Councils call for a national ‘congestion strategy’

Council leaders have called on the Government to develop a ‘congestion strategy’ to address the economic drain caused by traffic jams as well as the knock-on impact of pollution.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has collated case studies showing some of the successes councils have had in tackling congestion through a range of methods, including Nottingham’s workplace parking levy, bus prioritisation in Brighton and Reading and investment in cycling.

It also reiterated a long-standing list of requests to government for more powers and funding certainty for councils.

Cllr Judith Blake, LGA transport spokesperson, said: ‘Congestion can have a significant impact on our towns, cities and communities, and act as a drag on local growth. Worse still, it can lead to toxic air and reduced quality of life.

‘When the average motorist is spending a working week every year sat in traffic on major roads, and losing almost a £1,000 in the process, it’s clear that councils need to be able to do more to tackle this growing problem.

‘They need long-term consistent funding to invest in local roads and need greater powers to solve the problem and introduce attractive alternatives to car journeys, such as through public transport, walking and cycling.’

LGA requests include:

  • long-term funding certainty for local authorities such as that enjoyed by Highways England and Network Rail
  • an end to competitive bidding for local transport funds, with complete discretion given to authorities to make the best decision based on local need
  • the resources and powers necessary to improve air quality
  • full implementation of the Bus Services Act 2017 ensuring all authorities can access the new powers if they wish to make use of them
  • all authorities should be given access to lane rental powers if they wish to make use of them
  • a clear statement that the Government will allow more authorities to make use of a workplace parking levy should they wish to consider one
  • immediate and full implementation of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004, allowing civil enforcement of moving traffic offences, such as banned turns and blocking of yellow box junctions.

The LGA highlighted Department for Transport figures from earlier this year suggesting the average speed across local A roads in 2016 was 25.2mph, a 1.2% decrease on 2015.

It also references a much-cited report from the Royal College of Physicians that states: ‘Each year in the UK the equivalent of around 40,000 deaths can be attributed to outdoor air pollution linked to exposure to fine particulates and NO2 [nitrogen dioxide].’

Diesel engines in surface transport are a major cause of this toxic nitrogen dioxide.

And it cites previous traffic analysis from INRIX, which suggests that the direct and indirect costs of congestion totalled more than £30bn in the UK last year.

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