MP supports road plans

Queueing traffic on the A64 at Staxton..'1013112a

Queueing traffic on the A64 at Staxton..'1013112a

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CONTROVERSIAL Government proposals to partially privatise Britain’s roads have been given the thumbs up by Scarborough’s MP.

Former Shadow Roads Minister Robert Goodwill believes the proposals, which could potentially free up £3 billion a year from public coffers, “can only be a good thing”.

He added: “If you can attract some private investment to improve the roads, then why not look at it?”

The proposals, which were launched by Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday, would see companies bid to maintain and run Britain’s roads, with the view to easing congestion.

Winning bidders would get a yearly windfall from the Government for reducing traffic and maintaing the roads to a high standard.

Critics of the proposals believe that it would inevitably see the introduction of US-style toll roads, known as ‘Lexus Lanes’, across the country.

However, Mr Goodwill said that existing tolls in the country, such as the M6 toll road in the Midlands, show that “people are prepared to pay”.

Under the proposals, a company would be unable to levy a toll on an existing road.

However, any new roads, such as the much-needed dual carriageway on the A64, could be.

And according to the Scarborough MP, the proposals could help towards the development of the long overdue road, as cash would be freed up to spend on new projects.

Despite that, Mr Goodwill seemed to believe that the introduction of toll booths in Scarborough would be unlikely, due to the infrequency of traffic in the town over the course of a year, with traffic only really spiking in volume during the peak of the summer season and on busy bank holidays.

However, Cllr Andrew Backhouse seemed pessimistic towards the likelihood of public funds being spent on a new duel carriageway.

Cllr Backhouse, who is the portfolio holder for highways and transport for the Borough Council, said: “If they build it, they’re looking at about half a billion pounds easily, and I just can’t see them going ‘there you go, no problem’.

“They’re just not going to be able to find that kind of money at the drop of a hat.”

The proposals are set to be discussed by the Treasury and the Department for Transport before the Autumn, and come just 48 hours before a budget likely to focus heavily on improvements to the national infrastructure.