Our roads are the lifeblood of England. We drive our children to school on them, we get to work on them, we travel around the county and the country on them, and there are hundreds of Lincolnshire businesses who depend on our local, regional, or national road network.
Of this government’s achievements, one that we feel almost instantly is the decision to keep fuel duty frozen. Labour had installed a ‘fuel duty escalator’ that planned set increases in fuel duty that would have hit working families, individuals, and small businesses hard. Yes we want the City of London to flourish, but that’s enough for us here in Lincolnshire. Luckily the Chancellor is keenly aware that it’s families and small businesses up and down the length and breath of Britain who are the real cornerstone of a stable, flourishing economy.
Given the importance of our roads, the government announced a few days ago a new £275 million programme of funding for major local road maintenance initiatives. This investment is part of a record £6 billion committed to improving local roads between now and 2021. A further £15 billion is earmarked for major roads projects — over a hundred of them — which will be delivered by the end of 2020 as part of the country’s first ever Road Investment Strategy. This will ensure that the local problems we fix help feed in to a larger system, and keep the cars, vans, and trucks rolling smoothly across all of Great Britain. The East Midlands will get a massive £539,512,000 out of this pot, with £161,878,000 devoted to our roads here in Lincolnshire.
After chronic underinvestment during the period of Labour rule, we will see journeys made quicker and more safe for drivers, passengers, and cyclists.
That said, I’m rather fond of travelling by rail and the legacy we’ve inherited from the great Victorian railway builders is one of which every Briton can be proud. But the Victorian era is over a hundred years ago now, so our country’s rail network is in need of an overhaul. That’s why the Government have planned the largest modernisation of our railways since the nineteenth century. With £38 billion invested, this five-year programme will benefit millions of rail passengers, with more trains, more seats, reduced congested, and bigger, better stations, while over 4,000 miles of track will be refurbished
Of course, world-class infrastructure is no use if you can’t afford to use it. That’s why I’m particularly pleased the government has frozen rail fare increases for two years running. These rises are now limited to inflation only, while we’ve capped the ability of train operating companies to increase fares by stealth through ‘flex’ methods. Labour, meanwhile, oversaw fare increases sometimes as high as 13 per cent, as families and businesses were struggling during the financial crisis.
Conservatives in government are investing taxpayers’ money better and more cleverly to deliver tangible results that will help us here in Lincolnshire as well as the rest of the country.
Sir Edward Leigh
Conservative PCC for Gainsborough