ACE has responded to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee inquiry into local roads funding and governance.
Written with the input of ACE’s roads group, the submission explores issues relating to the local roads in England and highlights that:
- The condition of local roads in England is mixed. It doesn’t benefit from the same long term planning as the Strategic Road Network (SRN) does and the value of local roads as feeder routes to the SRN is not fully recognised.
- The state of local roads impacts on bus users, cyclists and walkers, as well as motorists. There is a clear social, as well as economic impact.
- Local authorities often lack the skills or understanding to develop effective long-term road maintenance strategies for local roads.
- Councils should join together to create regional partnerships to collectively devise strategic plans for local roads, such as the Midlands Highways Alliance.
- Current funding comes from multiple sources (central government, EU, private developers and leaseholders) and budgets are not ring-fenced which means they often end up being used for other areas of council spending.
- There is a long-term funding crisis for local roads with Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and fuel duty declining in the face of increasing electric, hybrid and fuel efficient cars.
ACE has called for the introduction of a new funding model for roads based on a dynamic road user charging system. In Funding Roads for the Future, ACE argued that road user charging could be tailored for individual circumstances (i.e. whether the driver was a student, unemployed, pensioners), as well as whether there was congestion on the network.
As well as providing an alternative long-term source of funding, this could also have positive impacts on the local road network usage. For example, drivers could be incentivised to use the local network if they knew funding would go directly to it, and councils would also have a better understanding of local road usage.