The 1999 local transport survey, carried out by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), reveals that more than twice as many local authorities oppose workplace charging than support it. This is a complete turnaround from the results of the ICE's 1998 survey, when there was strong support for workplace charging.
The survey also shows that local authority opposition to road pricing has hardened significantly in the past year.
Derek Turner, a chartered civil engineer and chairman of the ICE's transport board, said: 'These findings must cause concern to anybody, such as the ICE itself, who wants the government's integrated transport strategy to succeed. Charging motorists is an essential tool in the war against congestion. It will provide a substantial income stream which can be dedicated to funding sorely needed transport improvements.
'There is also concern that 10 years is the maximum period so far that the government has said that local authorities can use the revenues for transport improvements; our survey shows that they would prefer a much longer period of time for revenues to be hypothecated or earmarked for transport.'
Mr Turner continued: 'A stronger partnership between government and local authorities is needed to resolve these problems and to make sure that these policies work. Considerable political risks like these should not all be borne by local authorities. These policies are at the heart of an integrated transport strategy, and if they are not resolved, they will fail.'
The survey's findings also indicate continuing concern amongst local authorities about the state of their roads. The vast majority of authorities are continuing to report increases in the backlog of maintenance work. The survey also shows concern about the safety implications of poorly maintained roads.
Other key findings are:
- the rate of increase in traffic is rising
- local authorities continue to be concerned that insufficient political priority is given to transport matters and this is unlikely to change greatly in the future
- there is concern that future changes - already the subject of discussion - to the way that transport capital spending is funded will lead to further underfunding in years to come
77 out of 203 local authorities responded, a response rate of 38%. See attached list of respondents. The survey primarily reports the opinions of local government officers. The survey was carried out by the ICE in November and December 1999. The survey is confined to roads under the direct control of local authorities, ie all roads, excluding motorways and trunk roads. They comprise over 96% of Britain's total road network.
COUNTY COUNCILS (19)
LONDON BOROUGHS (10)
METROPOLITAN COUNCILS (10)
ENGLISH UNITARY COUNCILS (12)
Kingston upon Hull
WELSH COUNCILS (12)
Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
Vale of Glamorgan
SCOTTISH COUNCILS (14)
Argyll and Bute
Perth and Kinross