Tories to let local councils control our roads

25 Nov, 2015 9:56am Joe Finnerty

Andrew Jones, roads minister, reveals all; speed limits, safety and surfacing to be handed to authorities

A hands-off, non-regulatory approach will be taken by Government – and more powers handed to local councils – to tackle speed limits, road safety and surfacing issues in their areas.

Talking to Auto Express, roads minister Andrew Jones, who took over the role in May, said local authorities are ideally placed to know what’s best for them rather than look to Whitehall to impose regulations.

That extends to road safety, with Mr Jones ruling out the return of national targets to try to cut the number of deaths on British roads.

• Safety: "I want to see action to save lives rather than conversations about meeting an arbitrary target [on road deaths]."

That number rose for the first time in 30 years last year, but Mr Jones said: “Behind every fatality or serious injury statistic is a life ruined and a family shattered, and I am determined to do more. I want action to save lives rather than conversations about whether we are meeting an arbitrary national target.

Grey speed cameras to be gone by 2016

“I think local authorities are best placed to decide what to prioritise in their local areas and we need to work hard at all levels to make our roads safer for road users.”

Mr Jones confirmed a similar policy for tackling the challenge of road surfacing and fixing potholes. While innovative and new ideas will be backed by Government if they represent good value to the taxpayer, councils will be left to make their own decisions on how to treat their local roads. 

• Surfacing: "I think that local authorities are best placed to decide what to prioritise in their local areas."

Councils will be allowed to adopt 20mph speed limits where necessary, too, as Mr Jones pointed to legislation Government has already introduced making it easier for them to lower speeds to improve safety.

Mr Jones also told Auto Express there are no plans to raise the national speed limit to 80mph on motorways. Instead, he promised more smart motorways with variable speed limits to ease congestion.

• Speed: "Most drivers are safe and considerate, but there are those who put themselves and others in dangers."

He added: “The majority of drivers are safe and considerate to other road users, although there are those who do put themselves and others in danger. By 2020, Highways England will have completed around 286 lane miles of smart motorways.”

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