A FAIR DEAL FOR THE MOTORIST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABDtoll50

POLL-AXED?

CREEPING ROADS SELL-OFF

LACKS DRIVER CONFIDENCE

 

An independent national opinion poll was carried out for the Alliance of British Drivers over issues raised by the Infrastructure Bill, and the related ĎCook Reportí on the future of Englandís roads.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

It would be seen as politically unacceptable for the government to privatise our roads and bring in a national road pricing (aka tolling) scheme in one go.

 

However, the government overwhelmingly accepted the Cook Report on changes to the way Englandís main roads are run, including sweating the maximum return out of them and consideration of road tolls.

 

On 6 June 2014, it launched the controversial Infrastructure Bill in the House of Lords. It plans to replace the Highways Agency, the government department in charge of these roads, with a company, at first state-owned.

 

The independent poll showed that over three-quarters (78%) of drivers were unaware of the proposed changes to managing these roads. We could see the roads carved-up to a number of outsourcing companies, who will be out to make a profit.The Bill worryingly sets up powers to apply a toll.

 

 

ROAD PRICING CONCERNS

 

When the previous government moved to bring in road pricing, the ABDís Peter Roberts launched his famous petition against it. Over 1.8 million people signed it, as concerned about journey tracking and privacy as the effect on their pockets.

 

The independent poll reflects similar concerns where main roads might be run by a company:

  • 64% felt that if they had to pay tolls on roads that are currently free, it would affect their standard of living, and only 13% disagreed.
  • 77% would respond to tolls by changing their journeys to untolled roads, which might be less suitable. Only 6% would not.
  • By a margin of 64% to 17%, drivers had concerns about their private journeys being recorded by a new roads management company.
  • By a margin of 62% to 18%, drivers might object to their personal data being used to target them with advertising. (This was not explicitly proposed in the Cook Report, but might be an example of asset-sweating.)
  • By a margin of 53% to 25%, drivers would not want transport ministers to offload responsibilities for our vital main roads to such a company, as hinted by the Cook Report.
  • It is established practice not to attach undue weight to voting intentions, but by way of illustration, 71% felt they would be less likely to vote for a party that allowed roads that are currently not tolled to become tolled. Only 7% disagreed.

 

Does the government really wish to go against the grain of public opinion in the year before another election?

 

 

GOVERNMENT MIS-REPRESENTING DRIVERS?

 

Despite the fact that 5 of every 6 journeys are made by car or van, this government has allowed itself to be preoccupied with rail, not least the costly white elephant HS2.

 

Another indication that it is becoming adrift from the concerns of Britainís 33 million drivers. Is the proposal in the Bill to have a rail passengersí group look after driversí interests, something in which it has no experience whatsoever.

 

The independent poll asked drivers to indicate which groups they might be inclined to trust or distrust to represent them. In descending order....

Trust%

Distrust%

Net%

An independent motoristsí group

67

6

61

A motoring breakdown company

49

15

34

A Chief Police Officersí group

30

31

-1

A railways passengersí group expanding to represent motorists as well

26

30

-4

A campaign to stop road building expanding to represent motorists as well

22

34

-12

A group promoting speed cameras expanding to represent motorists as well

24

40

-16

Insurance companies

21

47

-26

 

 

Ironically, the one option that the government has not seriously considered to represent drivers is the independent motoristsí group!When the grass-roots Alliance of British Drivers applied to join the governmentís Motoristsí Forum, the latter responded that it already had enough members!

 

The Motoristsí Forum includes representatives of... insurance companies, a group promoting speed cameras, a campaign to stop road building, a Chief Police Officersí group, and a company providing motoring breakdown services!

 

 

DRIVER SATISFACTION AND AWARENESS

 

Before answering any other questions, drivers were asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with Englandís main roads

Satisfied%

Dissatisfied%

Donít Know/No view%

All drivers, UK based

36

40

†††††††††††††† ††† 24

Drivers in England

38

44

†††††††††††††† ††† 19

Drivers in England, but outside London

31

50

†††††††††††††† ††† 20

NB Figures may not add up to 100% because of rounding

 

The independent poll also showed that two-thirds (67%) of drivers were unaware that in broad terms, drivers pay about £50 billion a year in taxes, whereas about £10 billion a year is spent back on roads.

 

 

FOOTNOTE

 

A leading industry polling company conducted an online poll involving 1537 drivers (most of whom drive regularly) between 15-17 July 2014. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. Although the focus of the poll was main roads in England, drivers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were also included. This is both because they might drive on English roads, and because their MPs will have a vote on the Infrastructure Bill.

 

 

 

 

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