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The roads to power

Published on 28.04.15

With the election just around the corner, it’s time for the major parties to set out their stall and tell hard pressed motorists exactly what they are going to do to make our driving lives easier.

However, while transport is expected to be a major battleground in the run up to May 7th, roads don’t seem to be that high on the politicians’ agenda. Much is being made about public transport, including such hot potatoes as the HS2 rail link and the future of the rail network in general, but little is being said directly about our roads.

Policy headlines for motorists

The Conservatives say that they are committed to investing in road infrastructure, with flagship projects such as smart motorways. Labour, on the other hand, talk of a much fabled Integrated Transport Plan, which was an elusive holy grail long before the idea was mocked as impossible by Yes Minister in the 1980s.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), many people’s winner in the seven-way leaders debate, have promised more road improvements in Scotland, including a new Forth Bridge, while Plaid Cymru have similar plans for the principality.

The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party seem to have little time for car users, preferring to push public transport and cycling, while true to form, UKIP are promising to ensure continental lorry drivers pay more towards the upkeep of UK roads through a new ‘Britdisc’.

A master plan for roads?

In many ways, the current coalition government has already laid out its plans for Britain’s roads with a £15 billion road building and improvement plan announced in the Autumn Statement, which was described by Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, as “the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades”. But announcing plans and following them through are often very different things, especially in times of austerity and cuts.

While there is much talk about grand infrastructure projects, there appears to be little for the average motorist who is struggling to avoid the potholes on their way to work. Local authority funds are unlikely to be boosted whoever wins, leaving local roads as underfunded as ever.

This unsatisfactory situation prompted Edmund King, president of the AA, to comment: “We pay too much motoring tax, yet so little is spent on the roads”. The only party looking to reduce this is UKIP, who oppose road tolls and promise to let existing contracts run out until all British roads are free to use.

Watch this space

Naturally, more detailed transport policies will emerge over the course of the campaign, not least in the Opposition Debates on the BBC on April 16th and the Question Time Special on April 30th, so you should watch out for more motoring news. However, with budgets tight and cuts falling left, right and centre, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for much in the way good news for motorists whoever forms the new government this May.

Make your vote count

Although there appears to be little of direct benefit to the ordinary motorist, it is still crucial to make your vote count in the 2015 election. You can register to vote online in just a few minutes right up to the 20th April. Alternatively, you can check whether you are registered, or check if you are eligible to vote. Once registered, you can cast your vote at your local polling station anytime between 7am and 10pm, or alternatively, you can register to vote by post.

As many as 16 million registered voters didn’t vote in the last general election, and as many as 7.5million more were missing off the electoral role, which means that they didn’t have their say in who runs the country and how it is run.


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