Road network 'needs huge cash injection'

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The CBI is calling on the Government to shake up the road network by breaking it up into regional franchises and creating a new regulator to hand out and oversee the contracts.

Pointing to an estimated £10bn shortfall in funding for planned road projects, the CBI director general, John Cridland, says the network desperately needs a massive injection of private capital.

Congestion already costs the economy up to £8bn a year, a figure which could increase to £22bn by 2025 if the roads aren't improved, the business lobbying organisation said.

"Every day, people up and down the UK lose time and money because of our clogged up roads – whether you're a business waiting for an urgent delivery, or a commuter stuck in the morning rush-hour. Gridlock is an all too familiar tale of life in the UK," said Mr Cridland. "With public spending checked, the case for new funding solutions is even more compelling and the Government recognises this. It's clear we need a gear change in how we manage and pay for our road network in the 21st century," he added.

Britain's road network is currently split between "local" roads, run by the authorities, and "strategic" roads, which are operated by the Department of Transport's Highways Agency.

Mr Cridland proposes scrapping the Highways Agency and replacing it with a regulator which would run a regional franchise system in a process that would take the strategic part of the road network out of the Government's budget.

The proposal would be financed by taking up to half of Britain's motoring taxes and using them to fund regional franchise licences controlled by the new regulator.