Tag Archives: transport

If these lies are all Johnson has, Sadiq Khan is on course for a second term as London mayor

Boris Johnson used Prime Minister’s Questions to launch an unwise and unmerited two-pronged attack on London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

First he said that financial problems suffered by Transport for London (TfL) were Khan’s fault.

The Department for Transport is, it seems, refusing to provide £5.65 billion to keep TfL running after it suffered huge losses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. It is offering a “papering-over-the-cracks” funding package that comes with a demand that Khan accepts measures including higher council tax, a larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares – including the removal of free travel for children and young people. Otherwise, the threat is that the Westminster government will take over control of TfL from City Hall.

Asked if he was going to inflict a congestion charge on four million Londoners who had already been afflicted with Covid-19 and financial ruin, Johnson said: “The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances… Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.”

Responding to a further question from Tory Bob Blackman, Johnson became extremely concerned with self-justification: “The black hole in [the] finances of TfL, the bankruptcy of TfL, which, by the way, was left in robust financial health by the previous Mayor—it certainly was—is entirely the fault of the current Labour Mayor of London, with his grossly irresponsible demagogic fare policies, which, I may say, were never pursued by the previous Mayor of London, and the fault lies entirely with him.”

But Johnson’s claims were put to rest within minutes by the fact-checkers at the BBC’s Politics Live:

Khan himself brought figures directly relating to TfL to TV audiences later:

Not satisfied with one lie, Johnson also used PMQs to claim that Hammersmith Bridge is falling down because of Khan’s “incompetence”: “Hammersmith bridge has been closed thanks entirely to the incompetence of the current Labour Mayor of London, and that Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate, is going to reopen it, which is the best thing possible.”

In fact, the incompetent who failed to repair the bridge at the right time was Boris Johnson himself.

The bridge was built 133 years ago and is structurally unsafe after decades of failure – by successive political authorities – to repair it while traffic for which it was never intended used it.

It was closed in 2014 and repairs could have been authorised in 2016 – but the mayor at the time – Boris Johnson – refused to authorise them.

Instead, Boris Johnson spent around £50 million on consultants working on his vanity ‘Garden Bridge’ project that was ultimately cancelled.

Oh, and didn’t a bomb go off there as well?

The public were having none of Boris Johnson‘s lies:

Shaun Bailey has agreed that he would re-open Hammersmith Bridge if he became London Mayor…

… he just didn’t say he would repair it first. So members of the public have drawn their own conclusions about what he would do:

Yes indeed: “Shaun Bailey will probably suggest a zip wire across the river.”

The issue of the bridge can be summed up in this tweet:

That’s right – Boris Johnson can indeed make it up. And he did.

But we know the facts. All he has done is show the world he’s the stupidest kind of liar – and that his lickspittle Bailey should never be given elected office anywhere.

When Khan became London Mayor, he was voted in with the highest personal mandate of any UK politician in history.

Johnson’s words today may help ensure that he is re-elected with a mandate that is even higher.

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Here’s the reason it is impossible to treat the plague in a post-truth country

The United Kingdom is never going to get to grips with Covid-19 if its government ministers continue to lie about it.

Grant Shapps – a man well-known for playing fast-and-loose with the facts – was up to his old tricks at a press briefing last week when, as Transport Secretary, he claimed trains were not overcrowded since the Tories ordered people back to work, despite numerous photos of overcrowded trains.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

That looks pretty crowded – and this was the Victoria Line. The Central Line at the height of rush hour must be a nightmare.

Bear in mind that social distancing rules still apply and we are supposed to stay at least two metres away from other people.

Shapps claimed that tube trains have been at just five per cent occupancy – which leads This Writer to wonder whether he has been averaging out usage over each 24-hour period, rather than examining the situation at times when people are most likely to be infected by close proximity to others.

He has announced that it will be mandatory to wear face masks on public transport from June 15, when the government intends to ease lockdown restrictions further and send more people back to work.

There is no justification for such easing; the nation remains at Covid alert level 4, meaning the virus remains at large and its reproduction rate is increasing.

But this is a government that won’t accept our truth; it is too busy pushing its own on us.

So snake-oil salesman Shapps told us, in very poor English: “In fact, there hasn’t been very much crowding situation going on.

“It’s not the case … that transport’s been overcrowded. We’ve been watching it very carefully.”

He continued to deny the facts, despite being shown photographic evidence of overcrowding on trains, taken on different days since the lockdown was eased:

“We tracked it on a day by day basis.

“I can literally tell you the trains where there was an issue, because the train was broken down, or Canning Town [in east London], where those pictures were shared very widely.

“But actually the broad picture is there have been one or two people sitting in carriages a lot of the time.”

What can you do, in the face of such blatant denial of the facts from a government minister who is hell-bent on exposing you to a killer disease?

What will you do?

Source: Grant Shapps claims trains aren’t overcrowded despite photos of overcrowded trains – Mirror Online

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Johnson’s latest Covid-19 demand will make us ALL look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’

If we’re going to wear face masks, let’s wear these: they were seized by US authorities during the George Floyd protests, to stop demonstrators protecting themselves from Covid-19 and are going spare. Can an enterprising entrepreneur please import them?

Funny how the things we say come back to haunt us.

Boris Johnson infamously said that Muslim women who wear the burqa look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” in an Islamophobic newspaper column of a couple of years ago.

But now his government has issued a decree that we should all wear face-coverings when we leave the house, starting on June 15.

The response has been logical:

The answer is that it has been deemed necessary for people to wear face coverings as more of the UK’s workforce return to their place of employment due to the government’s unaccountable decision to ease lockdown while Covid-19 infections are still increasing (as shown by the fact that we are still at alert level 4).

The simple fact is that anybody in public should be wearing them anyway:

The advice is to make masks at home, but I have a better idea.

If you read the caption under the image at the top of this article, you’ll know that US law enforcement officials seized masks that were intended to protect people from Covid-19 during anti-racism protests in that country. They are emblazoned with the words “Stop killing black people”.

Over here in the UK, government policy has led to a situation in which black people and other ethnic minorities are four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the rest of us. The government suppressed a report on the reasons for this.

My suggestion is, wouldn’t it be a great idea to offer to take these masks off American hands and wear them ourselves – as a reminder to Boris Johnson that even his plans for dealing with the pandemic are racist?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Labour plans ‘biggest devolution of economic power and funding for generations’

Ed Balls: He wants to put £30 billion worth of infrastructure funding into the hands of local government.

Ed Balls: He wants to put £30 billion worth of infrastructure funding into the hands of local government.

Today’s most interesting election announcement comes from Labour, which is promising to deliver “the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations”.

Plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over five years – including funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills – will be at the heart of the next Labour government’s Spending Review, if elected in May.

A Labour Treasury will allow city and county regions which come together in combined authorities to keep 100 per cent of extra business rates revenue generated by additional growth. They will then be able to invest this to support further business growth in their regions.

All areas will be able to access these freedoms and areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor will not get a second-class deal.

It’s a clear attack on George Osborne’s plan for a “northern powerhouse” – Labour is asking, why just concentrate on ‘The North’ when so many other areas outside London need help due to Tory economic mismanagement?

It is to be hoped that Labour has not forgotten its support base in this business-friendly frenzy. Will this funding be used to promote the Living Wage, for example? Will it be used to create the new work demanded by its jobs guarantee – and will they be permanent, well-paying careers?

“Local areas will be in the driving seat on key decisions affecting their local economies – with new powers over back-to-work schemes, to drive house building, and to integrate, invest in and plan transport infrastructure,” said shadow chancellor Ed Balls, ahead of today’s announcement. It seems Labour has picked up a trick from the Tories – if this scheme fails anywhere, they will be able to blame it on local government. Hmm.

“And we will also let city and county regions keep all the additional business rates revenue generated by growth… We will not only back our great cities, but our towns and county regions too. Not just urban areas, but also rural areas.”

So there is much to recommend this plan – if a Labour government in Westminster can co-ordinate successfully with local authorities, of all colours, in the regions.

Or is this building castles in the air?

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Labour pledges new support for family carers

Suffering: If fibromyalgia displayed visible signs, this is how a sufferer would look. Imagine how such a person would feel - physically and emotionally - if they were left alone this Christmas. Too much trouble for family; no fair-weather friends left; and a government that won't even investigate if they were found dead after the holidays.

Suffering: Mrs Mike has fibromyalgia which – if it were visible – would look like this (according to the experts).

You don’t get this kind of offer from the Conservatives, Lib Dems or other right-wingers, you know.

The Labour Party is announcing a new package of support to help England’s 5.4 million unpaid family carers.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, today set out the party’s plans, if it is elected to government in May.

The package of measures includes:

  • A new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and a new right for carers to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating.
  • A single point of contact with care services for families caring for people with the greatest needs, so they don’t have to battle different parts of the system.
  • Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers’ breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers.
  • Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of ‘adjustment leave’ to help families cope with a short-term crisis.
  • Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, by including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions.
  • Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need.

Ms Kendall said: “Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. This can often be a real struggle and many families feel pushed to breaking point.

“Too often carers have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.

“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.

“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”

Experienced Vox Political readers will know that this writer is a carer. Looking at what Ms Kendall said – yes, I had to give up my job to become a full-time carer (not a hardship as the pay and conditions were miserable); no, I don’t get any breaks – the last holiday I had was in 2002; no, I get very little in return – especially from the current government.

There is support already available via the local carers’ service, and it is to be hoped that these proposals – if implemented under a future Labour government, will supplement that service.

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Conservatives try to become the party of the North East – Unemployed in Tyne and Wear

Here’s something unintendedly humorous, flagged up by Unemployed in Tyne and Wear from an article in yesterday’s (October 5) Newcastle Evening Chronicle:

Is there a General Election on the horizon or something ? The Tories are getting all concerned about the North East.

Growing the economy in the North of England and closing the wealth divide with London and the south east was one of the major themes of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham… The focus may seem surprising given that the party has few MPs in the North East.

The Chancellor’s plan is to turn the North into an economic powerhouse rivalling London by investing up to £15 billion on local transport links, picking a scientific speciality for universities to become world-leaders in, possibly building a high speed line across the Pennines, linking the North East and North West, and giving cities more autonomy and cash – if they agree to transform local government by introducing directly-elected mayors.

Major announcements at the conference included plans to freeze working-age benefits – including benefits received by working people on low salaries – for two years. This means cutting benefits in real terms, because of the effects of inflation.

Conservative leader David Cameron, in his conference speech, announced plans to raise the income tax personal allowance to £12,500. This would take one million more workers out of income tax entirely and give a tax cut to 30 million more, Mr Cameron said. An estimated 51,000 North East workers would pay no income tax at all because of the change. Many others would pay less tax. Isn’t this because wages are so poor to start with ?

Mr Cameron also announced plans to raise the threshold at which people pay the 40p income tax rate from £41,900 today to £50,000. It means a tax cut for many people earning above-average salaries. Mr Cameron said the 40p tax was supposed to be for the rich, but it’s currently paid by some senior nurses, teachers and police officers.

But critics pointed out that the Conservatives had failed to explain how they would pay the £7 billion cost of cutting tax.

Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said: “Nobody will be fooled by pie in the sky promises of tax cuts in six years’ time when David Cameron cannot tell us where the money is coming from.

“Even the Tories admit this is an unfunded commitment of over £7 billion, so how will they pay for it? Will they raise VAT on families and pensioners again?”

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Here’s why Cameron’s so quiet about the Chinese crackdown on demonstrations. They own him – Pride’s Purge

So much for democracy: Reports say China's rulers have blocked Instagram in a bid to stop images of Hong Kong riot police unloading canisters of pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of peaceful demonstrators - so here's a nice shot of demonstrators handing out pro-democracy leaflets instead.

So much for democracy: Reports say China’s rulers have blocked Instagram in a bid to stop images of Hong Kong riot police unloading canisters of pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of peaceful demonstrators – so here’s a nice shot of demonstrators handing out pro-democracy leaflets instead.

Hot on the heels of Vox Political‘s article stating that the Conservatives have been selling off the UK’s most important infrastructure to anyone with something that can be used as currency in their pocket comes this confirmation from Pride’s Purge:

The only official protest about the democracy demonstrations taking place in China at the moment has come from Deputy PM Nick Clegg.

Not a peep from Cameron or Osborne.

Could this be connected to the fact that Cameron and Osborne have been selling off our essential infrastructure to the Chinese, who now own large parts of our water, electricity and gas supplies?

In December last year Cameron went to China, to persuade the Chinese government to buy up invest in Britain.

Chinese organisations and businesses with close links to the Chinese Communist leadership have already large stakes and controlling interests in huge parts of UK essential infrastructure such as water, gas, electricity, telecommunications and transport.

Read the rest on Pride’s Purge. The article concludes:

“If so many people are concerned about the loss of UK sovereignty to the EU – shouldn’t we be having a referendum on the loss of our sovereignty to the Chinese too?”

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Assembly member lives on benefits to experience the effects of ‘welfare reform’

The day job: Rebecca Evans AM in the more familiar environment of the Assembly debating chamber [Image: ITV].

The day job: Rebecca Evans AM in the more familiar environment of the Assembly debating chamber [Image: ITV].

I wanted to share this with you because, as a constituent and a member of the Labour Party, I’m quite proud of Mid and West Wales Labour AM Rebecca Evans, who spent a week living on an amount equivalent to Jobseekers’ Allowance and discussing ‘welfare reform’ with people who deal with its effects on a day-to-day basis, to find out what it is like.

She wrote an article about her experience for Wales Online which I am taking the liberty of excerpting here. Over to you, Rebecca:

With the average household in Wales expected to lose 4.1 per cent of their income due to policy changes, support is vital for those living on the poverty line.

Although people are understandably cynical when politicians attempt to live life on the breadline, I wanted to raise awareness of the challenges facing welfare claimants and gain a better understanding of how well understood the changes are.

Living off £72.40 for one week, I did not expect to truly experience the day-to-day life of people who rely on welfare support. I was aware that when Monday came around I would step back into my normal routine. But I wanted to experience at least some of the challenges and difficult decisions facing many thousands of people every day.

The Your Benefits are Changing money advice team calculated that the average weekly expenditure for someone living off Jobseeker’s Allowance in my home area of Carmarthenshire leaves just £13.58 for food and essentials once transport costs, utilities, the TV licence, phone bills and the bedroom tax have been paid – which equates to less than £2 a day.

On this income, any trip to the supermarket becomes a stressful task as every single penny matters.

When speaking with job seekers, food bank volunteers, YBAC money advisors and housing association staff and tenants during the week, the message was the same: people are struggling and many have had their lives irrevocably damaged by welfare policies.

The Bedroom Tax has had a serious impact on thousands of people across Wales, and the shortage of suitable housing has only enhanced poverty levels. Brought in as part of the Welfare Reform Act… the policy is estimated to have affected 36,000 tenants in the social housing sector, including 3,500 disabled households. As a direct result… housing association tenants accrued £1.1 million in arrears during the first six months.

Housing associations are rightly concerned that a move to monthly payments will prove incredibly challenging for those on low incomes, leading to an increase in the number of people that turn to emergency food supplies.

A YBAC money advisor told me food poverty levels can be worse for people who live on housing estates because they may only have one shop within walking distance, and that shop may have limited discounts. Food prices have risen by 12 per cent since 2007, so it is no surprise 900,000 people across the UK have turned to food banks in the past year… but the fact that we need food banks in 21st never ceases to be shocking.

The families I met during my week on benefits rely on second hand clothes and goods, and rarely buy anything new – let alone any kind of treats. They try to put aside £20 a week, but unexpected emergencies leave them unable to save.

A YBAC money advisor told me that around a quarter of people seeking advice are actually in work, and that the majority of children in poverty live in a household where one adult works. One mum with a young baby told me that her husband is on a zero-hour contract, meaning that the family can’t plan financially with any certainty.

This smashes the myth that welfare reform is all about supporting the unemployed back to work.

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‘Gagging Bill’ put on hold as government fears defeat

[Picture: PR Week]

[Picture: PR Week]

The Coalition government’s latest attack on democracy has been halted before it reached the House of Lords, after ministers realised peers weren’t going to put up with it.

The ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration’ Bill was due to be discussed by peers this week, but the part dealing with third-party campaigning such as that carried out by charities and popular organisations has been put back until December 16 after a threat to delay the entire bill for three months.

The government wants to “rethink” its plans to restrict campaigning by charities, it seems. Hasn’t it already done so twice before?

Andrew Lansley tabled a series of amendments, including one reverting to wording set out in existing legislation, defining controlled expenditure as any “which can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success”, on September 6.

But the plan was still to “bring down the national spending limit for third parties, introduce constituency spending limits and extend the definition of controlled expenditure to cover more than just election material, to include rallies, transport and press conferences”, as clarified by the government’s own press release.

Lansley published further amendments on September 26, claiming that these would:

  • Remove the additional test of “otherwise enhancing the standing of a party or candidates”. This is to provide further reassurance to campaigners as to the test they have to meet in order to incur controlled expenditure. A third party will only be subject to regulation where its campaign can reasonably be regarded as intended to “promote or procure the electoral success” of a party of candidate,
  • Replace the separate listings for advertising, unsolicited material and manifesto/policy documents with election “material”; this is the language used in the current legislation that non-party campaigners and the Electoral Commission are already familiar with, and on which the Electoral Commission have existing guidance,
  • Make clear that it is public rallies and events that are being regulated; meetings or events just for an organisation’s members or supporters will not be captured by the bill. “We will also provide an exemption for annual events – such as an organisation’s annual conference”,
  • Ensure that non–party campaigners who respond to ad hoc media questions on specific policy issues are not captured by the bill, whilst still capturing press conferences and other organised media events, and
  • Ensure that all “market research or canvassing” which promotes electoral success is regulated.

But this blog reported at the time that anyone who thinks that is all that’s wrong with the bill is as gullible as Lansley intends them to be.

As reported here on September 4, the bill is an attempt to stifle political commentary from organisations and individuals.

New regulations for trade unions mean members could be blacklisted – denied jobs simply because of their membership.

Measures against lobbyists – the bill’s apparent reason for existing – are expected to do nothing to hinder Big Money’s access to politicians, and in fact are likely to accelerate the process, turning Parliamentarians into corporate poodles.

Where the public wanted a curb on corporations corruptly influencing the government, it is instead offering to rub that influence in our faces.

In fact, the Government’s proposed register would cover fewer lobbyists than the existing, voluntary, register run by the UK Public Affairs Council.

And now a bill tabled by Andrew Lansley has been given a “pause” for reconsideration. Is anybody else reminded of the “pause” that took place while Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act was going through Parliament? In the end, the government pushed it through, regardless of the screams of outrage from the medical profession and the general public, and now private health firms are carving up the English NHS for their own profit, using Freedom of Information requests to undermine public sector bids for services.

In the Lords last night, according to The Independent, ministers were pressured to include in-house company lobbyists in the proposed register, if it is to have any credibility.

But Lord Wallace said the proposed “light touch” system would be more effective and the register was designed to address the problem of consultant lobbying firms seeing ministers without it being clear who they represented – in other words, it is intended to address a matter that isn’t bothering anybody, rather than the huge problem of companies getting their chequebooks out and paying for laws that give them an advantage.

We should be grateful for the delay – it gives us all another chance to contact Lords, constituency MPs and ministers to demand an explanation for this rotten piece of legal trash.

If they persist in supporting this undemocratic attack on free speech, then they must pay for it at the next election.

Government signals biggest disaster ever for Britain’s roads – privatisation

Gridlock: Under Coalition plans for transport, motorways and major 'A' roads will be clear - but the roads YOU use will look like this.

Gridlock: Under Coalition plans for transport, motorways and major ‘A’ roads will be clear – but the roads YOU use will look like this.

The Highways Agency is to be privatised, according to new government plans for the biggest disaster in the history of motoring in the UK.

The agency was formed under the last full Tory government in 1994 and operates, maintains and improves (ha ha) the strategic road network – the motorways and major ‘A’ roads that take one-third of the nation’s traffic, in terms of mileage. These are your roads – you pay for them with your taxes. They do not belong to the Conservatives and selling them off is nothing less than the theft of national assets.

The change should signal an end to Vehicle Excise Duty, otherwise known as road tax – but there is no mention of this in the Coalition government’s press release, so it seems likely that the Tories in charge of this project are hoping to siphon your tax money into private hands as profit again, as was the aim with their NHS privatisation.

It may also signal the arrival of tolls on the major roads, creating a two-tier road system: The motorways and ‘A’ roads for rich people and wealthy corporations; the other roads for less wealthy private citizens and smaller firms. Of course the other roads, maintained by local councils, will go to wrack and ruin as they become more clogged with traffic and the surfaces are worn down.

The press release states that the “reforms” (ha ha) will be “tackling decades of underinvestment in roads” and will be “backed by legislation” to ensure “future governments cannot walk away from these commitments”. That’s a mistake – no government may be tied by the decisions of its predecessor and the Coalition knows this. If Labour gets in, it could reverse everything.

The Coalition wants to make the Highways Agency an attractive prize for private investors, which is why it is providing – out of your tax money – “additional funding of £500 million for electric vehicles and £12 billion for road maintenance and resurfacing”.

(Chris Davies: Think how many hospitals you could build for £12.5 billion… Oh, but no – this is money for rich people so you couldn’t possibly contemplate putting it to good use!)

In order to sweeten the deal for future shareholders, the press release says “motorways and trunk roads will get extra lanes, smoother, quieter surfaces, improved junctions and new sections in key areas under the plan published today (16 July 2013) by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin”.

The £28 billion of total investment – £28 billion in a time of austerity that THEY have forced on US! Michael Meacher was right when he wrote “amazing how austerity is irrelevant when the government wants it to be” – includes “a trebling of funding for motorways and major A-roads… the biggest ever upgrade of the existing network.

“The focus will be on cutting congestion and minimising the environmental impact of roads, including an extra £500 million to make Britain a world leader in electric vehicle technology,” the press release says. The congestion will go onto the network of lesser ‘A’ roads, ‘B’ roads and the rest. Result: You will be late for work.

The release foolishly adds: “These measures complement record investment in rail” – an own-goal, considering the railways were sold off in the 1990s and cost the taxpayer more money now, in real terms, than we were paying for them then.

The government’s new command paper, ‘Action for roads’ details plans to turn the Highways Agency into a publicly-owned company with six-year funding certainty for capital projects and maintenance – underpinned by legislation “so future governments cannot walk away from these commitments”. This is impossible to guarantee. Why should a future government not simply repeal any such legislation?

“It is estimated that the reforms could save £600 million for the taxpayer.” Which taxpayer? The taxpayer having to pay road tax for improvements to routes s/he can no longer afford to use? The taxpayer having to use increasingly run-down minor roads to get about and having to pay more in Council Tax for repairs? The taxpayer in danger of losing their job because of lateness caused by increased congestion on those minor roads? Or the taxpayer who just had a £100,000 tax cut on their more-than-£1 million-a-year earnings?

You’d have to be really stupid to say this was a good idea.

“Today’s changes will bring an end to the short-term thinking that has blighted investment in England’s roads so that we can deliver the infrastructure our economy needs. Backed by the government’s £28 billion commitment, they will give us a road network fit for the 21st century and beyond,” said Mr McLoughlin.

“Our major roads are vital to the prosperity of our nation, connecting people to jobs and businesses to markets. They carry a third of all traffic and two thirds of all freight traffic but in recent decades we have failed to invest properly in them.

“That underinvestment has seen us fall behind many of our economic competitors. Since 1990, France has built more motorway miles than exist on our entire network, while Canada, Japan and Australia all spend four times more on their roads than we do.”

All of this reminds me very much of Ben Elton’s novel, Gridlock. Do you remember it? Here’s the reason, quoted from The Politics of Mobility: Transport, the Environment, and Public Policy by Geoff Vigar, page 175:

“The Minister of Transport, Digby Parkhurst, is portrayed as being in the pocket of the roads lobby, and a mythical ‘Global Motors Corporation’ in particular. This fictional association reflects a general view amongst many outside the transport policy world that the roads lobby has a relationship with central government transport officials that borders on the classic corporatist ‘iron triangles’ to be found in policy-making in the United States. This view is supported by various accounts of UK transport planning in the 1970s and 1980s where the activities of a roads lobby are held to be a critical factor in explaining transport policy (Hamer, 1987; Tyme, 1978; Wardroper, 1981).”

It seems, with the Tories back in power, those bad old days are back.

The Department for Transport intends to consult on these proposals in autumn 2013. For your own good, oppose them.