Why it's a bad idea to privatise our roads

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Motorway Privatisation has become a dirty word in Britain thanks to the shambles that our badly run, expensive railways have become, so it's no surprise that the idea of a two-tier road tax system sends shivers down the spines of motorists.

The Treasury and transport department are finishing a review of how to fund Britain's roads and the proposals are happy reading for people who regularly use motorways.



Under the plans drivers who use motorways would pay more as part of a two-tier road tax system that would raise £6 billion a year. Those paying less would only be able to use A-roads and smaller local roads.

This all points to a disconcerting plan to 'privatise' our road network. Chancellor George Osborne has already raised the idea of privatising the Highways Agency – which is run by the Department for Transport and has responsibility for looking after motorways and A-roads. He also wanted to introduce more tolls on new routes or routes that have been widened.

With the cost of petrol sucking plenty of money out of motorists' pockets already, these proposals to make motoring even more expensive will not be welcome.

Yes, having a car is a luxury for many people but for plenty more it's a necessity and introducing a two-tier road tax system will hit poorer drivers most harshly.

By forcing people who cannot afford it off the motorways, the government is not solving a problem – it is shifting it elsewhere. If you cannot afford to use main roads than you will use A-roads and smaller roads to get about, surely this will cause even more congestion as thousands of drivers take back roads and routes through villages, which cannot support huge flows of traffic.

The AA has already come out against the idea of a two-tier tax system, saying 30% of people would no longer be able to pay for the use of motorways. And not only would they be unable to pay for quicker routes, they would be stuck with routes that are more congested and end up using more petrol due to all the starting and stopping.

We won't know until December what the outcome of the review of our road networks is but at the moment motorists could be forgiven for feeling that they are once again being seen as easy targets.

Before making any decision the government should look at the disaster the rail network has become before deciding to hand over our roads to a profit-driven company.

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