Biggest Waste of Money in a Generation

A regressive plan to waste £15 billion by the end of the decade to increase traffic on England’s roads, was announced to Parliament today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. For the official Government press release please click here. Warning: this document may contact misinformation, spin, half-truths, misleading propaganda and downright lies. I have edited it below, removing all the lies and spin to give a more accurate picture. Enjoy.

roads_report_thumb_nov12

The government is borrowing money to finance more than 100 new road schemes over this parliament and next, 84 of which are brand new today.

Over 1,300 new lane miles will be added by schemes being delivered over the next parliament on motorways and trunk roads, exacerbating congestion and shifting some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the network, to other areas. With 90% of journeys already taking place on our roads, this work will do nothing to help people get on and get around, and further increase our dependence on cars. 

These plans are published today in the first ever Road Investment Strategy (apart from the previous one of a different name), which has been developed to keep the population dependent on fossil fuels and the old economy alive.

This includes £1.5 billion of spending money we don’t have to add an extra lane onto key motorways to turn them into Smart motorways (whatever that means) between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

“Today I am setting out the biggest, costliest and most foolish roads programme for decades. It will dramatically undermine our public transport network and make it impossible for us to meet Britain’s carbon reduction targets.

“New roads are a barrier to our nation’s wellbeing. For too long they have been prioritised over protecting the environment.

“This government has a short term plan to put the country’s future at risk and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. More roads breed more traffic, and undermine local bus services which the poor rely on to travel for jobs and other opportunities across the country.”

Spending during the next parliament on England’s roads network will be increased further by maintenance funding worth more than £10bn across the local and national road network, unless we decide after the election that this funding will be cut.

New projects announced today include:

  • South West: a promise of £2 billion (of other people’s money) to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow people to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Lands End, something they will have to do if they want to visit Cornwall because the railway line keeps getting damaged by climate change;
  • North East: setting aside £290 million (of money cut from the region’s council budgets for essential services) to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, just 25 miles from the Scottish border, a Great Mistake;
  • North West and Yorkshire: driving environmental destruction in the Desolate North by completing the smart motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds, together with more widening from Manchester to Sheffield, the biggest mistake in transpennine capacity since 1971;
  • North West: committing to wasting some money on the Port of Liverpool after a previous Tory government largely destroyed its economy, as part of a plan of 12 projects designed to improve access to major international gateways on which the nation’s international trade deficit depends;
  • South East: funding £350 million of money we don’t have to the A27 along the south coast, increasing congestion on all the other roads around Arundel, Worthing and Lewes – consulting with the local community on options we’ve already decided on;
  • East of England: wasting another £300 million on the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling sections of the A47 and re-doing its connections to the A1 and A11, following the recently completed full dualling of the A11 from London to Norwich, to ensure everyone going to the east of England goes by car;
  • London and the South East: reworking one-third of the junctions on the entire M25, to make frustrated commuters get stuck in roadworks around the capital; and
  • Midlands: doing a whole load of damaging and wasteful things around Birmingham.

Chair of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said:

Twentieth century infrastructure inevitably means a twentieth century economy, but this project sucks in other ways to. It destoys communities and gives people fewer opportunities to get on in life. This is why I have ensured that this government has prioritised funding roads over railways, at a high level for future generations.

“For decades our roads have prioritised the needs of cars above all else, so I’m going to continue that trend and announce this expansive range of car-focussed road schemes today. Investment on this scale is only possible because we have taken the difficult decision to borrow more money because we have been unable to stick to our recovery plan, which is only delivering strong growth in the numbers of zero-hours contracts and part-time and temporary jobs rather than the stable, permanent and full time ones that people need.

“These projects, like the scheme on the A303, will destroy beautiful parts of the countryside and negatively impact both the public finances and the overall economy.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

”Our long term borrowing plan means today we can give an unprecedented £15 billion to our mates to improve their balance sheets and expand their profits.

“Our plans will transform the net worth of some of the country’s most wealthy people, with misguided projects to dual the A303, A1, A27 and the A47 as well as wasting money that could be used for more important local infrastructure to boost productivity and help local economies.

“For years the alternatives to cars have been neglected. Because this government has failed to fix the budget deficit, we cannot afford to invest properly in anything – but we’re going ahead anyway, locking jobs in the past, mortgaging the future and causing national growth in CO2 emissions by creating a road network that is only fit for the private car.”

As well as increasing congestion and shifting the problems on the busiest sections of the network, the government is transforming the Highways Agency into a government-owned company; this will mean we can privatise it in the future, and our mates can make at least £2.6 billion over the next ten years.

The strategy also contains measures to appease the communities affected by road upgrades, including:

  •  a comparably small amount, which we may later remove, to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a promise (which we may later retract) to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed;
  • £300 million environmental fund, which we may later remove, to mitigate a small fraction of the extra carbon emissions and slightly reduce the large number of people affected by serious noise as a result of our road-building. This fund will create new charge points for Low Emission Vehicles every 20 miles across the road network, as well as attempt to repair small pockets of the landscape we just destroyed, protect sites of cultural or historic heritage until such time as we decide to bulldoze through them, and slightly reduce the huge impact of building new roads on wildlife, countryside and habitats; and
  • £100 million to our mates for cheap housing developments, many of which will probably end up on flood plains and become increasingly likely to flood as a result of our policies
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