Roads – are they the worst nationalised industry?

Road provision in the UK has all the hallmarks of a nationalised industry. It is a monopoly, provided free at the point of use. There are various specialist taxes just paid by motorists which mean users of the roads pay several times over the cost of provision. The state sees motorists as a great source of income, keeps us short of capacity, provides a very poor service, and goes out of its way to be use regulation not just to aid safety which is an excellent thing, but to produce a further source of income for the state from fines and parking fees from needless or complex rules. Some traffic management schemes seem designed to impede vehicles as much as possible.

The state takes particular delight in traffic mismanagement schemes which seem designed to try to collect more fine revenue. There are the frequent and sometimes inexplicable changes of speed limits within the same urban corridor. There are the bus lanes that allow you in them at certain times of day, only to switch to excluding cars at all times of day along the same stretch of road. There are the box junctions that you can caught in by error if the vehicle ahead of you stops in a way you were not predicting.

There are state owned car parks with unclear rules – do they allow free parking on a Sunday? What is the position on a bank holiday?

There are then the many bad junctions which impede traffic and are often unsafe. Sometimes the purpose of the different lanes is not clear unless you know the road well, leaving some vehicles stranded in the wrong lane when they come to cross or turn at the junction. The system is chronically short of capacity into most of our towns and cities. Quite often the issue is a lack of bridging points to get over rivers and railway lines.

The authorities compound the inadequacy of the capacity they provide by allowing or encouraging the main utility companies to put all their pipes and wires under main roads. This means whenever they need to repair, maintain or replace they need to dig up the road and close it in whole or part. No-one would think of putting utilities down the side of railway lines and diverting trains everytime you need to access the wires and pipes.

Government authorities themselves are constantly fiddling with the road layouts, kerbs and lanes so they too directly create long delays from roadworks.

We have discussed before the agreed wish to keep the provision free at the point of use. This leaves us with how then we persuade local and national government to provide more road capacity and to manage the capacity they have more effectively. An authority like Wokingham is putting in substantial new road space to catch up with past demand and to deal with the current rate of new housebuilding, but it also needs extra capacity on the national trunk and motorway network. More of the money taken from motorists and commercial vehicle owners should be spent on providing better roads.

Only the motorways segregate motor vehicles from cycles and pedestrians. They are as a result our safest and our fastest roads. All train tracks are segregated from pedestrians and cyclists despite having great straight shortest distance routes into our urban centres to assist rail safety. Where we have to run a mixed road, used by pedestrians and cyclists as well as motor vehicles we need to make decent provision for all and recognise the need to keep pedestrians and cyclists away from moving traffic where possible as mixed used junctions are particularly dangerous.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    An authority like Wokingham is putting in substantial new road space to catch up with past demand and to deal with the current rate of new housebuilding . . .

    New houses for whom ?

    Once again, we need to look at the root cause.

    If we went and put a search in YouTube, or similar, for Britain in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s we would see roads that were nearly empty and streets that were clean.

    So what’s gone wrong ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      And public loos, water fountains, libraries, public parks, tax offices and councils who could answer letters and answer the phone, rubbish that was collected, pot holes that were filled …..

      Now it seems all the state does is look for new ways to tax, licence, regulate and mug the public and business at every turn.

      • Peter
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Local councils – certainly mine – look to parking and traffic fines as a significant source of income. Poorly signposted changes boost that income. Then the same councils wonder why there are less people visiting town centre shops. Out of town shopping malls do not fine motorists. Online shops do not fine motorists.

        In London there is little benefit in having a car unless you travel after 7pm and before 6am or you use it to visit a golf club or out of London location with parking.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink


        Sweden + Denmark have relatively high state and high GDP per capita (at least compared to say Japan + S. Korea, with relatively low state and low GDP compared to Sweden + Denmark).

        Political systems alone is not enough. Not nearly enough (and i say that as a soft capitalist). Something much, much more is required, and that is the transformation of individuals into people who work for the common good –
        and not just for themselves and their immediate interests. Do you agree or not?

        If not, what evidence can you give that any political system in history has ever worked really well, or even just well? There is none. Zilch. Scratch under the surface, and you find major problems with them all. From the far left to the far right, and everything in between (although i still advocate soft capitalist is the best but on its own not nearly enough).

        If you agree, then how do we do our small bit to try and transform the individual to working for the common good?

        That’s ultimately a question of culture. Not politics. And involves things including religion, the arts, education and so on. And it is something that politicians should involve themselves in. Politics is far more than mere political systems and governance. And perhaps politicians should work much closer with people in religion, the arts and education in general?

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          ‘If not, what evidence can you give that any political system in history has ever worked really well, or even just well?’

          – Or if you can find one, then there is more to the mere political system sustaining it. But rather something cultural, underneath, sustaining it – whether that be religion, the arts, education, and more, or all three together.

          About 95 to 99% of debate about improving our country appears all about politics (whether from the right or left). Important as politics is, culture (/cultural values) is far more important (and cultural values apply as much to business as they do to how you get on with your neighbour, your attitude to public service in general, and so on).

          • APL
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            Ed Mahony: “But rather something cultural, underneath, sustaining it – whether that be religion, the arts, education, and more, or all three together.”

            Steady Ed, you’ll be black-balled for bad thoughts if you go further down that road.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink


            Most of my heroes were black-balled in one shape or form: Christ (Our Lord), Quaker businessmen and Winston Churchill.

            All who made / make this country great!

            God, Queen + Country, Family.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            ‘Patriotism is dead in the water.’

            Sorry, I take that back. There are lots of patriots still in our country. But a lack of patriotism and a shallow form of nationalism are both on the rise. And it greatly concerns me. Because a happy and successful country depends on a strong spirit of healthy, united patriotism.

      • Tim Chick
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink



    • alan jutson
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      Agree for overloaded Roads, read the same for NHS, Schools, Housing, Trains, Prisons, Doctors surgeries, Dentists, etc

      Same reason: population increase.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Population increase, well perhaps in part, but nothing run by the state is ever run well or run for the benefit of the population in general. Not their money and not they who benefit so what do they care about delivering value to the public?

      • John C.
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely right.

    • alexP
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Mark B..there have been huge changes in how we now live today and since the 50s, 60s and 70s. For a start people travel much more and much more frequently and over longer distances for work, for business, for pleasure, in addition we have food stuffs and other commercial goods available in the supermarkets and multi stores that were not even dreamt about 40 or 50 years ago. All of these extra things being transported by wholesalers up and down the country is of course putting awful pressure on the road systems. Then because of the unavailability of affordable accommodation and housing in some locations people are travelling further and further just to get to work. Gone are the days when people could live all together like in the old TV show ‘rising damp’..I well remember the grocery shops in the 1950s when I was growing up- there was bread milk sugar potatoes and cabbage..sometimes bananas or oranges..a different time..

      • Mark B
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:35 am | Permalink

        All true. But you can thank inventions, containerisation, the opening up of international markets, and of course, Capitalism. All of which can be achieved without MASS immigration.

    • Adam
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      There are now too many people. Within finite space, a small excess can obstruct & restrict the access & movement of all. Saturation extends beyond the reach of systems to solve. Many of the existing methods were already over-complicated & unfit for purpose, decades before calls for urgent change emerged.

      Govt should simplify, rather than use add-on attempts at remedies, which themselves trigger need to deal with their own knock-on effects. Road space & procedures remain wastefully arranged, obstructive & dangerous.

      Some say restricted nations’ laws focus on ‘Do’ & what IS allowed, tending to suggest all else is not. Better nations tend to favour: Don’t; concentrating on fewer, which is freer. Even so, road sign design communication uses a symbol & then obscures its own image clarity by adding its crossing out!

      UK taxation is similarly muddled in nonsensical detail. Tax exists to fund Govt activity & influence behaviour. Few & simpler means would do those efficiently.


    • OhDannyBoy
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      My back-of-a-cigarette-packet calculations tell me that we need to cater for an additional 762 people every 24 hours, not including births in this country.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:36 am | Permalink

        And that is for 18 years until, hopefully, they get a job and can ay for themselves – hopefully.

    • Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      ”NHS crisis” + ”housing crisis” + ”roads crisis” + ”transport crisis”
      = ”population crisis”

      Surely it’s time to start charging foreign lorries to use our roads. And even tourists, the way they do in Switzerland.

  2. sm
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    A significant part of the complex problem is the belief held by many in positions of authority that motor vehicles (whether private or commercial) are a generalised evil, and that making their use more difficult will deter people from buying or using them.

    I do not venerate cars and commercial vehicles, but I recognise that they are just as essential to C21st living as electronic communications and modern medicine; a sensible system of well-maintained roads is therefore vital to every aspect of our society.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Restricting car use by blocking the roads is that most absurd thing to do. It is a huge tax on people’s time and productivity but it raises no revenue for government quite the reverse.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        True, we see that all the time around here, councils try to stop “rat runs” instead of asking why would people take do this…then we have the speed bumps and wide spread 20mph limits…doh

        Make the main roads run smoothly and the “rat run” problem goes away.

      • Hope
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        The govt introduced another unnecessary quango called the Highway Agency now Highway England. No improvement whatsoever, more fragmentation, more cost to the taxpayer, the police were perfectly adequate.

        How did the civilianisation of policing by Thatcher improve numbers on the street? I had the opposite effect, more civilians and fewer bobbies on the beat!

        The vindictive police bashing by the Tory govt. over Plebgate will need to stop at some point it was a vote loser at the last election coupled with the three terrorist attacks.

    • NickC
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Sm, Quite correct. There was (is?) an anti-car fashion which was put into effect by Labour when they came into office in 1997. One aspect of this was what I call “pavement bulging” where roads are narrowed and corners made sharper just to make it more awkward for vehicles. That attitude compounded the effects of a higher population probably nearer 75 million than the official 65 million.

  3. Richard1
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    All good points. The one good thing about roads is they can’t go on strike.

    Speaking of strikes, we hear very little from the govt or from conservative MPs on the scandalous strike by university lectures. These people are being asked to accept what almost all the rest of us have had to accept, which is a degree of market risk on our pensions. They are behaving with an extraordinary sense of entitlement in wrecking university courses for students who pay a lot and already only have 23or 24 out of 52 weeks of proper teaching. Doesn’t matter in arts and social sciences where reading can be done outside, but science students who are shut out of labs can’t get the time back. Time to look at innovative solutions to break the stranglehold of these people – the Govt should force refunds to students to be used to purchase replacement course online from, eg, US universities. That might lead to a wider discussion as to whether that shouldn’t become a practice in the ordinary course.

    • duncan
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink


      Don’t expect action from this useless PM and her snivelling government. They’re too concerned with pandering to liberal left, state vested interests

      A proper Tory government would have crushed this strike in weeks. A strike of this kind is little more than an attempt to protect their juicy privileges. It is what the state has become. The end-user is now an after-thought

      • Hope
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        If you were the US would you stand by May over the nerve agent episode after her insults to the president? Her beloved EU were no where to be seen last tine and thought it a UK matter, so much for solidarity! More threats from Junker yesterday. At what point does May actually stop embarrassing our country and do something?

        I read the Tory traitors at it again to try to legal action to force a second referendum. When will May deselect them?

      • jerry
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        @duncan, “[This Govt. is] too concerned with pandering to liberal left, state vested interests”

        Perhaps they are, and it might have something do with a wish to get re-elected whenever the next GE comes… After all in 2017 there was the biggest swing to the left since 1945, a “true Tory party” will be sitting on the opposition benches if you and your [words left out, to save our host the job] ideas were adopted.

        Can you not see you are just being the same but opposite swing of the pendulum that caught Labour out in the early 1980s, when the electorate reject your policies for moderation you don’t respond by becoming even more extreme – left or right!

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Universities are private entities. Are you seriously suggesting it is the role of government to intervene between a private entity and its employees?

        Speaking as someone who worked in the sector earlier in my career, University staff are standing up for the only employment benefit they receive (which at 50% of what is often a mediocre salary compared to what those same staff could in the private sector, is not that generous, and is actually a fully funded scheme unlike some others). They are not being compensated in any other way for this loss.

        Pensions are simply deferred salary, and therefore the proposed changes amount to nothing more than a pay cut. If your employer told you they were imposing a pay cut on you, would you just roll over and accept it?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          Here in the world of self employment and SME companies those of us working in this sector have to accept variation in salary and pensions far less generous.

          Sometimes the company you work for simply closes down.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            Self employment currently has advantages in direct taxation compared to employment. Private sector employment typically comes with other benefits in my experience. For those working in education, the pension is the only benefit. If the UK is to be a high skill, high wage economy in the future, competing on the global stage in new technologies, reducing the atttactiveness of working in the education sector by cutting the value of the only benefit by 50% is hardly conducive to that.

            I have, in the past, worked in a situation where I had a DC pension and colleagues alongside me in the same job with longer tenure had a DB pension. I did not begrudge them that. I agreed to the deal I had knowing what it was, and so did my colleagues.

            Taking a view of “I don’t have it, so noone else should” (a view I did hear expressed by others while in that job) is simply advocating a race to the bottom. I know there are those who post here who argue that this is exactly what the UK should do. I disagree.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            You ignore my point that the kind of pensions in the public sector have not been available in the private sector for many years
            Soon even the public sector will have to radically revise their unaffordable schemes.
            If I were a Uni lecturer I would be irritated
            But sooner or later reality will bite.
            Final salary pensions and inflation proof pensions paid below 65 are unaffordable unless both the employer and employee pay in far higher percentage sums every month.
            Levels which employees would refuse and employers would find very difficult to afford even in the public sector.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

            DB (and career average pensions) are still available in the private sector. Only in a minority of companies, but they are still there if you look.

            If, as a country, we wish to continue to try and attract and retain some of the best and brightest into the role of educating the next generations, we need to offer them something. As a country we are unwilling to offer maths teachers a comparable salary to what they could earn in the private sector, we don’t give them a package of other employee benefits, the pension is the one thing on the table. It’s not a question of can we afford the pensions, to compete in the 21st century it’s a question of whether we can afford not to.

            The Universities are taking advantage of the current economic situation (historically low interest rates leading to very low current annuity rates) to do this. When interest rates start to go back up, the valuation position of USS will shift favourably even if there is no gain in investment value (and their investments have been making 12%pa in recent years) as bond yields rise. This decision taken at this time is little more than opportunism.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      “Doesn’t matter in arts and social sciences where reading can be done outside”.

      In general such degrees are worth very little anyway and could be nearly all done by reading in one’s spare time while doing a job (at almost no cost) anyway. Rarely are they worth the £50K of debt and loss of three years earning and work experience.

      Plus so many come out of universities believing in left wing magic money tree economics, delusions of their value, climate alarmist believers and as dreadful winging remoaners.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        People tend to be bright or no so bright and degrees certainly do not charge that. Worse still they can often indoctrinate with wrong headed idiotic BBC group think. On for example climate alarmism, entitlement, lefty economics, PC drivel and love of the corrupt, economically damaging & anti-democratic EU.

        Take a look at the voting in the referendum votes in University Towns.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      No. But major routes are frequently closed down for the day because of incompetence (accidents.)

      • Stred
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Major routes, including motorways are closed completely at night and weekends to suit the Highways Agency and Councils. Single lane working is an inconvenience and tax paying drivers do not count.

        Councils do not care if drivers cannot tell whether the times on parking signs mean that you can park or can’t. Some you can, some you can’t. They make more money by confusing.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      What student is going to dare complain that the lecturer about to mark their degree is striking? When I saw students on tv supporting the strikes I thought, that’s smart you’re much better off being very vocal and supporting them – it will be interesting to see if those students (the union conveners) shouting suddenly get the highest marks.

      • Hope
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        The left wing bias by university staff has become extreme to the point it is skewed into many subject areas. What is the minister doing about it? Gender neutral toilets in u iversity buildings seem more important than teaching the students about and preparing them for the real world.

        University education is not value for money at all.

        • Hope
          Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          We need people who have not attended university represented fairly in the civil service. What is May doing about it? Why is the cabinet skewed with left wingers from Oxbridge? These universities are the breeding ground for left wing subversive elements to the establishment as we saw with the spy scandals- Burgess, McClean etc.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        My information is that many lecturers were initially reluctant to join the strikes by have been bullied and intimidated into doing so by leftist activists.

    • jerry
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      @Richard; Nonsense, if you pay for a specific product, be it a pension, car or house you should expect to get that product!

      If you bought a brand new 4 bedroom house off-plan but when you go to move in you find that the builder has run out of bricks and has thus built you a 2 bed house would you accept it as “a degree of market risk” in the building industry or would you kick up a stink and demand what you paid for or a full refund (and perhaps interest) so that you cane invest in what you need.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        It is the University mainly paying for the pensions of their staff.
        The tax on dividends of pension fund investments and record low interest rates and people living longer has led to most private sector companies having to move away from final salary schemes and inflation proofed pensions to invested fund schemes.
        It is just an example at last of the public sector realising that these type of pensions are not affordable
        I can understand the anger of those affected but it is a modern reality which self employed and SME companies dealt with many years ago.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        People who pay lots of tax rarely expect anything of value back. I certainly do not.

        If they do they will probably be disapointed.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Nonsensical argument. It is perfectly legitimate to make such changes given the un-affordability of the final salary scheme. It is of course only unaffordable due to actuarial rules and the dysfunctional monetary policy – another hidden cost of QE etc. The alternative would be to lay off a percentage of academics, as would happen in the private sector in such circs. But I don’t suppose they would like that either.

        • jerry
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          @Ricghard1; ” It is perfectly legitimate to make such changes given the un-affordability of the final salary scheme. “

          I agree, for new entrants.

          • a-tracy
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            Jerry, Gordon Brown didn’t change private sector pensions only for new entrants. He hammered our savings without a care whilst protecting his union paymasters and their funding staff.

          • jerry
            Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            @a-tracy: Two wrongs don’t make a right!

          • a-tracy
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            No, I disagree Jerry, if it wasn’t wrong to do this to us then it wasn’t wrong to make this universal.

            I believe we should all be in the same type of pension investment schemes Jerry, then civil servants and politicians making decisions on the private sectors pension schemes have to think twice, I didn’t see anyone defending private sector workers pensions when they were making them such poor return, unknown returns that were so highly taxed by Brown and subsequent chancellors then raided. So that now £100,000 pension pot at 65 with spousal transfer only buys you around £4000-£4500pa salary, the s!.t is really going to hit the fan when nest workplace pension savers realise what a pittance their 3-4% and their employer’s contribution is going to buy them.

          • jerry
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

            @a-tracy; Yours sound more like a case of sour grapes & and fit of peak, targeted toward a totally innocent group of people, than any rational logic thought process…

    • John C.
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Has anyone any figures on the actual number of lecturers now as opposed to the number in, say, the mid 60’s? The increase, and consequent expense involved, must be phenomenal. No austerity, here, is there?

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        It’s all going to crash into a very big wall soon enough John C.

        Kids are seeing the results for their relatives and friends from many of the old polys.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Roads – are they the worst nationalised industry?

    Quite some competition.

    The NHS, education, defense procurement, the way legal system is organised to benefit lawyers are the expense of the public, rail track, the appallingly complex and idiotic tax system, the absurd planning system, the patent system does more harm than good too, parliament and the lords, the office of tax simplification (that does the opposite) …..

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Interesting to read in the spectator “A very EU coup” just how the appalling EU actually works!

    Let us hope we do actually get out, despite of T May and P Hammond’s best efforts.

    • rose
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      This, and the schoolgirls of Telford, should have been the main news yesterday. Very convenient for Mrs May that they were both buried.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Rose, I thought our local councils were paid to safeguard our children, I thought they received the social services money. Who is in charge of Telford’s social service/police/school welfare – why aren’t actual people paid to protect and care for children being held to account for this.

        If this was a private sector provider failing it would be on our news cycle every night for months as Carilion was.

        • rose
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          There was finally an urgent question about this but it was shoved into a minor room. Meanwhile today, the Yvette Coopers and Anna Soubrys are using the main chamber to demand more family reunion for “child refugees”. As ever, they want to have it both ways: they want us to regard these men as tragic orphans but then suddenly we have to change the law again so that they can have their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings etc brought in to join them. “My constituents” in this context means these men, not the girls of Telford and all the other towns and cities affected by gang rape and even worse. And “My constiuents” doesn’t mean the indigenous homeless.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    We have congestion because we are always playing catch up.

    Look abroad and you will see most of the time all of the infrastructure built before the houses are even started, we seem to do it the other way around.

    Agree regulations, speed limits, constantly change, got caught out with a parking fine for the first time in my life last year, using a car park after 18.00 hours which has been free for decades, then Council (Wokingham Borough) started charging for overnight use.
    Guess we should read all signs every time we use a car park (not always easy when dark) instead of relying upon past knowledge.
    £50 fine for parking responsibly to attend a local theatre production, instead of blocking the road and spaces outside residents houses.

    • Hope
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Councils charge NHB and CIL for every house built. Tory Govt introduced the planning law changes post 2010. The money is not going on infrastructure but vanity projects, bloated salaries and pensions. Councils bleat about cuts to grants and forget these funding streams replaced the grant reductions to force them to build, colloquially known as the Boles bung when introduced as he was the housing minister. Why does Javid not rebut council claims or the add ons to our bills or better still make sure the monies are used for the intended purpose? The most lazy useless local govt minister to date I suggest. He only likes to smear the taxpaying public or tell us to down size or pay more! It would be better if he got a grip with councils to provide a better service with the money they already have. No need for expensive two tier authorities cut the number and save money.

    • Hope
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Councils charge NHB and CIL for every house built. Tory Govt introduced the planning law changes post 2010. The money is not going on infrastructure but vanity projects, bloated salaries and pensions. Councils bleat about cuts to grants and forget these funding streams replaced the grant reductions to force them to build, colloquially known as the Boles bung when introduced as he was the housing minister. Why does Javid not rebut council claims or the add ons to our bills or better still make sure the monies are used for the intended purpose? The most lazy useless local govt minister to date I suggest. He only likes to smear the taxpaying public or tell us to down size or pay more! It would be better if he got a grip with councils to provide a better service with the money they already have. No need for expensive two tier authorities cut the number and save money. Javid claimed to be a leaver, voted in and now is delivering Leave. Career useless MP.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Exactly Hope we’ve had hundreds of new build houses and the money spent elsewhere in the County. Our roads that local residents campaigned were not sufficient for the extra cars are down deep potholed death traps for cyclists and vehicle damaging nightmares. Cutting down from two-tier authorities to one has been horrendous for our town, our representation is now too far away, be careful what you wish for, large Council priorities aren’t anything like the old priorities for fair Borough spending. They don’t save money they just spend more on the primary towns on pie in the sky projects that the people didn’t want or ask for.

  7. Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    A lot more intelligence needs to be applied to our transport needs, and a lot more needs to be done to cut out unnecessary journeys…

    What about making use of great lorry parks at our ports to take freight onto trains, rather than foreign lorries clogging our roads?

    What about doing a national survey on road and rail journeys, to better understand the problems?

    What about encouraging more people to work from home?

    What about getting rid of deliberate traffic jams, like the tolls for the Dartford crossing?

    • graham1946
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Freight on trains?

      Our country is far too small except for bulk producers (cars, steel) etc. who have their own sidings. Handling goods off trailers on to trains a slow journey to some railhead then off again on to trailers or delivery vehicles would double the cost the time taken for the journey.

      I could get a vehicie to take goods from say London to Manchester in a few hours and at relatively low cost. Put it on trains and the journey is 3 days and higher cost.

      Railways are a 19th century solution to 21st century problem except in some specific cases.

      • graham1946
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        PS The more people buy online the worse it is all going to get. The government need to see transport as a strategic asset that needs money spent and intelligent and able ministers rather then use it as a demotion as they mostly seem to do. Labour even put John Prescott in charge of it for God’s sake. Tells you all you need to know about politicians idea of essential. He was supposed to integrate all our transport services which is impossible anyway. Transport is probably our most important Ministry, far more essential than the Home Office for instance or even the Foreign Office. Both seem to cause more problems than they solve.

        • Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          Yes – I recall that boast about integrating all transport – Prescot was a joke…. and that’s being nice – but agree online ordering will only make for more congestion – Some joined up thinking needs to go into that problem

      • Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        But Graham – We’re looking for solutions to our current problems – The railways surely have the capacity to move a lot of goods at off-peak times… and apart from anything else, would provide more income to them… Perhaps we should encourage more big companies to create their own sidings, but one way or another, a little at a time, we could persuade bulk goods to use the railways… or we can just ignore an under-used resource

  8. Prigger
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Yes you have it just about covered. “Some traffic management schemes seem designed to impede vehicles as much as possible.” Not “seem designed” but “are designed”.
    This was explained in some detail to me by a professional involved in the designing.
    It does not matter that you are inconvenienced and your time wasted without pay by getting to your home five miles away by slow moving traffic each day just so long as eight miles away a potential bottle neck is eased by other cars in your five miles being deliberately delayed. Designed by a communist.Implemented by communist thinkers. No joke. This IS communist thinking. You do not matter. The overall plan is all that matters.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    People have been forced to live away from work. Many have been good citizens and sought to find work away from home.

    Then they get punished by the government for running a car.

    Niiice !

  10. Original Richard
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    “An authority like Wokingham is putting in substantial new road space to catch up with past demand and to deal with the current rate of new housebuilding, but it also needs extra capacity on the national trunk and motorway network.”

    The solution is to curb immigration to the “tens of thousands” as was promised in your party’s election manifesto.

    • OhDannyBoy
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I will not be voting Conservative again until after such a manifesto promise is put into action.

    • Dennis
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      “The solution is to curb immigration to the “tens of thousands” as was promised in your party’s election manifesto.”

      No, the solution is to curb immigration to the minus tens of thousands. Allow in half the number that leave each year which means currently letting in 100,000 plus, surely enough to satisfy requirements.

    • John C.
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Nearly. Better is “solution would have been…”

  11. Prigger
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    So Mrs May gave Putin until midnight, to answer. Did he reply as OUR Boris would reply in reverse circumstances “Go whistle!” ?
    “Highly likely” is not the language of a lawmaker…It means it did not happen

  12. APL
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    JR: “roads – are they the worst nationalised industry?”

    No, that’s the NHS. The BBC and Police, followed by the local authority administration. Then perhaps the ‘Third’ sector, which shouldn’t exist at all.

    Oh and for value for money, or ‘efficiency’, Parliament is pretty lousy too.

    • Prigger
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      “Oh and for value for money, or ‘efficiency’, Parliament is pretty lousy too.”
      William Hague Former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may disagree. I recall he stated, speaking about his book on the subject, that in the times of William Pitt the Younger corruption was commonplace and the scheme of things in political circles.
      I would update that to say in regard to MPs that “Buy one and get one free” is still a good offer

  13. Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Please don’t suggest that roads should be under private management OR that a quango should run them – they are a vital element of life, and Westminster should be fully in control, nationally

  14. Malcolm Stevas
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    A very good summary. Too many of those in power, and their civil servants, look upon motor vehicles with disfavour, and do not recognise our reliance upon them for daily travel: they exploit motorists in particular as a cash cow. The road surfaces are atrocious, poorly and infrequently maintained. The money we contribute to government coffers exceeds by a huge amount the money (not) spent on keeping our roads vastly more useable than they are.
    Re traffic flow, why the official obsession with traffic lights? In my part of rural Devon, the queues to gat through or past even small towns can be the worst holdup when driving to London, as I sometimes do. Surely the Dutch did some interesting and productive changes years ago, by removing certain sets of traffic lights, replacing them with conventional white-line junctions or roundabouts – and seeing traffic flow improve…

    • Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Agreed “A very good summary. Too many of those in power, and their civil servants, look upon motor vehicles with disfavour…”

      …while encouraging motor vehicles to be built at an ever increasing rate – The government could be termed bipolar psychotic in this respect.

      It’s time we had better cars, that lasted longer, and were not condemned to keep on producing poor quality vehicles that last maybe ten years, while providing jobs for many – IT IS time to find other industries to keep our people properly employed…

    • Robert Betteridge
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Traffic lights. We are British, we know how to queue, and we understand fairness, and wrinckleys were taught good road manners.
      We need intelligent traffic lights that flash Amber to let vehicles filter in from the left, and take it in turn. When no more need to filter go to Green. That would improve flow by a good 30%.

  15. a-tracy
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    We have changed from a Conservative authority to a Labour-run authority, you can tell just by looking around the local area, there is litter piling up everywhere! The place is beginning to look like a permanent tip. The potholes and road surfaces are now horrendous, repair jobs are slapdash infills that come back out of the hole within a week or two. They authorise main road closures for four months at a time for utilities to be put under said road instead of in the many fields at the side of the main trunk route, this impedes all work commuters and local companies. You write to the elected councillor about the local plan and don’t get a response.

    When we had a Borough Council we had a regular quarterly meeting and the Conservative authority stopped them before they got kicked out, we now have no recourse.

  16. Bob
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    o/t BBC Radio 4 Toady program report that Mrs May has implied that Russia may have been responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack and that the EU has said it stands side by side with the UK although Mr Trump has said nothing at all. A female presenter made the point that this is all happening at a very difficult time for Britain because of Brexit.

    Apparently the toxin is a 50 year old substance that could have originated from the Ukraine.
    The plot thickens!

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Apparently 10 former Soviet Union countries could have this substance.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      ‘Mr Trump’

      – Trump, as predicted, is turning out a disaster. I’m totally with Rex Tillerson. A sensible, balanced and clever Republican. For Trump to fire him just shows how incompetent Trump is.

      Then Trump tries to start trade war. Which planet is he on?

      The sooner Trump goes (and the anarchic/chaotic and populist brand of hard-right wing politics he represents) the better.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        Hopefully, he can pull off a deal with Kim of N Korea. That would redeem the rest of his life in politics. Although he still needs to go. And i hope the Tory government doesn’t offer him any real support, and he decides to go before the next Presidential election.

  17. Man of Kent
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Where’s the brotherly love from the EU for a member who could do with some support against Russia?
    We have not played the security card but have given them unconditional support for the future .
    It is not being reciprocated.
    A lesson at considerable cost to us and none to the EU.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      March 6 -“Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe”

      • LastGas at the Proms
        Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        It hard placing economic sanctions on Russia except by threatening The Ukraine will continue not paying its gas bill and continue stealing Russian gas from existing pipelines in accordance with EU policy .

  18. Christine
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    When I started work in the ’70s most people worked near where they lived. Kids walked to school. Families only had one car. Now many people commute. Kids are driven to school. Families have two cars. Some suggestions – improve the internet so more people can work from home, encourage employers to set up jobs locally, make public transport affordable. Where I live thousands of people now have to commute because Government policy has moved the jobs out of the town to the stupid Power House of the North no doubt benefitting owners of city commercial properties. It’s all a scandal.

  19. KeithM
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Very true. In addition to all your points, roads have suffered from sustained lack of maintenance. Many roads, from minor side streets to major arteries, suffer from their surfaces breaking up, potholes and even subsidence. It appears to me that the maintenance backlog is growing (we are not keeping up), and the condition of our roads is deteriorating.

  20. Andy Marlot
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    All very logical and accurate Mr Redwood. Unfortunately the scale of the problem is even worse than you state. Where I live we are entirely dependent on two roads one of which goes through a junction in another town that is entirely inadequate. The junction causes miles of tailbacks every single day and costs millions of pounds in lost time because of it. Add to this the absolute obsession with putting traffic lights at every possible junction (must be some great backhanders from traffic light manufacturers). More development is happening and despite the band aids of improving the road away from the junction the situation gets worse every month. Nothing is done to address the real causes. This situation is repeated in at least ten other towns in my recent personal experience. Incompetence and laziness abounds amongst the traffic planners who do just enough to justify their high wages but never cure the problems.

  21. Martin Bowden
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    As a cyclist and car driver my own beef is the parlous state of many road surfaces. In Reading it appears that pothole and other deterioration repairs are delayed so much that the original issue has become an enormous problem.
    Some potholes/repairs have had to be done several times in the last few months, and are still dreadful, notably Hemdean Rd outside Balmore Park Surgery and in Forbury Road.
    Furthermore, the recently repaired and strengthened Reading Bridge is showing signs of breaking up, despite having had new tarmac less than 2 years ago.
    It appears that either the council always go for the very cheapest repairs or that the repairs are not done properly.

  22. Epikouros
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Two important morals to read into your article. Free at the point of use is not as free as that phrase would imply as the cost will have to be funded from us by some means invariable that is from current and future taxation(borrowing). So it is not an equitable system as not all use what is provided or at least in the same quantity. Fairer would be not free at the point of use.

    Secondly government/public sector should not be entrusted to provide us with anything, unless there is no alternative but invariably there is but then it should be not be much. As provision by the government is decided not by us the consumer as we know accurately what our needs are. Politicians and bureaucrats who do decide do not and can only do so based on best guesswork and judgements based on beliefs(some of which can be very bizarre indeed) not working knowledge(only market based providers can ascertain that) . Worst politicians and bureaucrats are not motivated by profit but by political gain and job protection with no need to be prudent as they are not spending their own money.

    Provision by government/public sector and funding by tax is the worst possible choice. The private sector when left to their own devices without external intervention we see day in day out efficiently with the best use of resources supply consumer demands of various quality and price from which we the consumer may chose to best fit their needs. Government cannot do that, we cannot switch suppliers as we can in the private sector if we are not happy. We can switch governments from time to time true but the mind set,nd planning and control environment remains the same and the time lag is unacceptably long which if it is a Conservative government will see improvement but it will be minimal and if not will be worse.

  23. JimS
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    It might make a start to have a requirement that all traffic lanes must be at least a set width. Any road that can’t provide two lanes of the minimum width must be de-classified, (and the highway authority shamed to fix it!). Obviously this would make local authority stupidities like chicanes illegal.

    • gregory martin
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes Jim S
      Well said.
      One of the most appalling acts carried out upon our Trunk roads ,as Motorways have been built, is the downscaling and taming carried out, presumably to buy favour of local residents. Perfectly good 24ft carriageways narrowed, broken up and scaled down to 16′, or cross hatched with chevrons and bollards to reduce capacity, safety and when needed ,diversion capability. Local examples to be A30, A31 etc. The latter remains a vital east west route linking A3-M3, yet despite being 400′ above surrounding countryside and built upon porous chalk, still has standing water and cross draining after even modest rainfall.
      Another downgrading is the tolerance of roadside parking on narrow A roads, often because of gentrification of terraced cottages where no offroad parking has been built. Non -prohibition does not permit obstruction -by- right- to- park just because one bought the place cheaply.

  24. S Williams
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    History indicates that any increase in capacity is filled and the status quo of traffic jams is quickly re-established. Individual transport is preferred due to flexibility and ones own space. But cars are an expensive, depreciating asset that remains parked for >90% of its life. Many roads in my town are choked all day with freeloader parking for the station. How can a town function when half the road is denied to moving traffic?

    The enjoyment of driving in the early 1960’s has been supplanted by concerns about where to park on reaching ones destination.

    Politicians and scientists seem unable to provide an answer to this one. The former resort to regulation and punishment, the latter to producing ever more sophisticated and costly means of travel. The behavioural scientists could contribute more to the debate. We need cars that will do 200mpg not mph, require fewer resources to make, occupy smaller lanes and take up less parking space.

    Just don’t blame pedestrians and cyclists! In 100 years from now it could all be very different!

    • Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Self-driving cars will cure most of the problems.

      Within a few years there’ll be very few private cars – no road signs, no traffic lights, no roundabouts, no traffic wardens, no parking meters, no yellow lines, no buses (so no bus lanes), no car parks, no streets clogged with parked cars – simply dial up a car for your journey (or pre-book it for your commute) and when completed it’ll simply continue on to the next customer or return to a central base.

      So stop worrying – I suspect they’ll even replace trains for passenger work.

      The next problem will then be – what do we do with all the drivers who are thrown out of work? – but that’s an argument for another day.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      The reason extra capacity is immediately filled is because road building runs a decade behind demand.

      Extra population means extra journeys yet the planning and the delays in getting projects started mean we do not keep up.
      For example it took decades to get a by pass around Newbury.
      Now the previously polluted and grid locked town is pleasant again and the by pass is a beautifully sculpted road with little congestion.

  25. Tad Davison
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more! Excellent piece! Needs to be said as often as possible!

    Here in Cambridge, they spend millions on reducing road capacity by creating dedicated cycle lanes, then lycra man totally ignores them and rides on the road anyway ‘because they can, and it’s their right’. Then some of them get knocked off, usually because of the widespread practise of riding without lights at night, and the green lobby are then up in arms against those repulsive polloluting motorists, completely forgetting who pays for it all.

    The last MP for Cambridge wanted a change in the law so that in the event of an accident between a cyclist and a motorist, there was an automatic presumption of responsibility on the part of the latter. Cyclists are even given special boxes at traffic lights so they can go ahead of everyone else, and being the slowest off the mark, they inevitably hold everybody up.

    I wonder how cyclists ever do a week’s shop at the supermarket and get it home again? But we need these businesses to flourish so building in ridiculous impediments to volume customers should be designed out.

    As a motorist, I object to paying for something I am not getting. It surely must be time for the department for transport to get a grip!

    Tad Davison


  26. The PrangWizard
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    And take the bread and butter issue of potholes. They are never adequately repaired. Government, in response to criticism says ‘but we’ve given x millions to have them fixed’. Does it check on value for our money?

    Repairs are botched, the contractors rip us off knowing they will rarely if ever be challenged over poor work. And just how much money finds its way into the hands of inspectors – if there are any – which is not salary and wages, I wonder?

    Generally the existing hole is just filled in, rarely is any attempt made to remove the softened and broken surface around back to solid and level, nor is it cleaned properly of loose material; water collects where new meets old, gets below again and out pops the fill so the contractors can come round in a couple of years do the same again and collect more of our millions for substandard work. The whole thing is incompetence and corruption.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Coincidence. Shortly after the above on my way to my local market town I passed a van the occupant of which had been marking up some potholes for repair. A couple of miles on I noticed a missing manhole cover section in the centre of the road so turned back and informed him. I saw it as a risk to life and he went to it and parked alongside it as a warning to drivers and as a precaution.

      Some two hours later on my return he is dutifully still there alone. No sign of any help or action to deal with the problem by anyone else.

  27. rose
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Main roads in our city used to have enough room for motor traffic in the middle and bikes at the side. The Council has now artificially narrowed the roads with build-outs and bottlenecks, also bike racks, and in one particular major artery, lots of planted traffic islands people can’t get to, so that there is now no room for bikes. They could have built dedicated bike lanes at the sides but deliberately chose not to. This all cost a lot and everyone is furious – bus drivers, taxi drivers, motorists, and bicyclists. Pedestrians too because the pollution is so much worse and bicyclists are going on the pavements. The pavements themselves are indescribable.

  28. David
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Once upon a time in the far off days when John Major was our Prime Minister a letter came through my door. It said maybe you think the road outside your house looks fine but tomorrow we are applying a top dressing because its been proved cost effective to treat roads in this way rather than waiting for problems to develop. Has this wisdom been lost?

  29. JJE
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Is any of this talk going to fix the potholes? I’ve just driven from Winnersh to Arborfield and the road is worse not better.
    Why not save everyone’s time and stay away from this topic until there is some actual progress to report.

    Less words, much more action please.

  30. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    As I have commented here before Mr.Redwood in industry we were faced with do more for our clients for the same monies or even less or go out of business. Every aspect of our daily lives from Local Authority’s to central government and dare I say it even the NHS it is 100% do less and less but demand more and more money to do it. How much longer will it continue?

  31. Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Much of the money being spent on road maintenance in Buckinghamshire seems to be wasted. At least part of this, I believe, is due to shoddy work by contractors and lack of competent inspection of the final work.

    How else can they explain why a pothole near my home has been ‘repaired’ twice in the past year and now needs repairing yet again? How can they explain the relatively short period some of the newly surfaced roads last before developing potholes? Are they using acceptable quality materials which last, or the cheapest available to solve the problem for the time being? Does anyone actually check what has been done and whether the materials were of appropriate quality? Do the contractors provide any warranty?

    Nor do they seem to check the quality of the restoration work by the various utilities who have cause to dig up our roads. Given a few months, many of these work sites have become a dip in the road; can’t the utilities be made to come back and finish the job properly?

    I remember when we used to moan about our council’s direct works departments. At least in many ways the workmen did a better job. They weren’t being paid per pothole and did a proper job because they didn’t want to come back again!

  32. Ron Olden
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    The sudden variations and obscure nature of parking and speed restrictions have been the cause of every single traffic and parking offence I’ve ever committed.

    A few years ago I was caught by a camera driving at 35 miles an hour on a wide and completely empty dual carriageway in Cheshire at 7.10 in the morning, having driven for an hour and half through Wales on a 60 mph limit much narrower country road.

    I’d failed to adjust quickly enough to the much lower speed limit.

    North Wales Police advocates a ‘zero tolerance of people driving even one mile an hour above the speed limit. But odometers (including police car ones) are not even so accurate.

    In Wales they are now considering allowing lorries to drive in bus lanes to speed up traffic. I myself think it’s worth a try. Greens’ (sic) on the other hand are complaining that it might cause death to cyclists who cycle in the bus lanes.

    Why this should be, I can’t understand. I can’t see that a moving lorry with a good view of what’s in front of it, is more of a risk to cyclists than buses which stop and start and block the lane, causing the cyclist to have to veer out into the main traffic stream.

    In fact the biggest risk by far, which I encounter when I cycle myself, is having to pass stationery vehicles, especially people who park on double yellow lines and open the roadside door to get out and ‘pop into’ the shop across the road.

  33. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    There is a rather strange mindset which talks of ownership or governance being a problem. Which ever way one looks at it there are people running the show. All our private interests in the last 30 years in the NHS have gone pear shaped; they took the money and ran ; local government couldn’t organise . . . in a brewery . Better management could solve many problems whether they were state or private .It is the people . not the structure.

    Quite honestly I would prefer all the dangerous pot holes in my area filling in We have a labour councillor who is actually boasting for getting work done. A patch of a few metres by a few meters outside a church was sorted . On the other side of the road there are pot holes everywhere and on a main road. Obviously people have different standards , but talk of omission . Mind you this is Manchester’s main tactic .. omisssion . half truths and blatant lies.. It is the people .

  34. Rien Huizer
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    I could not agree more with your suggestions, but why is the current situation so deficient? And maybe you should also consider the impact of possible changes in seaboard use. Currently the bulk of containerized freight (long distance) is carried on very large ships to very efficient, large container ports like Rotterdam and then transshipped (as RoRo or container) to a host of UK ports thus obviating the need for a very extensive high capacity road/rail/river system to carry freight to destinations inland. Few UK destinations are far from a port and many ports can take smaller container RoRo ships. If in the future the UK becomes completely cut off from ports like Rotterdam (wchich I consider unlikely) and the UK would develop concentration ports (like Rotterdam) itself, either a similar transshipment fleet (but then intra UK) or much more road/rail space would have to be dedicated for freight. Of course this would take time, like the projects you are talking about already.

    Imo it would be wise for the UK to give absolute priority (budget and spatial planning), introduce legislation to override NIMBY (especially in the Sounthern portion of England by at least one new six lane motorway to the south of London (with tunnels undfer the Thames) connecting the East Anglia ports to ports on the South coast (including at least one terminal capable of taking the largest ships plus a similar one just North of the Thames estuary). Just in case.

  35. miami.mode
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    All the usual moans and groans, but UK roads are amongst the safest in the world, despite the fact we don’t really know how many people live here, so it can’t be all bad.

    Rightly or wrongly, laws are made in respect of road use, but a huge number of drivers seem to think they have a right to disregard such laws.

  36. MikeP
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Our authorities need to take heed of how Japan rebuilt electricity supplies, railways and major roads in double-quick time after the Kobe earthquake. They could also look at New Zealand where the preference is to repair/replace whole carriageway widths rather than a patchwork quilt of patches on patches. After the recent winter weather our roads are an absolute disgrace, shaming the country. Even our motorway surfaces continue to break up because some idiot has decreed that stick-on temporary cats eyes should be chiselled off damaging the new surface and giving the contractors yet more business from the public purse in years to come. One solution must be to have a “hit squad” that is tasked with coming in with all the skills and equipment en masse, working 24/7, with bonuses for early completion, to get a good job done – quickly – that will last.

  37. agricola
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    They are a fragmentalised industry, and relative to other supposed advanced countries they are just about the worst roads I have come across.

  38. HenryS
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    When the crimea war broke out in the 1850’s between Britain and Russia it took everyone by surprise as Britain hadn’t been a European war since the end of the napoleanic wars ..Waterloo 1815.. By 1850 the old naval ships were still there motballed but the strength in trained men for both the army and navy had been well run down. Needless to say this caused a crisis in government to try to get things up to speed again and as a result the recruiting sergeants were busy roaming the sea ports and fishing communities looking for recruits and as we know because it was mostly bounty based quite a lot of unsuitable types were swept up in the much so that on the first sunday out to sea the old admiral of the fleet decided to have a religious service and was standing at the back..and it was only when the crews removed their hats and he saw all of the old grey hair and bald heads he exclaimed..”we’re in right trouble now”..the fleet had to put in to north spain and half of the numbers were sent home..of course nothing to do with roads .. but otherwise does any of this ring any bells?

  39. mancunius
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes, so much traffic, so many cars…
    As Gillian Duffy once memorably asked Gordon Brown, ‘Where are they all coming from?’

  40. LukeM
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I ‘ve watched a film clip on Euronews of N Farage having a go again at the EU’s Junker..Verhofstadt and others while he was roundly clapped on by UKIP and Tory MEPs..all this while Barnier was looking on..I can tell you now that our goose is well and truely cooked..any bets?

  41. Martyn G
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Oxfordshire County Council last week stated on BBC local radio that the county roads “are now subject to managed decline, due to lack of money to maintain them”.
    So the leaders of one of the richest Counties in England are now content to see its vital infrastructure being run down – take it or leave it apparently being their stand on it all and most ‘B’ roads are now literally crumbling into rough track-ways.

  42. David L
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    One Sunday morning a few weeks back I moved one car off the driveway and parked it on a single yellow line admittedly, so I could wash the other car. No sooner had I emerged with sponge and bucket one of the operatives of the contractors Wokingham Borough employs was on the spot with his electronic gubbins about to issue a ticket. Before 10am on a quiet side street, no traffic around, but here is someone doing overtime and being paid by taxpayers to implement an inconsequential rule. Meanwhile, a hundred yards away, Denmark Street is constantly jammed solid as the interminable town centre “regeneration” grinds on and on. Never mind, WBC have rewarded its long-suffering residents by increasing Council Tax by 5.5%.

  43. Iain Gill
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Well individual engineers/town planners/etc who have designed proven accident blackspot after accident blackspot should be in court for causing death by negligence, as should the consulting companies they work for and the public sector that hire them. It is outrageous that drivers are persecuted for minor stuff while driving perfectly safely, and yet no matter how outrageous the death and destruction caused by road designers they never end up in court.

    We should also target some of the sillier fashions in the road world, like thinning roads down intentionally to obstruct traffic and supposedly discourage driving, especially when, for instance, on the main road from a big centre of population to the nearest A & E department. So that ambulances cannot get through in rush hour, or when a bin lorry is already in the road etc. Yet more lifes being wasted on the altar of road design political fashions.

    Indeed the name of the professional engineer who signs off each new road junction as safe should be in the public domain, so that the public can tie each new black spot back to the individuals concerned. And their professional body should be told in no uncertain terms we want standards improving.

    We also need to return to the days when the safe road path is obvious when there is a thin layer of snow, instead of the way many roads are setup now where anyone unfamiliar with the road will end up driving into traffic “calming” measures which become invisible with the thinnest layer of snow.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      I absolutely agree Iain.

  44. duncan
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink


    Today, we seeing this PM and her liberal left clique in this vile government intent on targeting anyone who dares express so called ‘right wing’ opinions

    What is the point of our party if it is not to stand up and protect our freedoms of speech?


    Depose this PM before she destroys the Tory party

    • APL
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink


      Duncan, frankly your use of the present tense in the above is wrong. ‘destroyed a once great political party’, would be more accurate.

  45. Andy
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Our roads are broken because our politics is broken.

    Political parties care only about power – consequently they think only about the next year or two.

    Infrastructure is a long term investment – requiring planning decades ahead. Consequently nobody in Westminster cares.

    Added to this most of the relevant ministers – of both parties – are genuinely clueless about (and not interested in) their brief.

    One of the few exceptions was Andrew Adonis. Whatever you think of him on other issues – he clearly knows his railways and roads.

    You do not need to look very far to see just how bad things here are. France has 2000 miles of high speed rail track. Spain several hundred miles worth too. We have just 67 miles of it.

    France built the Millau Viaduct – a staggering piece of (British designed engineering) which is basically a bypass for a town a fifth the size of Worcester. Here things of this ambition and scale never get built.

    China builds a new airport every few months. We’ve been talking about a third runway at Heathrow since I was a kid. I’m now 44.

    The Tories and Labour have failed us. And they’ve failed because Westminster is broken. We need PR – so we are all represented in government, not just the minority. An end to safe seats by imposing strict two term limits. A complete ban on MPs second jobs. And an age limit of 70 for MPs. Fix Britain. Drain the swamp.

    • Prigger
      Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      I saw Chris Graying Secretary of State for Transport answering detailed questions in a Parliamentary Committee on BBC Parliament not so long ago.
      Actually I was surprised at the detailed grasp he had of his subject which is full of very dry facts, figures,procedures. His MP questioners had lots of time in preparation for tripping him up and pushing him into obscure sidings of answers. He answered with ease.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Nothing to do with 8 million more people arriving in 20 years then.

      • Prigger
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Mrs May will destroy our economy very quickly and soon. She has now taken a course of action which Boris is in favour of and says “It will be painful to us..”..He meant economically. More than even Boris realises…economically..much more!
        Gosh they are SO naive!

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      “Here things of this ambition and scale never get built.” – now granted I can’t think of any big schemes in Cheshire or the North East but perhaps others can add them for you.

      Crossrail, £15bn the biggest addition to the London transport network in decades, increasing rail capacity in London by 10%!
      in Scotland – New £1.4 bn Queensferry Bridge 4 Aug 2017 – The new crossing will replace the existing road bridge as the main route between Edinburgh and Fife. New Forth crossing to open on 30 August.

  46. Alison
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Good evening!
    Two points:
    1) Canals. These wonderful routes, crossing the UK, with ingenious engineering, are a great way of getting goods which don’t have to be delivered in a hurry from A to B, and getting heavy freight off the roads – the heavy freight which batters the road surfaces so much.
    2) The quality of road repairs: we’ve had a cold winter throughout theUK, with lots of freezing temperatures, which cause expansion in the road surface (unless high-quality aggregates are used, freeze/thaw resistant). Here in Scotland we are plagued by poor-quality road repairs, even before freezing temperatures arrive. A major motorway, resurfaced for the first time for ?40 years – great testament to the quality of the original work – needed re-doing within weeks – subsidence, wear … I don’t know, but I suspect the higher-quality, freeze-resistant, tougher aggregates are not used. These higher-quality components provide significantly more durable surfaces – fewer road works, fewer car parks on motorways, fewer pot holes ….

  47. Raymond
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Each sentence of JR’s article on Roads merits a discussion. For instance, traffic growth has historically been driven by growth in disposable income (as people earned more so they could afford a car). In the 2000’s traffic growth is being driven by rising population. Road capacity increase has never (except during recession or war) kept pace with traffic growth. Therefore there is increasing demand for a scarce resource resulting in increasing congestion. As a solution Authorities promote a number of sustainable transport measures (e.g. encouraging public transport use , cycling, walking) but I think electronic road pricing provides a solution (at least in theory).

    • jerry
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink


      “Each sentence of JR’s article on Roads merits a discussion.”

      I agree, but try to and you’ll get your comment deleted…

      • Raymond
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        I have found in the past that most of my contributions have been published. When they have not it may have been because they were poorly written, politically incorrect, or for some other reason. But that’s fair enough. It is JR’s website after all, he is a prominent politician and it seems quite a lot of people read the articles he publishes on it.

        • jerry
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          @Raymond; That might well be so, sometimes.

          “It is JR’s website after all, he is a prominent politician and it seems quite a lot of people read the articles he publishes on it.”

          But he then does publish many off-topic and ‘spaced-out’ rants that do himself, his party and the right wing more harm then good when read by the very people who need convincing -those who are undecided floating voters. But as you say, it is his website, if he wants to associate himself with such people and thus take their flack…

  48. Dave , Spencers Wood
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Your party is in charge of all of this. Like every regime before you, you are doing what is always done. You take the motoring taxes and spend it on other things whether that is propping up the state pension, funding the NHS, Defence etc. You will always spend it on whatever you think you need to do to stay in power rather than keeping the infrastructure of state in good order.

    In the meantime, our roads deteriorate due to lack of spending in maintenance. The state of the roads in Berkshire is appalling. They are a pot-holed decaying mess. Thanks to the cuts in police numbers I can go weeks without seeing traffic police on my daily commute on the M4 and round the county. There is little or no deterrent for illegal drivers and overloaded truckers. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  49. a-tracy
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    politicians are very keen to measure everything from school performance to A&E waiting times, yet when do we hear about local government being monitored and compared? This is our money being spent too!

    Which Councils are spending excessively on their own salaries, pensions, benefits and perks plus consultants compared to each other? Including all contracted out services where the staff still have council pensions.
    Which Councils spend the most on their own premises, energy use, rents, maintenance and repairs?
    Which Councils support the highest Housing Benefit claims and how much are local taxes used to pay this?
    and on.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. 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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