Grayling’s MRN plans give councils a share of Vehicle Excise Duty

Chris Grayling has announced a Transport Investment Strategy that proposes the creation of a major road network, with councils given a share of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the strategy sets out a new long-term approach for government infrastructure spending where cash is targeted at projects that help rebalance the economy.

The proposed major road network (MRN) would see a share of the annual National Road Fund, funded by VED, given to local authorities to improve or replace their most important A roads under their management.

The National Roads Fund was previously envisaged to be ring-fenced for the the strategic road network (SRN). The Government received £5.8bn from VED across the UK in 2016-17.

The DfT said the plan respond to last year’s report by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, which highlighted the disparity between the funding and planning of the SRN and local authority A roads.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘Getting transport spending right is crucial for the country’s future. The Transport Investment Strategy sets out a blueprint for how we can harness the power of transport investment to drive balanced economic growth, unlock new housing projects, and support the Government’s modern industrial strategy.

‘At the heart of our approach is a plan to make transport work for the people who use it and for the wider economy.’

In a statement, David Quarmby and Phil Carey, authors of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund report, said ‘We are delighted to see the Government has now adopted our concept of the Major Road Network. This embraces the more important local authority A roads which support England’s regional economies.

‘As we proposed, local authorities will have access to resources for the MRN’s improvement and development from the forthcoming National Road Fund, alongside the planning and funding of the strategic road network of motorways and trunks roads. Adopting and promoting the MRN in this way will help the Government’s investment plans reach and benefit communities right across England.

‘The trustees of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund are pleased that the effort and investment which has gone into this two-year study will now have far-reaching consequences for England’s road network and its millions of users.’

The DfT said the strategy is set to form a vital part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. It includes a ‘rebalancing’ measure that will judge how investment programmes contribute to a more balanced economy, and prioritises investment that increases productivity or growth, supports new housing, improves reliability and tackles congestion.

Under four separate themes, the strategy sets out ‘propositions to guide future transport investment decision-making’.

  • Ensuring our investment consistently meets the needs of users and helps to create a balanced economy
  • Getting best value out of the network and our investment
  • Maintaining a resolute focus on delivery
  • Adaptability in the face of change

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