COMMENTS ON A NEW DEAL FOR TRUNK ROADS IN
CHAPTER 1: A
I. We agree with the stated aim of having a
system that meets the needs of people and business at an affordable
cost, and that produces better places in which to live and work.
II. The criterion of "supporting sustainable
economic activity in appropriate locations and getting good value
for money" is one that we would very much support (see also
paragraph 5 above for the crucial importance of both location
and accessibility to business).
CHAPTER 2: TRUNK
Sections 2.2 and 2.3
III. For Trunk road planning we would
urge the conferences of local authorities to make fullest use
of appropriate business expertise in their deliberations. The
same applies to regional planning conferences.
IV. As to improving Access to everyday facilities,
there could be a conflict between any introduction of congestion
charging and the desire for thriving local facilities and shops
in town centres. Notwithstanding that some studies have shown
a potential for improved business in pedestrianised areas (e.g.
"Cities, towns strive to preserve centres", Alan Pike,
FT Survey, FT, 21 May 1998, page 1) we would not want any
great zeal for green transport policies to ultimately lead to
closed businesses and negative net effect on local economies.
V. Park and ride schemes are not necessarily
the perfect solution that some may believe. For instance, there
may be greater risk of theft or criminal damage to vehicles left
at such locations, and also there could be a displacement, rather
than diminution, of congestionfrom urban centres to suburban
CHAPTER 5: SUPPORTING
VI. The work of Regional Development Agencies
could be undermined if widely varying local transport policies
were to be adopted, making for a patchquilt of administrative
and practical difficulties from one local authority area to another
(see also paragraph 14 above).
VII. We note that nearly all local authorities
who responded to DETR's 1997 consultation document were "unwilling
to take individual radical action because it could put their area
at a competitive disadvantage" (paragraph 65 of the separate
document, The Government's Consultation on Developing an Integrated
Transport Policy: A Report, DETR, July 1998).
VIII. We support continued assessment of
the economic costs of traffic congestion on trunk roads to
better inform public policy-making in working to minimise these
costs. Additionally, we note that, in paragraph 7.14 of the separate
document, A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England: Understanding
the New Approach to Appraisal (DETR, July 1998), there is
reference to the current limited ability of techniques used in
regeneration appraisal to produce quantitative outcomes. Consequently
we would support the idea of research to refine these economic
appraisal techniques. Once again, however, we would question the
need to ask a new quangoa Commission for Integrated Transport
(as suggested in the further document, A New Deal for Trunk
Roads in England: Guidance on the New Approach to Appraisal,
DETR, July 1998, paragraph 1.14)to assist with this, given
the number of people in the public sector, academia and the private
sector who are involved in transport studies.
IX. Referring to the last-mentioned document,
we support the stated aims in paragraph 2.8 set out in support
of an efficient economy, in particular the aim of reducing road
users' journey times and vehicle operating costs.
CHAPTER 7: THE
X. It is good to see the priority being accorded
to trunk road maintenance. According to the Quarry Products
Association, it is a welcome trend to see plans to increase spending
(to levels closer to those of the early to mid 1990s), although
there were questions about how local roads were to be properly
maintained and improved, given that 98 per cent of the total road
network would soon come within the responsibility of local authorities
("The road ahead", Jerry McLaughlin, Asphalt Now,
Issue 3, Autumn 1998, page 3). This must be an area of concern
to very many IoD members, whose organisations are regular users
of local roads.
Sections 7.2 and 7.3
XI. We note with approval that it is intended
to explore new public-private partnerships such as road
Maintain Finance and Operate contracts and Regional Traffic Control
ANNEX A SUMMARY
XII. We note with interest that "Imposition
of a tax on private non-residential parking was suggested by a
fifth of the local authorities who responded, but by few other
respondents". Even taking account of the possibility that
this minority may have had particularly severe traffic
congestion, the consultation does not seem to give strong support
for the notion. Furthermore, it does not seem to bode well for
the Government's plans to ask councils to actually implement this
idea. It may show that there is little enthusiasm to implement
the charges after all. This is something we are rather pleased
about, from our members' recent expression of opinion on the White
Paper (see Annex A of this response).
XIII. We concur with the view that "the
car [is] seen as continuing to have a very important role in providing
access to remoter rural areas". We would ask all public policy-makers
to bear in mind before any sweeping introduction of workplace
parking charges, given that around 20 per cent of the population
of the United Kingdom live in rural areas or the rural fringes.
For example, figures for England and Wales alone showed that mid-1995
around 11 per cent of the population lived in district council
areas classified as remoter, mainly rural districts (Annual
Abstracts of Statistics 1997 Edition, edited by Daniel Wisniewski,
Office for National Statistics, TSO, 1997).