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Motorway tolls may be introduced by coalition
Move to introduce levy would be likely to anger core Conservative vote, but could be softened by cuts in fuel duty
select for full story Ben Quinn The Guardian, Saturday 22 December 2012
Motorists would be forced to pay to use motorways and major A-roads under plans reportedly being considered by George Osborne, as a way of generating extra revenue.

The move would have the potential to trigger a major political backlash against some of the Conservative party's "middle England" core vote, but the blow could be softened by a cut in fuel duty and excise duty for car owners who use their vehicles only around towns, according to reports.

The plans may be contained in a "mid-term review" that will be published next month and will set out the coalition's priorities for the second half of the parliament.

Aides to the chancellor confirmed that a levy for driving on motorways and A-roads is "under consideration" and that it was "narrow-minded and UK-centric" to believe that a model widely used on the continent could not apply in Britain, according to the Financial Times.

Funds raised by private investors with the right to levy tolls on new motorway capacity they create would be a way of maintaining and developing the country's strategic network independent of government.

In March, David Cameron cleared the way for a multibillion-pound semi-privatisation of trunk roads and motorways as he announced plans to allow sovereign wealth funds from countries such as China to lease roads in England.

The prime minister said tolls for new roads were one option and that "innovative approaches" were needed to finance road improvements at a time of scarce government finances. He asked: "Why is it that other infrastructure – for example water – is funded by private sector


McLoughlin on 80mph motorway speed limit
select for full story 17 Dec 2012 BBC NEWS
The government could be set to abandon plans to raise the motorway speed limit in England and Wales to 80mph.

Former transport secretary Philip Hammond said the current 70mph limit, stretching back to 1965, was out-of-date and started a consultation, which could lead to a higher limit in 2013.

But the current postholder Patrick McLoughlin said he would not do anything to risk road safety and that he had other priorities on his desk.

He repeatedly said "wait and see" when asked if the plan had been dropped.

Patrick McLoughlin spoke to Andrew Neil about government plans for runways in southern England, saying Conservatives would stick to a manifesto commitment over no third Heathrow runway, as they debated how long that pledge would last after the 2015 election.


T.O run over and killed while he helped another car crash victim on the M25
select for full story By Emma Clark PUBLISHED:19:59, 27 September 2012| UPDATED: 19:59, 27 September 2012
A Highways Agency traffic officer died on the M25 when he was hit by a car while dealing with the aftermath of another crash.
Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, from Gravesend, Kent, was hit by a Vauxhall Vectra on the clockwise carriageway at junction 5 near south Chevening, Kent, on Tuesday following an earlier accident involving a single vehicle.

Relatives described him as ‘irreplaceable’ and known for his honesty and kindness.

In a statement issued through Kent Police, his family said: ‘John Walmsley, our dad, was a great dad, grandad and, most importantly, great husband who is irreplaceable.

‘He had the affection and respect of just about everyone he came in contact with, due to his honesty and kindness to them.

'He will be greatly missed by his family and all who knew him. Xx’

Two of the three occupants of the Vectra were taken to hospital, one with suspected serious injuries and the other with minor injuries.

They were travelling from Dartford to Surrey at the time of the crash, which resulted in the clockwise carriageway of the motorway being closed between junctions 5 and 6 until around 10pm.


A34 Range Rover transporter crash causes lengthy road closure
"Lots of expensive Range Rovers all over the road"
select for full story By BBC NEWS 9 October 2012
All lanes have reopened on the A34 in Hampshire after a vehicle transporter under tow struck the central barrier, shedding its load of cars.

The crash happened on the northbound carriageway near Whitchurch on Monday night. No-one was injured.

Lanes in both directions were shut for most of Tuesday.

A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, driving with an insecure load and causing danger to other road users.

Hampshire police said the fully-loaded transporter was being towed by a heavy recovery vehicle when it broke free and hit the barrier, crossing on to the opposite carriageway.

No other vehicles were involved but there was "extensive damage to the road surface and barrier".

An earlier police message on Twitter described the scene as having "lots of expensive Range Rovers all over the road".


select for full story Road worker dies in freak accident
A WORKER from the Highways Agency died in a freak accident while repairing a crash barrier in the middle of the night.
4 October, 2012, Canterbury Times
The man, aged 37, was injured early on Tuesday morning as he mended the central reservation of the A2 near Barham.

It had been uprooted when an articulated beer lorry smashed into it and overturned on Monday, spilling its load across the carriageway.

It is believed the man, who had not been named as we went to press but was from Maidstone, was hit by a piece of machinery at 2.40am. He died at the scene.

His death came a week after fellow Highways Agency officer John Walmsley, 59, was killed while working at a crash site on the M25 at South Chevening.

Highways Agency spokesman James Wright said: "Our deepest sympathies are with this person's family, friends and colleagues."

The Health and Safety Executive was informed. Inspectors have been working with police to discover what went wrong.

The coastbound carriageway of the A2 was closed for ten hours for investigations were carried out.

Two other cars were involved in the first crash at 2.15pm on Monday. A woman in her 60s suffered injuries to her back, shoulder and hip and was taken to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital. The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries


Quieter motorways and more electricity, the M40’s ‘exciting step’ in finally catching up with Europe   select for full story Published on Thursday 27 September 2012 17:32 Thame Gazette
Motorways are to become quieter and generate energy after a new partnership said it will introduce solar noise barriers along the M40.
The partnership between the Highways Agency, the M40 Chilterns Environmental Group and Wycombe District Council will see the panels introduced along the motorway near Thame and help generate electricity for more than 20,000 people.

The barriers will be installed by the environmental group, which was selected for the project after it responded to the Co-operative Group’s community energy challenge eight years ago.

President of the group, Lord Paramoor, said: “This is an exciting step towards improved quality of life for over 20,000 local people.

“We would like to express our appreciation for the financial backing and confidence placed in us by our parish councils, our district councils for their championship and encouragement, and the Co-operative for their access to expertise and funding.”

While integrated barriers have been implemented in several countries, this is the first time the new technology will be used in the UK.

Plans include the formation of a co-operative enterprise that is expected to raise funds for the construction of the integrated barriers and then operate them for the benefit of local communities.

Chief highways engineer Ginny Clarke said: “The M40 Chiltern Environmental group have produced a concept that shows real promise and I’m looking forward to working in partnership with them and Wycombe District Council.


Asylum seeker 'killed aspiring model, 20, in head-on motorway smash when driving wrong way along carriageway'

By Daily Mail Reporter 18 Sept 12
select for full story An asylum seeker was accused yesterday of killing a model in a head-on crash while driving the wrong way down a motorway.

A court was told that Rebecca Caine, 20, suffered fatal injuries when Wilfred Museka’s car ploughed into the Chevrolet Matiz carrying her.

Police said the 31-year-old Zimbabwean’s Renault Megane was on the wrong side of the M62 near Rochdale before the tragedy at 3am on Sunday.

Museka, who lives in Clayton, near Manchester, gave a roadside breath test and the sample has been sent for analysis.

He appeared before a district judge at Bury magistrates’ court yesterday charged with causing death by dangerous driving, fraud by false representation, driving without insurance and driving other than in accordance with a driving licence.

One of the charges related to claims he falsely represented he had a full UK driving licence between January and September this year.

Miss Caine, who was known to friends as Becky, lived in Leeds and was studying business at the city’s university.

She leaves behind a twin brother, Jack, a younger sister, Emma, her mother and partner, Susan and Russell, and her father Tim and his wife Joanne.

‘She was a beautiful girl with her whole life ahead of her. She was embarking on a modelling career and would be finishing her final year of her business degree.

‘Rebecca was a bright light that attracted everything to her with her infectious laugh and her beaming smile. She saw the best in everyone and was loved by hundreds.’

The driver of the Matiz and two other passengers suffered minor injuries. Miss Caine died at the scene.

The M62 eastbound from junction 21 was closed for several hours while emergency services dealt with the incident


City needs new motorway, says campaign group
NEWPORT has suffered from years of delay, inconvenience and danger from ill-conceived road plans.
5:10pm Thursday 16th August 2012 in Gwent news By David Deans, Reporter
That’s according to the Newport Civic Society, which has called for a new motorway to the south of the city.

Gwyn Kemp-Philp, the organisation’s transport officer, wrote to the Argus after an accident with a tanker forced the Southern Distributor Road to shut in July.

Mr Kemp-Philp said Newport’s roads had been “exposed for what they are.

Antiquated and inadequate!”

He said: “We have endured years of delay, inconvenience and danger from ill-conceived road planning and construction that intrudes into the daily lives of almost everyone in and around Newport on a daily basis.”

He said a now-closed Welsh Government consultation on measures to improve the M4 had been dealing with “problems that should have been addressed decades ago”.

He said that the only way to cure the “agony of Newport’s daily toil” was to decommission the existing M4 and the SDR and construct an “A48 standard ring-road” around Newport, with a new motorway passing to the south.

The new road would need “political will and some resolve and backbone to do something” before South-East Wales is left as “the backwater the rest of the country already thinks it is”.

“It’s not too expensive. It’s never been too expensive, but it will cost even more next year when we’ll need it twice as much,” he added.


Essex Police no longer have enough traffic officers, it has been claimed
11:00am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News By Adam Cornell
LIVES are being put at risk because Essex Police no longer have enough traffic officers, it has been claimed.

A source close to the police says poorly-trained officers are being sent out to deal with incident on fast, busy roads such as the A12, A127 and A13 with inadequate equipment, and cars without the proper markings.

It is happening because trained traffic officers are now expected also to do too general police work, so are rarely available to answer traffic calls.

The source said: “Officers who have received only minimal training are being sent to the A12, where two police officers have been killed in the past.

“They are being asked to close the road or close a lane, using a car not up to EU safety marking standards for use on fast roads and is often under-equipped.

“Apart from one traffic car, officers are now being sent out alone most of the time.”

This, he added, put the lives of officers and road-users in real danger.

He said: “The traditional traffic officer no longer exists. They are being used as the first unit to attend practically everything, so when you do need them, they are not available. because they’ve been called to a domestic dispute.”

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