Private Road Networks – Friend or Foe

So how would you want to buy a road? The excellent and circular M25 might suit or perhaps the much longer M4 is a lot more desirable. In either case the government has announced they are deciding on selling off the big motorways in the country to private companies. That news has been greeted with mixed reactions. How do the government put up for sale something which does not belong to them? Didn’t we paid for these roadways already with with our Vehicle Excise Duty?

Previously the original road tax was known as Road Fund Licence and originated at the turn of the 20th century by David Lloyd George as a means of increasing income especially for Great British roads. Nowadays the road tax is referred to as Vehicle Excise Duty.

Similar to National Insurance, that was established to pay for pensions and welfare, the finances raised through Vehicle Excise Duty became a different way of bringing in taxes for other things. One estimate claims that approximately £41 billion is brought in year after year by road tax and yet only about £12 billion is really invested on the new roads and maintenance.

The only way drivers might be persuaded to say yes to selling off the motorway network or pay-as-you-go lanes is a reduction of road tax. The commercial reasons behind the sale may perhaps be justified as a way to assist the economy. Even so the political reasons will be tough to take in.

An investigation in 2010 professed that the British Government can raise up to £105 billion. Road companies would compete with each other to run and in addition maintain the road network. One variation of the program could see the british government maintaining the roads with one other, controversial, plan using tolls.

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