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CBI calls for a strategic vision for roads

The CBI has slammed the government for failing to deliver a coherent plan for maintaining and improving the UK’s roads.

Speaking at the Highways Term Maintenance Association’s annual conference last week, CBI deputy director-General Neil Bentley said the Government lacked a strategic vision for the UK road network, despite the positive progress it has made on a National Infrastructure Plan and broader transport policy.

“Instead of a strategic vision, we have a policy of make-do and mend,” said Dr Bentley.

“£200m of investment in tackling potholes is welcome and vital to fix roads up and down the country, but it will not deliver the network-wide improvements we need.

“The lack of vision is tying us to a roads policy that is tentative, unplanned and – in the view of CBI members – consistently falling short.”

He added that investing in roads benefits the economy, and called on the Government to unlock the full potential of private capital and innovative finance mechanisms, including tax-incremental financing (TIF) schemes, to support investment in our road network. He also called for a debate on road charging.

Citing official estimates that road congestion costs UK businesses £8bn a year, a figure set to double by 2025 when road traffic will have increased by a third, Dr Bentley said: “The Government’s Plan for Growth, published with last month’s Budget, confirmed £30bn of transport investment over the next five years. We are pleased the Government has learnt from the long-term consequences of previous recessions and opted not to cut capital investment in transport completely.

“But the Government’s spending commitments need to be accompanied by a clear vision for the major road network. So we repeat our call for a national transport policy statement for our road and rail network to be delivered as a matter of urgency.”

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