Road to progress
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TRANSPORT needs more suppoit from the Government. And more support, in the short term, can aid our economic revival. Inaction now will not only handicap growth — and relocation — during the next few years, but also development in the early years of the 21st Century.
The British Road Federation, in a major study (p4) says: "Britain's big cities will decline still further without a new, large-scale investment programme in roads and public transport." It calls for a £7 billion urban transport programme.
The BRF report — Room to Move — says much can be achieved by relatively modest changes in the controls exerted by the Government on local authority spending. By this means we could go a long way towards allowing the priority of schemes to be judged on their merits to the community rather than on administrative convenience. Reductions in the cost of borrowing might also be used to encourage capital spending,
"In the long term," it says, "Government must make more finance available for transport capital spending and find new methods of raising it by, for example, attracting more private money into major projects."
This idea was suggested in 1983 and supported by CM then. Today we believe it is essential to attract this money in order to make real progress in the long run, but don't let's await the outcome of lengthy debate and Green Papers (did someone mention tolls? The Germans are considering an autobahn tax — see p 12) before making a start on the BRF's shorter-term recommendations.
And as the BRF says: Spending on public transport is not an alternative to spending on roads. The two are complementary. '