Debate surrounds proposed council powers to combat congestion

Written on October 24, 2017

Local councils are keen to secure more powers to tackle increasing levels of congestion on their roads, as average speeds throughout British city centres continue to decline.

The Local Government Association (LGA) believes councils should be given powers to penalise motorists for moving traffic offences e.g. junction-blocking as well as introduce workplace parking levy schemes without the need for a government green light.

The LGA has also demanded that localised roads get the same long-term infrastructure funding as that received by Highways England and Network Rail. The Association reiterated the importance of maintaining and improving Britain’s local road network as further congestion could hit the national economy by £300bn a year by 2030 – equating to a tenfold increase of today’s costs of £30.8bn per annum.

Cllr Judith Blake, of the LGA transport division, said: “When the average motorist is spending a working week every year sat in traffic on major roads, and losing almost £1,000 in the process, it’s clear councils need to be able to do more to tackle this growing problem.”

Today, the average speed on the UK’s A-roads stands at just 25.2mph, one per cent slower year-on-year, the LGA reported.

More alarmingly, a study of motor vehicle speeds in London carried out by In-car Cleverness discovered that average speeds even five miles from Central London plummet to just 8mph. Meanwhile average speeds within a mile of Central London now register at just 5mph.

It’s a similar case north of the border in Edinburgh as drivers are forced to drop their speed to less than 7mph near the centre of Scotland’s capital.

Paul O’Dowd, head of sales, In-car Cleverness, said: “The figures paint a stark picture of how everyday commuters, drivers and even businesses are struggling to get around or operate in some of the biggest hubs in the UK.”

The 2.5 million roadworks carried out on the nation’s local roads annually are consistently blamed for employees’ failure to get to work on time and for delayed deliveries, leading to higher costs for businesses. However, the government is considering plans to allow local authorities to charge utility companies by the hour to carry out works on specific routes, encouraging them to avoid working on busy roads and at peak hours of the day.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save businesses from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads.”