Redwood on Roads

John Redwood can be an interesting politician to watch. Long, long ago some thoughtful comments on his part ensured that a certain part of Cardiff kept affordable house prices when the rest of the nation went berserk. Since it’s actually a nice area to live, you get the benefits of the run-down neck of the woods and few of the downsides.

In 1995 he terminated his political career by actually responding to a “put up or shut up” challenge from his party leader. Having put up a candidate, the Eurosceptic wing of the Tories opted not to shut up. Pity that.

And now he keeps a blog which occasionally makes comments on transport. He can be a little uninformed on railways. But (to a rail expert who doesn’t drive) he doesn’t seem to be quite so bad on roads.

As someone who has long been in favour of road privatisation, I rather enjoyed reading this – Basically, cancel vehicle excise duty, flog big long franchises to toll companies for the motorways, let them charge for motorway use and pay down the National Debt with the lump sum that flogging the network brings in. (The one downside is that, like the railways, he doesn’t propose permanent sale. This has the potential to allow future governments to screw up the franchise market, increasing costs to the state rather than cutting them.)

Road privatisation has the benefit that it adjusts the road user costs towards point of use rather than as a lump sum at the beginning of the year. The latter option encourages you to use the road more to recoup the value of your investment.

My one subscriber will probably disagree with the benefits of the policy, but Wales has devolved transport so its motorways would be exempt.


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