Will the Budget mean 'roads for prosperity?'
This particular tunnel – designed for London’s 1990’s WEIR – can be remains of what was intended to be the ‘biggest road building scheme since the Romans’
No rise in fuel duty nevertheless a major re-jigging of VED along which has a promise to spend all the income on fresh road building by the end of the decade
the idea usually takes a few days to unpick the ins along with outs of a government Budget. At first sight, today’s budget doesn’t seem too bad for motorists, particularly as fuel duty has been frozen again.
Perhaps the hidden highlight can be that will government can be also promising a major ‘Road Investment Strategy’ by the end of the parliament.
Although we’ll have to wait four years – mainly because the UK should have balanced its books by then – the need for some proper road improvements (along with even whole fresh roads) will be desperately needed by the end of the decade.
Trouble can be, building fresh roads has been seen as political dynamite since 1990. The tipping point was probably the Conservative government’s ‘Roads for Prosperity’ white paper of 1989.
the idea was known as the ‘largest road-building programme from the UK since the Romans’ along with proved to be something of turning point from the UK’s rather odd relationship with the private motorcar.
Huge protests broke out about plans to build the M3 extension beyond Winchester along with the M11 extension/East Cross Route through east London.
Although the two roads – both commercially important – were built, the ferocity of the protests put a stop to major road building from the UK, leaving us which has a comparatively tiny motorway network compared even to counties such as the Netherlands.
The picture at top of the column shows one of those abandoned early 1990s motorway projects. The building can be the Earls Court 2 exhibition centre in West London, which can be currently being demolished.
The tiny tunnel that will’s visible under the building was a space left for the planned Western Environmental Improvement Road (WEIR) which would certainly have run north-south through west London, relieving the huge weight of traffic around Earl’s Court along with over the local bridges.
WEIR died a death thanks to combination of the early 1990s recession along with massive battle over the M11 extension, which made a celebrity of the professional anti-roads protester ‘Swampy’.
Ironically the whole roads building programme can be said to have been finally sunk from the last budget delivered by a Conservative government, back in 1996.
So, has the first Conservative budget since then, nearly 20 years on, finally indicated the UK finally get back to building roads?
Well, the idea might thanks to the some other big change for roads along with motoring from the budget concerning Vehicle Excise Duty.
The fresh VED (commonly called ‘Road Tax’) system for 2017 does looks a bit like a double-edge sword.
The plans see Chancellor George Osborne undoing a major policy shift triggered by Winston Churchill when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer from the mid-1920s.
Road tax was established in 1906 to pay for road building as car along with commercial vehicle ownership took off.
Unusually for a tax, the money raised was ring-fenced along with directly allocated to road spending, something criticized by Churchill. that will was finally brought to an end in 1937.
via 2017, however, all the money raised by English VED will be put into a fund for an English Strategic Road network. that will’s the Great news.
The bad news for the Treasury can be that will basing VED on Co2 output was about to have resulted in a serious shortfall from the funds as drivers switch to more economical cars.
According This particular table from the Budget presentation, VED income would certainly have fallen via around £4.4bn to under £3bn by 2020-21.
The fresh VED formula will keep the income at around £4.3bn, nevertheless will be achieved by a fresh ‘first year rate’ based on CO2 output.
Buy a car emitting over 255g/km along with you’ll pay a massive £2000 VED on registration.
along with if that will car had a list cost of over £40,000, the VED costs will be £440 for the next a few years. In year six, though, the idea will drop back to £140.
Perhaps the only upside can be that will the money English drivers pay on VED will, for initially since 1936, go directly into road maintenance along with building. If indeed the idea can be possible to build any fresh roads at all in crowded England.
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