth and immigration; governments have pursued policies which tend to increase the need for private road transport, and in particular for young people of both sexes to have their own cars at a much earlier stage in adult life than was once usual, while at the same time the Labour government set out to actively discourage the car use which was essential for other policies such as getting higher female participation in the paid workforce.

    There now seems to be so little spare capacity or redundancy in the main road system, at least in the south east, that any blockage caused by road works or by accidents or natural events such as flooding immediately causes widespread disruption.

    If councils or the government or contractors had to pay compensation to road travellers for the excess time wasted on their everyday journeys then I imagine that would quickly bring about an improvement in the planning of road works.

    Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Travel to Parliament by MPs must be problematic as even on the most critical votes 20% of them do not manage to clock in.

    Because of the obvious requirement to scale down,proprietary road maps show our transport veins and arteries in incorrect linear and logical pattern. Actually, it is a dim birds nest but lacking the necessary cohesive spitum.

    The answer cannot be to build more roads and buildings, a bit here a bit there, add a bit, demolish a bit, change a bit,fix a bit with frenetic encouragements/ grants/curtailments from innumerable interest groups and finally-arrived-at-work local and national politicians. Not to mention the vicar of the Church of St. Stuck in the Middle of Town for 500 Years.

    An idea would be to set the optimum population for the UK and adjust the availability of housing, work and recreational facilities which may include deliberate deficit or surplus. This would be a sensible start for minds which are clocked-in.

  20. a-tracy
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Concentration in the short term should be on accident hot spots by far the biggest loss to productivity is stuck in accidents for three to four hours at a time usually every Friday afternoon (M1, M40 in the Midlands, M25, M6 J14-J21a), also smart motorways aren’t always smart or the answer and near empty motorways restricted to 50mph because someone forgot to increase the speeds are just frustrating and unnecessary, over long roadworks when only small sections are being worked on or not worked on at all for weeks are another frustration for professional drivers on tachographs and domestic driving hours rules. Another bug bear are overhead gantry signs giving warnings that aren’t there that then cause tail backs and unnecessary delays especially in the evenings.

    Town planning should always consider the transport connections first before thousands of houses are built in areas with poor public transport connections to major towns (employment areas). Also building business development estates with thousands of jobs but little parking and hardly any public transport (what there is is too slow one hour for a fifteen minute car journey) and no shop is just POOR planning! Unemployment areas near to large employment areas like Manchester should be prioritised for trams.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      And just to prove my point today a driver stuck for between 1.5 and 3 hours (unclear duration) between J15 and J16 of M6 because of an earlier accident closing two lanes. It’s a problem on this stretch every Friday.

  21. Brigham
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Having worked for long periods of my life in jobs that had high personnel numbers, I have come to the conclusion that the biggest deterrent to productivity is the unions.

  22. Atlas
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    What you say is true John, but I would place a small wager with myself that if you altered road capacity such that it halved the travel time (on present loading) the amount of traffic would increase until the travel time grew back to what it is now…

  23. forthurst
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    “The UK suffered a 13 year hiatus in new road construction from 1997.”

    I seem to recall that at that time, improvements to the A21 to Hastings were mooted; to the great disappointment of a socialist leaning colleague who resided there and and spent three and a half hours per day commuting, the scheme was cancelled as the realisation dawned that improving infrastructure might cause the wrong sort of people to want to go to live there; perhaps, this is the grand design: allow infrastructure and housing to deteriorate by investing far less than is necessary to keep up with the flood of migrants, and eventually, the wrong sort of people will up sticks and leave the country, bequeathing it entirely to benefit seekers, asylum seekers, ………………..(m)ibrants, generally, who are used to far worse in their own countries.

  24. Bigneil
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    More roads wanted – to get to more places – where more houses will be built to house all the incomers – who will clog up the new roads etc. Round and round we go – more people – more houses – more roads. Should the bookies offer a date for the disappearance of the last blade of grass? Stop the population growing so fast.
    As Chris Rea sang – We’re on the road to Hell.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      @Bigneil; “Round and round we go – more people – more houses – more roads.”

      Put it like that I now understand why the government has brought in that budget measure to stop (certain) child centred welfare payments with the second child, but why do I get the feeling that such needless population home-grown population growth is not what you are having a rant about.

  25. Martin
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I thought cycle lanes were the Conservative Party’s solution to transport problems. The Tory papers were on about how wonderful Boris bikes are during the tube strike. Trivia if truth be told.

    Mrs May’s Nimby voters blocked the last attempt to widen the M4 (It was a Conservative government then – i don’t recall resignations over that issue). Oddly enough when a Motorway is built there is a never a campaign to get it closed down.

    Multinationals come to the Thames Valley and yet the government does nothing about Heathrow. Years are wasted writing reports which are then shelved because Zac, Boris, Justine and the rest only care about old lady voters. Maybe you should link state pensions to transport improvements!

    I guess as you are based in SE England you have never experienced the Flight Connections center in Terminal Five Heathrow. Communist inefficiency on steroids.

  26. David Hope
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Agree with all this. One thing I’d like to see raised in parliament is the time that roadworks take. The M1 is almost useless currently, last year, on many stretches, they spent a year changing the central reservation barrier. Then when it was finished they started making sections into a “smart motorway” (e.g. Leeds to Sheffield) which from commencing was scheduled to take a year and now looks like being considerably longer.

    This is not acceptable, this is the UK’s main trunk road! Yet there seems to be absolutely no desire by ministers or the department for transport to do anything. How on earth can it take so long, and why is it being done by tiny teams all the way down the M1. How about doing a small bit at a time and pouring lots of people into that one bit!

  27. acorn
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Much slow moving traffic is that of farm vehicles owned by irresponsible, unprofessional, inefficient farmers and landowners.

    If there was one aim above all in the Industrial Revolution it was to take economically excess workers and people from the Countryside and allow them to avail themselves of greatly enhanced standards of living and productivity in purpose-built accommodations in our towns and cities.

    But what does our modern farming community do now? They sow crops which are wholly inappropriate: those which are labour-intensive in their reaping in areas obviously deplete of people. Also they build processing facilities again requiring non-existent workers. They would rather grow strawberries miles away from large roads and homes requiring farm labourers and at least passing motorists than growing non-labour intensive wheat,barley or even the EU much-loved Rape.

    In the Industrial Revolution too many farmers with commonsense and business acumen left the Land where they are sorely required.

    If I were King, as they say, I would commandeer their rights to land and farming, place the documented rights in some kind of Trust Fund perhaps in Luxembourg far away from their meddling and, sell them off to the competent…those not requiring 10 varieties of 4-wheel drives when a second-hand moped would do.

  29. Edward2
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    At last we have a Government that realises the importance of roads and that investing in them is a route to economic prosperity.
    Just like the boom that came from the development of the canal system and the growth of the railways.
    I was in Sheffield last week and I have never seen any other city where roads were in such poor condition nor a city centre road system more designed to confuse and restrict vehicles from getting where they needed to get to.
    Congestion and extra pollution is the result of this anti motorist policy.
    Here in the Midlands someone wrote an excellent letter to a local newspaper to suggest that two top Councillors meet and have lunch to discuss their different policies.
    One is spending millions trying to attract businesses and local people to come into the city centre, whilst the other is spending millions trying to keep them out.

  30. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Just been listening to the 6pm news on BBC and heard that Scotland are going to vote on the fox hunting ban. If there was ever an example of how England is the underdog then this shows it up. We need EVEL asap. What is the point of letting English MP’s vote on English issues only but letting Scotland have a chance to veto bills???? What a waste of legislation.

    • DaveM
      Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      EVEL as it’s being proposed would make no difference – the Bill could still be voted down at the final stage anyway!!! We need an English Parliament or genuine EVEL.

      • DaveM
        Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        PS Or an English independence referendum.

  31. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    The frustration getting to work for some certainly doesn’t set them up for a day and ‘in the zone’. I recall working for an agency for many years . First of all you have to find the place( and there weren’t any sat navs then) allow 3 or four extra hours for travelling and then only to be hindered by one way systems due to road works.
    I have refused well paid jobs when the traffic control conditions have not been efficient and I expect many others have Who wants to work hard when at the beginning or end of the day there is so much time wasting and stress. Life is short . There are not enough hours in the day to have ineffectual systems take chunks out of our lives.

  32. Jerry
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Off topic on still to do with the subject of productivity, having watched the last couple of hours or so of today’s Budget debate and votes, MPs could be a lot more productive themselves if Westminster used some form of electronic voting (as our devolved parliaments and the EU do) – an hour to vote something like four times is a total joke in this day and age, even more so when government now expect us plebs to do so much via IT and the internet…

    Reply Voting in person has two big advantages – it makes MPs turn up in the Chamber, and it gives us time to lobby Ministers and talk to each other.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply; Point taken about lobbying but surely that is not the only possible occasion, but if so then perhaps some other occasion could be contrived to make Ministers break cover and become accessible? 🙂

      Also I wasn’t advocating remote voting as such, just some way of speeding up the vote, perhaps at the pre division stage, sometimes a dozen of so MPs can’t half make themselves sound like the 2000! Such shenanigans, when compared to the voting efficiency of Holyrood or Cardiff (dare I mention the EU parliament).

  33. matthu
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    OT but still topical

    In an interview with Dutch television’s Nieuwsuur, extracts of which were released ahead of broadcast, Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Tsipras’s tactics had made it harder to secure financial support for Athens.

    “You have to realise that if we’d held referendums in the other 18 countries on whether we should give more money to Greece, the result would have been much more striking and more negative than the 60 percent who voted (against austerity) in Greece,” said Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister.

    So what should we conclude from that admission? That despite a belief that the electorate would be very much more than 60% opposed to giving more money to Greece … the totally unelected leaders of the EU are proud that they have decided to do exactly that?

  34. petermartin2001
    Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Why not use the power of the market to fix the problem on the roads? The technology exists to make every road a toll road. Every vehicle would carry a sensor which would be linked to a credit card.

    The price of the journey would be set by a process of supply and demand. It would be higher in peak hours than off-peak hours. That way there would never be any significant traffic congestion providing the price of each journey was set to match the vehicle traffic carrying capacity of each road. Sat navs could be programmed to plan the cheapest route or the fastest route.

    Drivers would plan their journeys to suit. They would share cars rather than drive individually in their own cars. Parents would cycle with their children to school instead of getting out the car. Incidentally the traffic is always so much better during school holidays!

    This is called the market economy. Its going to happen whether we like it or not. The days of “socialist” roads (ie the government pays for them and we all use them as much as we like for free) are numbered. Make the most of it while you can!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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