Are privatised roads coming courtesy of the Coalition government?

19 March 2012

Good news! David ‘Honest Dave’ Cameron is going to make the roads all better! Bad news! He’s planning to privatise the big roads and we’ll probably all end up paying more tolls as we endeavour to tootle about the land.

an off-road car, yesterday

The PM will later say that there is an urgent need to repair the “decades-long degradation” of the roads and to "build for the future with as much confidence and ambition as the Victorians once did". Good old Victorians.

Other big ideas such as widening ‘pinch points’ and allowing traffic to use the hard shoulder to increase capacity on busy roads will be thrown into the air like car-shaped confetti, along with a call for “innovative approaches” to finance it all – which will almost certainly mean privatising the more potentially-lucrative parts of our roadways.

In his speech, Cameron will say: “We now need to be more ambitious. Why is it that other infrastructure - for example water - is funded by private sector capital through privately owned, independently regulated, utilities... but roads in Britain call on the public finances for funding?”

He will then add: “And the fresh air. We need to have a rethink about how we manage its infrastructure in the future, as needs change. We’ll probably have another stab at selling the forests off first though – we almost pulled that one off last time around.” No he won’t – we made that bit up. Meanwhile, the NHS bill goes to the Lords this week, while we're all briefly talking about roads. Nice.

In response, Edmund King, President of the AA (yes, PRESIDENT) mumbled this about Honest Dave’s comparison with the ‘water industry’ (which isn’t really an industry when you think about carefully for about, oh, half a second): “Many consumers - drivers - will raise their eyebrows at that. In the water industry we saw big companies make big profits initially, at the same time as water and sewage costs went up by 42% and 36%.”

So then – privatised roads? More tolls? A good thing? Tell us, you big blethering bunch of road-users you.

TOPICS:   Motoring


  • Drunkmonkey
    A stretch of motorway coming to hotukdeals soon!
  • Fake B.
    That's nothing. In Burnley they introduced Trolls on the road.
  • jt
    "Why is it that other infrastructure – for example water – is funded by private sector capital through privately owned, independently regulated, utilities… but roads in Britain call on the public finances for funding?” Tell me Dave, why is it that we're facing a hosepipe ban while London's pipes leak millions of gallons of water? Why is it that foreign rail, water and power companies rip off customers to line shareholders pockets? Why is it you want to sell off the roads? Because the last Tory government sold off everything else?
  • Noghar
    I am a fart old enough to remember Cecil Parkinson on Newsnight insisting that privatising gas and electricity would lead to greater efficiency and smaller bills. The price of both fuels has gone up about 200% since then, and the only people better off are shareholders. Unbelievable the Tories pull the same shit decade after decade, selling off stuff we have already paid for and renting it back to us, and when Labour gets elected they never have the bottle to undo it.
  • MajorCakey
    So, honest Dave, where the fuck has my road tax been going for all these years if not to fix the roads, and if they do privatise roads, does that spell the end for road tax, oh i forgot that is called vehicle excise duty these days, perfect set up there Dave.
  • Noghar
    I am a fart
  • Joe
    Anyone who thinks this is a good idea is a total cunt.
  • corbyboy
    "… but roads in Britain call on the public finances for funding?" Does this question really need answering? Because the motorist pays an absolute fortune in tax. Asking for some of it to be used to pay for motoring related things seems pretty reasonable to me. If they scrap the tax disc and massively drop the tax on fuel then private tolls could be acceptable. But they can't have both at the same time.
  • Mike H.
    I want to know why people who use shitty little cars get to pay less road fund? They still use the same roads as much as any other motorist. Don't give me the gas-guzzler shite either, people with big cars have to pay more for fuel. So that's got fuck all to do with it.
  • Sicknote
    Yay....does this signal the end to the road fund license as I don't want to pay twice to use the roads.....?
  • Mike
    Hmmmn privatise our roadways due to lack of funding. Wasn't there a law passed in 1920 something I seem to recall regarding Vehicle Excise Duty commonly refered to as ROAD TAX! to pay for this. See for clarification:
  • Coedy
    Tolls are fine, but I'm not paying them as long as there is road tax.
  • Dick
    I'm all for private roads, so long as they are like private shops.
  • Honest D.
    Distract them from the NHS ? Privatise the Roads. Distract them from the Roads ? Introduce the Air Tax.
  • ShakesHeadSadly
    If this means private compaines can build new, optional roads, (Like the M6 Toll) then I'm all for it, but if it means selling off the existing roads, you can naff off! There are more cars on the road than ever. Where's all the road tax going?!?
  • klingelton
    As a former driver who has already been priced out of his car, I suspect this, coupled with the 3 pence increase in duty that will land in april will be the straw that broke the camels back. I suspect this WILL be the catalyst for a full scale riotous national kick off. Government bods - please understand that i am NOT using this form of social media to instigate rioting, but as a means of predicting the outcome of a hairbrained scheme.
  • Brad
  • Spacebeers
    Distract them from the NHS Privatise the Roads. ??? PROFIT!
  • speed m.
    So if the roads are private can we go any speed we like ? Does your insurance cover you for "private" roads ? Can I buy a stretch of road ?
  • Me
    Privatised roads will end up like privatised trains, buses water, electric, gas and soon the NHS and police work - ran by profit hungry idiots who fuck over their employees and customers all justified because they have shareholders. Haven't we yet learnt that in the UK privatised means substandard and overpriced? As each week of this coalition passes I hate more and more that I was dumb enough to vote for Clegg's Dim Plebs.
  • klingelton
    /me regrets being blue :( @ Spacebeers - you're right, never thought of it that way.
  • Dick
    I'd go to That London to protest, but it is too expensive to drive or take the train. And I am not going by coach. I still have some dignity.
  • Mr. P.
    A bloke on the radio said private companies could only add tolls to NEW roads, not the existing network. But if they add another lane to an existing motorway, does that then make it a new road?
  • shoplifter
    And also , if they tidy up existing roads or rename them , they can then charge on them ...welcome to the fucking nightmare
  • Clarkson
    I will buy them all. You lot can get the train, or walk.
  • Businessman
    Hi Sicknote don't worry mate. You will not have to pay twice to use the roads. What is actually happening is that you will pay twice to not be allowed to use the roads. Unless you pay a third time obviously. Is it clear now?
  • oliverreed
    @merchant, agree. The clear up charge after an accident with only certain recovery agencies being permitted onto the stretch of road, it could all get pretty nasty.
  • kipkop
    introducing toll houses ... the bane of 3rd world 'developing' countries.
  • Richard
    @Mike Hock People with higher emissions pay more for road tax because there is a negative externality to driving a car which increases as the emissions of your car increase and so higher road tax shifts some of the cost from this externality back to the consumer.

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