The Infrastructure Bill is now at the committee stage in Parliament. Under the bill the Highways Agency would be taken out of the Civil Service and become a Government Owned Company (GoCo). This could mean privatisation of the trunk road network in England and tolls to use our major roads.
The Bill will also allow unlimited fracking to take place under private property including houses and allow “any substance” to be left behind.
Liz Savage, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate stated, “ If the Highways Agency becomes a GoCo the PCS union and myself believe that this could eventually turn motorways and trunk roads into toll roads with charges levied by a private company. The coalition seems to view roads as similar to railways and utilities and want to get them ready for a sell-off. This Bill should be of particular concern to local residents and businesses since charging for further roads will only add to their budget constraints. Southport car drivers will rightly feel aggrieved because they already pay more in taxes by way of higher than average petrol prices. Ideally we would all like to see less car journeys but until Southport has better public transport connections, the local MP should not be supporting bills which inflict hardship on car drivers”
Labour tabled an amendment in parliament calling for the second reading of the Bill to be halted. Unfortunately this did go ahead as the reading was supported by local Lib Dem MP John Pugh and his coalition partners.
The bill also seeks to change the law which will allow fracking to occur close to people’s dwellings. Liz went on to say “85% of Southport constituency is covered by a fracking licence block so it’s surprising that our MP isn’t asking more questions about the progress of this Bill. The jury is still out on how safe fracking is and until we know more about the process in regards to the chemicals used and the potential for seismic activity we should be concerned at any de-regulation which will make it easier for this process to take place.”