As motorists, we get used to the ‘bust & boom’ nature of owning a car; hit with taxes, hit with taxes, and hit with taxes, with some light relief of “actually, you car driving people deserve a break”. Of course, the cycle usually follows a strict pattern – the timing of a general election.
Some candidates are telling us that they ‘vow to end rip-off NHS parking charges’, while others promise to end the blight that is potholes and poor roads. One in particular is mixing it up and offering to tackle both problems. To a degree.
But is it all pie in the sky thinking? A cheap trick to woo us?
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), whose members are primarily responsible for filling in potholes, states that £9.79bn is needed over the next ten years to bring our roads up to scratch, and that typically, UK drivers need to spend around £4bn every year on getting their car fixed due to damage caused by potholes.
The problem is so bad, that 56% of motorists have said that their car has been damaged at least once, and 28% of drivers have had an accident or near miss because of a pothole, a further 15% have had a tyre blowout after being damaged by a pothole.
Clearly, a strategy for fixing potholes is much needed, but the very obvious question needing to be asked is where would the money come from? Further taxation? We already pay tax on top of tax in the form of fuel duty, and then of course we have VED and numerous other stealth taxes.
With £2bn of money being promised as part of the Government national infrastructure strategy, there may just be enough to scratch the surface (but not fix it).
For a simple representation of the problem, which is said to amount to a 33km depth hole, Confused.com has put together a simple animation of what that means, along with a handy guide on how to claim for pothole damage to your car.
NHS parking charges
Both of the primary candidates have promised to tackle excessive NHS parking charges, albeit in slightly different forms – one is offering a complete abolition of car parking charges, the other wants to offer free parking for certain groups – terminally ill, frequent visitors to the outpatients dept., NHS nightshift workers and the disabled ‘blue badge’ holders (169 NHS trusts charge blue badge holders for parking).
Depending on the source used, we know that patients, visitors and staff coughed up around £272m for car parking in NHS facilities in 2018, with £86m of that being paid by the NHS staff and workers, and £950,000 being made up of fines for parking offences.
While it’s acknowledged that the NHS trusts are responsible for setting their own parking fees, the issue is somewhat clouded by the fact that not all of the trusts receive all (or any) of the money. More often, the trust uses a third-party operator to run the parking, and of course costs very between operators, and for once, it doesn’t seem to follow the North / South divide.
Manchester’s University NHS foundation trust topped the bill for revenue generated – just over £6m being distributed almost equally between public and staff, and the University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire claimed second spot, with just under £6m – £5,992,849 (just £2m for the staff).
Some politicians are calling it a “tax on sickness”.
Cheap vote winners
Being a motorist during a run up to an election is about the only time that we can feel valued, or at least considered, rather than the devil incarnate for having the audacity to use a private vehicle (even more so if it’s fuelled by unleaded or diesel).
But these promises made to us are nothing short of cheap tactics to win a vote, and anyone that bases their decision purely on the points raised will be in for bitter disappointment when the votes are counted and the next incumbent sits. That’s not to say that it’s all fantasy, but just that I for one won’t be holding my breath.
It’s all very well promising untold fortunes for the benefit of the motorist, but the simple reality is that many local authorities are on the verge of financial collapse, and any ‘spare’ money has long been accounted for. Any extra monies promised will either leave a deficit somewhere else, or have to be raised from further taxation, and as it’s for the motorists benefit, you can be sure that it will be the motorist paying for it.
What are your thoughts on NHS parking charges? How should the government (whoever that may be) fund these extra initiatives? Would you pay an extra tax for better roads? Let us know in the comments.
This is really all about shoddy quality of workmanship and/or materials.
I would suggest that the onus should be on the company who were contracted to surface a road to be responsible for replacing/repairing any failure of their work/product (i.e. they should ensure that the work for which they have been paid is suitable for use for a defined time period (e.g. five years)), in the same way that individuals have rights when purchasing goods from suppliers (i.e. guarantee/warranty).
33km depth hole – that’s some pot hole!
I dont understand why road repair companies in Britain have not adopted repair techniques I’ve seen used abroad which are much quicker – causing fewer delays to motorists, and seem to be better quality longer lasting repairs. In New England we’ve seen a whole road up and down a mountain re tarmaced in 2 days – day one going up one side, day two coming down, with a rolling cone off area extending only about 150 yards in the area of work so that the whole road doesn’t have to be shut or massive long tailbacks as usually happens with several miles of coning . The tarmac is extruded out of the back of a special truck in a wide ribbon with follow up rollers compressing the material and road engineers ensuring the finish is sound. We’ve also seen the ‘spot’ repairs on potholes. I know there are now a few of these specialist vehicles in use where the offending pothole is measured, drilled out, and a plug of material to fit is inserted. Again saving time and money it’s not necessary to do a whole road or large area. An investment in these vehicles and techniques would surely pay for themselves over time.
William Lewis is right about shoddy workmanship in that the pothole to be repaired, wherever it may be, is not ‘bottomed’ to the bedrock foundation of the road and then filled up following the layer by layer of the original road surface. to the top level of that road surface. The repair team, only fill from the base of the pothole with a bitchumin and tar mix which contains a small aggregate for binding.
Then vehicles run over the top compressing the refill further and causing a depression. Heavy vehicles are in the mix of road vehicles and are usually trucks and buses. The surface begins to form tiny cracks with the weight and constant depression and flexing of the road surface. On a ‘bottomed’ repaired pothole this flexing still occurs but to a lesser degree and therefore lasts longer. When it rains, water penetrates the cracked road surface and stays there. The cracks get deeper and more water penetrates.
Then when temperatures drop, that water freezes and water actually expands under freezing conditions and the ice breaks the cracks open and causes the cracks to go deeper and eventually, chunks of the road surface are forced out by the pressure of heavy vehicles and the pothole has begun to form.
It’s a combination of poor weather and shoddy repairs which because they are shoddy, have to be repeated and earns the roads repair people extra revenue.
Filling with bitumen and tar does not solve the problem. Neither does the practice of those Councils Highways Departments in spreading lots of tar, right across lengths of roads, then tipping lorry loads of chunks of stone and gravel to be pressed down by traffic driving over it. Usually with speed restriction signs telling motorists to drive at 20 miles an hour until surface is fixed. I have had 3 windscreens cracked due to being overtaken by fools exceeding the speed restriction, usually idiots who not only throw up trails of chippings but who also like to demonstrate at the time of overtaking that they have a middle finger.
Council does not accept responsibility for cost of windscreen repair, comes out of my pocket.
When Winnie Churchill raided the Road Tax treasure chest, He should have reinstated it after WW2 (when he came back into power. All taxes relating to motoring (the tax paid on items; tyres; bulbs; oil; filters, etc. The VAT paid when ones vehicle is serviced or repaired) should be paid into a road fund pot and NOT used for anything else, other than the building and upkeep of ALL roads. Without saying this applies to ALL vehicles regardless of their driving power.
On the subject of VEHICLE EXCISE LICENCE and INSURANCE, road side cameras are fine, but, have you noticed the number of vehicles failing to display registration plates, or altering the reg plate. The electronic systems can not trace these. I would suggest that many such vehicles are have no VEL, INSURANCE or MOT, not only unlawful but protentionally having unsafe vehicles on the road. As a former police officer brought up with the paper VEL, I can say that it soon becomes second nature to glance at displayed VEL’s, on parked vehicles giving an instant thought to the other offences. It also offers members of the public a chance to identify offences on parked cars or following a collision etc.
The GOVERNMENTS cost of re-introducing the paper VEL is minute compared to the benefits and increased revenue. Also
Police vehicles should have cameras installed front and rear to identify vehicles missing the front registration plate, most offending vehicle display a rear plate in case a police vehicle in behind them., and many speed cameras photograph from the front in order to identify the driver, no use if the front reg plate I’d missing or altered.
Though they try to pretend it’s not their fault, all of this is entirely down to successive Conservative governments since 2010 and the cuts they’ve made in NHS spending and payments to local authorities.
The NHS has to try to fill the funding gap the government has created, so hospitals charge more and more for parking. So do local authorities in the car parks they control.
And since most roads are maintained by local authorities, and those same authorities have been starved of cash for years by the Conservatives, it’s no surprise that the repairs required haven’t been done.
Let’s put the blame where it really lies – with successive Conservative governments making a political decision to starve the public sector of cash. And what has it achieved? An actual INCREASE in the National Debt since they took over from Labour!
In this area they fill some potholes eventually, but the standard of repair is poor. It is not only potholes I want to see fille but new tarmac going down where roads are worn out. Patching on top of a patch with surrounding areas in poor condition does not make financial sense
Why pay extra taxes for better roads?
As vehicle owners we already pay for the roads to be maintained, eg: fuel, insurance and car taxes, road fund licenses etc. Better governance and service efficiency would make these large sums go even further!