Monday, 19 March 2012

Selling the roads

The government is mooting the possibility of selling the major highways, motorways and the like, to the private sector. The idea is that private companies would buy 100 year leases on roads, assume responsibility for maintaining them, and get to charge for using them. The bill for existing roads would go to the government but new roads could be toll roads paid for by drivers.

Already dubbed "PFI on wheels" this is the craziest idea the government has had since its previous crazy idea of selling off the national forests - which was shot down by outrage from all sides.

It seems the Tories are congenitally inclined to try to sell things which do not really belong to them.

Privatising natural monopolies has been tried before with water (drought orders in place) railways (state subsidies now being used to pay shareholder dividends) and buses (same as railways, but with a worse service).

Clearly any road which ends up privately owned (most likely foreign owned like our water companies and power stations) will be managed in such a way as to minimise costs and maximise return.

Ultimately this idea boils down to: we can get more money out of the motorists.

Well the motorists are pretty fed up of being bled for cash. Motorists already pay vastly more in taxes (80p of every litre is tax) than they get in value.

It's time the government stopped trying to hand off its responsibilities to others; usually French or Chinese companies, and just delivered the required services itself.


chefdave said...

It's funny how people see the inherent danger in this move yet when it comes to the housing market -another state backed monopoly- they whoop and cheer when their monopoly values go up in price. Indeed the whole economy hinges on the amount these monopolists can extract from the productive.

OT, have you seen Livingstone court the Islamic vote BN? Some more info here:

Nationalist said...

Ha! No I hadn't seen that. Livingstone is such a worm. I noticed in that video clip that while he was droning away in the corner the audience was chatting amongst themselves - clearly not interested. Perhaps if he said, "Now let us talk about beheading the infidels," he would have got their attention. ;)