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Letter: An Improved Infrastructure of Roads Is the Answer, Not Road Charging

Published on: 22 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 22 Feb, 2022

From: Bibhas Neogi

In response to: Charge Cars Using Guildford Roads To Beat Congestion And Pollution

The debate on how to improve traffic movement through Guildford has been going on for many years. The cause for congestion is the volume of traffic within a network the capacity of which was exceeded many years ago. This volume is going to increase still further due to the building of more housing as required by the Local Plans of Guildford and Waverley Councils.

But charging motorists for using road networks is already unfair. The principle of charging for a service based on market forces should be fair and competitive.

Revenue collected by our government from motorists through various forms of taxation is not ring-fenced for maintaining and improving the road network of the nation. Only 18-20% of the revenue is spent on road network and the remaining goes to the Treasury.

If our network were improved consistently with the increases in traffic, we would not have such severe congestion in many areas of the network. Successive governments have not addressed this problem with appropriate planning and funding for continual improvements that were warranted.

Charging even more affects all motorists but is it equitable? Charging for the use of the core network would only drive people onto “rat-runs”, inadequate to deal with increased traffic. Use of public transport, when possible, generally requires more time for the same journey and additional cost of fares if the user already has a car taxed and insured.

The answer is to improve our road network and the central government should fund these out of the revenue it collects from motorists.

In Guildford, the road network could be improved to free up road space for safer cycle lanes and wider pedestrian footways where required. Pollution from exhausts would reduce as more and more electric cars replace petrol and diesel ones.

The expected increase in population will require building more housing but infrastructures both physical and social have to be provided for a successful outcome.

Guildford Borough Council’s Town Centre Masterplan has yet to reveal what they would do to tackle congestion. To date, artist’s sketches in their publications do not show routes that deal with the gyratory traffic adequately.

The town centre cannot be made pedestrian-friendly unless traffic from the gyratory is reduced considerably. This can only be done when a new east-west route is built across the railway and the river. The riverside regeneration could not be done usefully unless traffic in Millbrook is also reduced substantially or altogether.

Solutions do exist but the councils, SCC and GBC, need to acknowledge the need to do something other than have yet more studies and consultations, unless they are prepared to act and implement the recommendations, taking on board views expressed, by the stakeholders and the public, that add value to the process.

Contributions from the developers should be levied under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to bring in an appropriate amount of contributions. It is a mystery to me why GBC has dithered to implement CIL causing it to miss out on millions of pounds worth of contributions to improve the infrastructures.

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