Opinion : Let’s fix the roads in 2019

In the interests of year-ending blogs and things on my mind, I think it’s time to come up with a plan to get the roads of Britain moving more effectively than they have been in recent years. Okay, so it’s actually going to come across as a bit of a rant, but the ideas I’m presenting are based on the experience of a 40,000-mile year, and utter frustration with needless time lost in traffic.

Perhaps once Brexit has played out, we’ll have more time and energy to look at implementing some transport policies that will improve driving for everyone – after all, according to the BBC, commuters are losing up to 74 hours per year sitting in traffic. Most of these ideas shouldn’t cost huge sums to put into action but, hopefully, they’ll make a significant impact on traffic flow.

As always, please comment your own thoughts at the end of the article, especially if you have ideas that would make things more bearable for the rest of us.

Introduce keep-left-unless overtaking signs

UK drivers’ lane discipline on motorways and dual carriageways is notoriously bad. Ask anyone who’s returned from an overseas drive, or who’s driving on an empty piece of motorway overnight why they see so many people driving in the middle- or outside-lane, and they’ll not be able to answer.

Our inability to keep left unless overtaking as absolutely stunning – and it has terrible consequences on traffic flow. All of a sudden, a few middle-lane hogs can render a three-lane stretch into a congested dual carriageway. Or worse…

I propose the introduction of these signs on all UK motorways and dual carriageways, preferably at mile-long intervals. They are timely reminders that anything to the right of Lane 1 is purely for overtaking, and not for sitting in for miles on end. There are such signs on the M1 near London Gateway (nee Scratchwood) services, and they do seem to work for the couple of miles that they cover. More please.

Introduce regular training for drivers

Back in 2015, I was caught speeding on the A66. My fault, it was a fair cop, as I was clocked at 82mph on a dual carriageway on New Year’s Eve. But as my licence was clean, I was offered the opportunity to take a Speed Awareness Course in lieu of my three points.

Although I like to think I know a bit about driving and cars, I still came away from the experience recharged and armed with a little knowledge that had slipped from my front of mind.

What was also quite telling was the amount of people on the course who lacked knowledge in the most basic of areas – and that you could see that they were coming away with useful and potentially life-saving information. Would it be really cost too much to make this mandatory for all drivers every, say, 10 years? Actually, it would probably generate much-needed revenue, and potentially make the roads a much safer place.

Consider re-testing at 40 and 60-years of age

Back in 2017, I re-sat the driving test for a feature on ParkersThe occasion was the introduction of the new-style driving test, which introduced following directions from a sat-nav. I didn’t go into the experience taking anything for granted and, as it happens, I found it a stressful experience.

Yes, I passed, but not without a couple of demerits – and the tester informing me that there are a few areas where I needed to brush up on my skills.

Given that most people have picked up numerous bad habits by the time they hit 40, it seems like a logical step to introduce a refresh and review. My bad habits were something I wasn’t aware of, and could cause a problem in a certain situation, and I was grateful for the reminder. I genuinely believe we could all do with the refresher, at least at 40 and 60 – preferably every 10 years.

Introduce no-overtaking zones for HGVs

I think we’ve all been stuck behind a pair of trucks elephant racing on a dual carriageway, and wondered what the driver’s thinking about. I couldn’t even begin to total up the amount of time I’ve sat behind one HGV doing 53mph overtaking another doing 52mph.

In the driver’s mind, it’s making progress, and certainly, it’s not an issue – because they’re allowed to do it. But in Europe, there are plenty of two-lane motorways that have restrictions on HGV overtaking in the interests of traffic flow – usually on inclines.

Why we don’t have them (aside from the pointless ‘Journey-time zones on the A14 and M11, which seem to be widely ignored) baffles me. If they aren’t permitted to overtake in places where they can cause the most delays, where’s the problem?

Introduce merge-in-turn signs at two-into-ones…

This is a constant source of bafflement to me. Why is it at roadworks or at two-into-ones that UK drivers will quite happily queue for miles in the left-hand lane, and not drive sensibly in both lanes up to the narrowing of the roads?

I think it goes back to the ‘don’t push in’ mentality of so many Brits, and how many would perceive anyone going up to the blockage is actually trying to gain an unfair advantage. In reality, it’s maximising space, and so as long as both drivers are cooperative there really shouldn’t be an issue. And done properly, two-into-ones that are merged-in-turn at the end will half the length of the queue.

This issue generates the most extreme form of passive-aggressive driving – HGV drivers, especially, will sit in the middle to block both lanes to stop people merging in turn. To the point, where I’ve seen this happen more than a mile from the two-into-one. Madness… And yet, when I see merge-in-turn signs, everyone can manage perfectly well. Let’s get these signs widely deployed and stop the stupid passive aggression.

Let’s re-consider the speed limits

Cars are safer now than ever before. Thanks to improved crash-mitigation technology and ever-stronger cars, the likelihood of being injured in a crash are lower than ever. Fewer cars crash in the first place, too – and when did you last read in the news about a motorway pile-up?

So, why is it that we’re saddled with a 70mph national speed limit conceived in 1965, when our cars are so capable? Stopping distances have reduced significantly, while high-speed handling is so much better than ever – even the most inattentive drivers can avoid mayhem.

Isn’t it time to raise the limit to a more Euro-standard 80 or 85mph? Most cars built in the last 40 years are more than capable of, nay optimised to, drive at 80mph – sometimes not feeling settled and in their stride at the UK’s antediluvian 70mph limit.

Given that in an ideal world, drivers would be better informed, trained and less frustrated, this higher speed limit would be the carrot that most people would happily receive for the stick of the additional training and examination I’m proposing…

Stop with the stupid pay-to-park service station rest areas

Motorway service station parking areas are a vital safety feature that many of us have needed to use over the years. A long, late drive – an overnight red-eye up north, and that all-important emergency nap can prove to be a lifesaver. And yet, if you stop at a UK service station, and choose to park there for more than two hours, you’re subjected to a parking charge. And woe betide you if you don’t pay.

Would it be too much to ask to remove these paid-for parking areas, and let people take a nap without worrying about incurring a costly and unnecessary fine?

In addition, why are motorway and A-road parking at such a premium in the UK. All across Europe, there are rest areas in motorways where people can stop, take a comfort break and do what they need to do without the full-blown stress of a service station stop. Those little aires you get in France are so useful and encourage drivers to take regular stops… why don’t we do this here?

Finally… enough, with the road closures!

Although it’s good to lessen the impact of road works, why is it that Highways England chooses to close roads and motorways in their entirety instead of narrowing them down and keeping the traffic flowing? Other countries seem to manage to avoid this situation. Night after night, week-in, week-out, our main arteries are being closed, causing untold (and illness-inducing) stress for drivers.

As you’ll see if you’ve clicked the link above, the Traffic England website is designed to keep drivers in the know about closures and major road works, allowing them to plan their journeys and avoid those nasty delays and diversions. It’s all part of the communication piece, isn’t it?

Well, actually no.

I could go on about this, as it’s my own personal bête noire, but I’ve ranted about this before, and would hate to be accused of repeating myself.

Keith Adams


  1. Really good ideas. Perhaps one more namely liberalising bus regulation. So if you want to set up a route, you do. This has created a rural bus network in Turkey second to none and Turkish intercities have hot meals and seat selection online. Ulusoy and Varan are perhaps the most advanced operators anywhere.

    • If they can make rural routes pay there, why not here? Presumably because so few people in Turkey own cars, so the bus is the only option. My own experiences in 2016 in Sri Lanka showed up both the popularity and danger of private bus travel. This year friends had three family members killed and another needing a privately paid for kidney transplant plus still ongoing care – just because a speed-merchant private company bus driver pulled out blind in front of the family’s car. Not all roses.

  2. “Those little aires you get in France are so useful and encourage drivers to take regular stops… why don’t we do this here?” Because of the Anglo-Saxon punish everyone culture?

    • Agree the French Aires and German Autobahn Raststatten are great. Trouble is in outsource UK who would run them? The likes of Moto, Welcome Break and Roadchef wont be interested because they wont make money from them. Leave them to Local Authorities or the Highways Agency and they will be rubbish dumps and dogging destinations in no time. As noted above the lowest common denominator Anglo-Saxon approach usually results in everything being shit here,

  3. You forgot possibly the biggest one..
    when there is an accident, clear it away as fast as possible, while there is a need to investigate, there’s little that can’t be done with photographic evident which does not take hours to collect. Dithering about for hours increases the risk of a subsequent accident. Better to get it cleared which is what happens on the continent

    • Sadly, a motorcyclist was killed on the M4 just before 0430 hrs on 18 Dec 2018, when his bike hit debris on the road surface. No other vehicles or people involved – but the police closed the motorway for SEVEN hours. Yes, they need to see if they can identify where the debris came from; yes they need to clear the debris – but SEVEN hours? That’s almost a whole shift. And when will the police stop calling all RTAs “Collisions”? When they obviously are not. This was not a “collision”; the bike hit some very stationary debris.

  4. Absolutely agree with all that’s been said – except I would go further and make the current RoSPA (at Silver not Bronze level) the minimum standard – so almost though not quite Police Class One. The ‘advanced’ standard should be the current Gold – and without dropping the police standard one tiny bit – Gold Drivers should get a significant reduction on their insurance premiums as statistically they are a much lower risk.
    None of this or any of your ideas will happen though as the guy in charge of roads is struggling on a mere £875,000 a year – 4 times more than the prime minister. As taxpayers we are clearly not going to get a lot for our money if we pay peanuts for these key positions.

  5. Scrap HS2 and spend the money (after reintroducing the Great Central line) on making roads safer, eg straightening out dangerous bends, making them wider with better visibility, improved cambers. Can’t imagine that happening round here where my local council put up the wrong road signs at random, have inconsistent lane markings at junctions and say that reducing visibility at roundabouts actually makes them safer. Flipping amateurs…. Oh, and find a way to get drivers turned round rather than spend hours stuck behind motorway accidents.

      • Regrettably, much of the Great (not Grand) Central was destroyed very soon after its closure – almost an act of vindictiveness: massive viaducts blown up, cuttings filled in, steel bridges cut up for scrap metal. In Australia there are lines closed decades ago that could be put back into use in months.
        While the GCR was the only main line built to the Continental loading gauge – it was intended to reach the south coast – and very much an express route for its day, a century or more later and top speeds have close to doubled.

  6. Some good ideas there but seems quite anti-HGV
    If there were more parking areas for HGVs they wouldnt need to be flat out all day to get to somewhere safe to park, also companies like Tescos who lowered their maximum speed to 52 cause congestion. Cars driving lower speeds than the lorries cause HGVs to pull out and overtake – then they miraculously speed up when you get level. If you let an HGV out to overtake by watching the road ahead they can keep momentum going and pass quicker, but most car drivers dont and by the time it pulls out it has dropped speed a little and now takes longer to pass. Also the amount of slow vehicles (wide loads/cranes etc) moving during daylight hours is worse now than when they were restricted, if all HGVs sit behind oneof these going up hill at 25-30mph the queues will be nose to tail for miles and the other vehicles wont be able to get on and off at junctions. I suggest by the same token all cars are limited to 70mph physically and if one car is doing 65-69mph no cars can overtake it. A lot of HGV drivers used to slow for 2 seconds to let another pass but that doesnt happen so much now. As for the merging , if the zip method was actually followed it would be great , but as a lot of drivers have the ‘must get in front of the HGV’ mentality I usually find three or four cars trying to drive alongside right up to the cones then try and push my HGV to let them in. Hopefully the new eyesight checks and middle lane hogging rules will be applied and take alot of these idiots either off the road or back to thinking about how they drive – but I’m doubtful

      • The supermarket and major manufacturer delivery “just in time” regimes have a lot to answer for regarding road and motorway problems. When an HGV or other lorry driver has a one hour slot he is told to abide by, what chance is there of “compassionate” driving? When I drove commercially, I saw tailgating HGVs time and again. I do not understand the various company-imposed vehicle speed limits, when there is a supposedly government-established safe lorry/HGV limit. Are the company-imposed limits based on the speedometer readings – or on GPS readings? If the latter, then they will be a lot more accurate than the speedo ones.

        • Company imposed limits are physical limits installed on the vehicle so they can’t go faster , originally made to reduce fuel consumption , theoretically all vehicles should be limited the same then and not at (up to) 56 mph , and due to the tacho calibration being regularly enforced you’ll find most trucks are accurate and match gps speeds , one of the reasons why lorries tailgate and seem to be speeding in roadworks , we usually aren’t we are 50mph and cars are not , but as in the point above they won’t move over and let the lorry go ,

          Yes the parking is atrocious and even if you pay to park in service areas there is no security and thefts still occur , with motorway companies accepting no responsibility even though the cost is between £26 and £41 a night , and as for lay-bys I won’t work for a company that doesn’t pay for secure parking , ok I’ll velirbr you aren’t anti HGV, just spend so much time having to justify even being on the road to people who love to moan , and we are only professional drivers in their eyes when things go wrong , seasons greetings

          • I am not ant-HGVs at all. Along with the shipping container, they have transformed goods transport. The alternative would twice as many smaller lorries. Regrettably lorry driving is looked down on in the UK, hence the lack of facilities provided for the vehicles and the drivers. Curiously, when driving through 50 mph roadworks, I trust my sat nav and not the vehicle’s (under reading) speedometer – and get dirty looks when overtaking 45 mph cars.

  7. I don’t think the speed limit needs to be increased. My Up! is quite an unpleasant place to be above 70mph. IMO the answer is equalised limits. Modern HGVs can travel safely at the same speeds as cars and coaches. If they did so, elephant racing and dangerous overtakes on A roads would be all but eliminated. If there is any benefit from brexit, the ability to vary our speed limits etc is one to use.

    • Perhaps you are forgetting the difference in mass or weight, and the momentum to be dissipated when braking. Also, the different characteristics when cornering. Just think of the stopping distance of a one tonne car compared to a 44 tonne lorry.

  8. Stop treating parking as a money making exercise and a way of bullying motorists with large fines for petty, stupid things like putting a ticket in the wrong side of a windscreen or being a minute late. Companies like Parking Eye and UKPC aren’t bothered about making parking a safe, decent experience, they only exist to rip people off through their scameras and fines.

  9. I am interested in the parking limits and charges. I have a strong suspicion that in many cases they breach certain conditions of both the original planning consents for service areas, and the terms of the licenses under which the service areas’ operators were granted permission to operate them . They are certainly wholly inappropriate and create danger where none should exist

  10. The UK government should take ownership of the M6 Toll compensating the present owners IFM Investors accordingly.
    Just imagine how much easier it would be to travel through/past the West Midlands.

  11. Sorry but this article treats people’s time and money as if they have zero value, look up opportunity costs.

    Testing, training and other similar stuff cost money, a great deal of money when applied to the whole population of drivers. Given there are 40 million drivers a retest or training every 20 years would cost ~£500-10000 million depending on how long it is and how much you bill for the lost working/leisure time.

    Experienced/older drivers are not the ones generating the accidents.

    If you wanted to sort out roads:

    1: Focus on improving and bypassing two lane A/B roads with bad congestion/accident records.

    2: Look at incentives for road building and maintenance schemes, the cost of closing roads needs to come out of the budget/bonuses of those in a position to affect the result/planning, it is not acceptable to run narrow lanes for 15 miles for 3 years.

    3: Roads need a DARPA (see wiki, they invented the internet, GPS amongst their many triumphs) a small well funded research and development arm is needed to produce radical high payoff technology for transport and it needs to be able to get these solutions to a credible demonstration before the main department gets ahold of them.

    • “Experienced/older drivers are not the ones generating the accidents.”

      That isn’t entirely true. You’re right that older drivers are generally safer, all you have to do is look at insurance costs. Insurance companies give lower quotes to older drivers for a reason.

      This isn’t true of drivers in their 70’s and 80’s. Insurance costs for those drivers start rising again and for good reason. Many older drivers simply shouldn’t be on the road. We have all seen stories in the news about old drivers who have killed people because they could barely see or couldn’t react in time.

      I have seen this myself. A little old lady from our street who damaged multiple cars trying to get out of a supermarket carpark near us. In the end it was annoying for the owners of the cars involved but it could have been allot more serious.

      So retesting for drivers at 70 is not a bad idea.

  12. “Introduce keep-left-unless overtaking signs
    UK drivers’ lane discipline on motorways and dual carriageways is notoriously bad. Ask anyone who’s returned from an overseas drive, or who’s driving on an empty piece of motorway overnight why they see so many people driving in the middle- or outside-lane, and they’ll not be able to answer.”

    I always have one question for people who complain about middle land hogs. Do they pull in left themselves?

    The reality is most people who complain about lane hogs spend their entire lives in the right hand lanes and basically want them completely clear as their own private lanes.

    On the joke Northern motorway network staying in the left lane is a pain, it is full of lorries and you spend your entire life bobbing in and out going round them. Yes the little old lady blocking the middle lane in a Nissan Micra is a pain but so are the Audi/BMW/put sterotype car here drivers who complain about middle lane hogs; who spend all their time in the middle and right hand lanes

  13. “Cars are safer now than ever before. Thanks to improved crash-mitigation technology and ever-stronger cars, the likelihood of being injured in a crash are lower than ever. Fewer cars crash in the first place, too – and when did you last read in the news about a motorway pile-up?

    So, why is it that we’re saddled with a 70mph national speed limit conceived in 1965, when our cars are so capable? Stopping distances have reduced significantly, while high-speed handling is so much better than ever – even the most inattentive drivers can avoid mayhem.

    Isn’t it time to raise the limit to a more Euro-standard 80 or 85mph? Most cars built in the last 40 years are more than capable of, nay optimised to, drive at 80mph – sometimes not feeling settled and in their stride at the UK’s antediluvian 70mph limit.”

    Since the 1960’s traffic levels have massively increased. I can’t remember the last time I saw a clear motorway.

    The big problem is British drivers have poor discipline, you raise the limit to 80-85 and they will do 100-110mph. I agree that drivers should be trusted as grownups to drive safely for the conditions and their ability. Alas we are a nation of children who simply can’t be trusted.

    Besides the way to get traffic to flow better is to actually reduce the limit and enforce it with cameras. I hated managed motorways when they were introduced but they do improve traffic flow.

    Now if you want to get rid of some of the absurd limits our incompetent councils are introducing, I am with you 100%. Our idiot council are imposed 30 limits on roads that use to be NSL that run passed nothing but fields. Not to mention 20 limits imposed on roads that have never had an accident.

  14. “I always have one question for people who complain about middle land hogs. Do they pull in left themselves?” Those complainants are often faced with a member of CLOG – Centre Lane Owners’ Group – travelling at under 70 mph in the second/middle lane. The choice is to overtake or ‘undertake’, both of which are legal if carried out carefully. Often, I will slowly undertake a vehicle, all the time prepared for it to move to Lane One without signalling. Or I will move from Lane One to Lane Three, pass the CLOGer, and move back into Lane One. Occasionally the CLOGer will get the message and move into Lane One. When I was driving 7.5 tonners – with a motorway speed limit of 70 mph – I would do either of the above, often to the annoyance of the CLOGer. Similarly, I would legally use Lane Three at 70 mph when the other two lanes were congested – much to the umbrage of car drivers wanting to do more than 70 mph. That was when there were paper disc tachographs, and the speed limit for 7.5 tonners on motorways was 70 mph.

    Somehow – despite the obvious lack of discipline of ‘British’ drivers – the UK has some of the lowest accident rate roads in the world. Why I do not know.
    This lack of discipline is the main factor behind NOT raising speed limits. UK drivers will not slow down in fog and heavy rain, nor obey motorway Lane Closed and advisory speed limit signs. Of course there are still multi-vehicle motorway accidents, many from blind tailgating – another British habit.
    To talk of cars “sometimes not feeling settled and in their stride at the UK’s antediluvian 70mph limit” has me wondering which ones they are – and how they manage in towns.

    As for “Besides the way to get traffic to flow better is to actually reduce the limit and enforce it with cameras. I hated managed motorways when they were introduced but they do improve traffic flow”, I first saw variable speed limits when in West Germany in the army in the early 1960s, around Dusseldorf. They worked then, and they do today, reducing vehicle braking distances.

    This demand for higher speed limits for cars ignores how the world got by before the internal combustion engine. Despite no more Concordes, people still fly across the Atlantic.

  15. Lower private cars speed to 56 mph same as trucks with limiters , cars are now much safer but the drivers are much more dangerous ! texting , drugs , phoning , race track attitude , slow them down and space out the traffic ,to keep it moving , why do they get their cheap fuel from ? my 1967 Volvo is supposed to do 18 mpg , I get 32- 33 ! , cut pollution and drive like an adult .

    • No one seems to know the reason for the 56 mph lorry speed limiters. If for safety, why are coaches not also limited to 56 mph, bearing in mind their weight and the number of passengers in each? If for fuel consumption or exhaust emissions, likewise why not coaches as well? And 56 mph is only a conversion from 90 km/h, a standard speed limit on the Continent. Getting ready for an EU enforced conversion to road signs, etc? The motorway verge location signs are already in kilometres.

        • Thanks, Paul. A perfect example of the UK having to obey EU rules, even though our own ‘safe’ speed limit is 4 mph faster? And Remainers say we do not have to do what Brussels tells us to do. Did we have any choice here? EU website: “A ‘directive’ is a legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve. However, it is up to the individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals.” So, Remainers would argue we did not have to impose this 4 mph reduction – we just did what we were “directed” to do. But being good Communitaires, the govt did just that. What is the difference between a definite outcome and a “goal”? Not much, it seems……

          • Oh dear it has nothing to do with nasty Europeans trying to take us over by fiddling with our speed limits. If you have a single market then you need common regulations, otherwise countries use regulations to create barriers to trade.

            Having common rules for lorries makes it easier for them to travel across the EU. The single market with common rules was a British idea in the first place.

            I hate to break the bad news to brexiters but under May’s brexit deal we still have to obey all the rules, without having a say over any of them. Is that your idea idea of taking back control?

          • So….no control over EU regulations eh? Oh, hang on……do you mean, just like every other market we sell into worldwide?

  16. Just like the insurance apps you can get, there should be an app that tracks your route and uses sensors to log when you hit a pothole or damage in the road surface. Collating this from many drivers should show up where the worst potholes are and then target and get hem fixed. The tech is all in place.

  17. I do not recall an EU “directive” saying we should drive on the right. Driving on the left for all the Continental lorry drivers must be an infringement of “common rules”.

    Briefly, May is a remainer and no more wants the UK to leave the EU than did Cameron – hence the shambolic two years since the referendum. I have no truck with the mess she has created. We should abide by WTO rules, not EU rules, and treat each EU country individually. And recreate our own trading group: the Empire/Commonwealth.

    • Creating a new trading bloc with other members of the commonwealth is an interesting idea, but I’m not sure that it could replace the trade deal that we are about to walk away from.

      I’ve had a quick look at IMF GDP figures for 2017 quoted on Wikipedia and I offer this as a rough idea. I might have messed up the sums, but hopefully I am not too far off. But I am not an economist and know nothing about trade, so if I am missing something I hope someone will explain where I am going wrong.

      The whole of the rest of the Commonwealth (so excluding the UK and Commonwealth countries that are in the EU) GDP probably equals less than 55% of that of the other 27 EU countries combined. Only three other Commonwealth countries are in the world top 25 by GDP – India, Canada and Australia. If you leave out the Commonwealth top 10 by GDP, then all the rest added together have a GDP about the same as Poland, which is 24th in the table.

      The point I am trying to make is that we are leaving a very wealthy market to which we currently have uninhibited access and it will be difficult to replace anything we lose when we go, even with a deal.

      I don’t think our old Commonwealth friends can fill the gap. We make and provide at the top end of the manufacturing and services industries and most of the countries in the Commonwealth are not in a position to buy very much of what we sell. And bear in mind that we already have a good trading deal with some of them through the EU.

      Then there is a another problem. This huge and wealthy EU market is more or less on our doorstep. Many of the Commonwealth countries are much further away and the standard analysis is that doubling the distance halves the trade, and it is even worse for services. See https://www.ft.com/content/964afa06-8f0b-11e6-8df8-d3778b55a923

      I am not sure that the Commonwealth is the opportunity that you hope it could be.

  18. This has become a somewhat toxic thread now, but honestly – “miles are better than kilometres” – “you’ll never take my feet and inches away” – “we’ll build a new global empire because we’re British”. In the same way we supposedly can’t do separate deals with countries because we are in the EU means others who are in the EU can’t do a separate deal with us! So we have to reach an agreement with the bloc – and we have a good one of those with a say in it at the moment.

    Does logic simply not exist in a Brexit world?

    • I am wary of anyone who says “but honestly”. Or who mentions “logic”.

      The USA has not gone metric, I never said “miles are better than kilometres”, I’ve used both metric and imperial units for over six decades. Nor did I talk of “a global empire because we’re British” – but a trading bloc where we speak (largely) the same language, where we have a common history centuries old, as opposed to a few decades of the EEC/EC/EU. Think of what our joining the EEC did for Australia’s and New Zealand’s exports to the UK – when Edward Heath turned his back on the Commonwealth to join an organisation that did not want us, whose figurehead de Gaulle repeatedly rebuffed our joining. When we did join we were told it was a trading group, nothing about “ever closer union”. The result of the 1975 referendum was respected. Why is that of the 2016 one not? There is no “supposed” about what deals we can currently do with non-EU countries, or even with EU ones. Why should supposedly sovereign countries have to ask unelected Eurocrats permission to do anything?

      If logic is to be mentioned, where is the logic in one country having to do what 27 other countries decide it should do? The only toxicity I see is the poisoning of minds by those who prefer rule from Brussels to rule from Westminster.

      • The result of the 2016 referendum is being respected. Legislation has been passed, A50 has been triggered and unless something happens to change events we will leave on 29 March.

        It also seems likely that the deal negotiated by Mrs May will be rejected so, again unless event change, we will leave without a deal which means WTO terms. Which is what you said you wanted.

        Your final paragraph confuses me. If we have joined a democratic union with rules that require majority decisions, then haven’t we agreed to participate in and abide by those majority decisions?

        You seem to want the majority decision reached in the referendum to be adhered to, so how can you disagree with EU majority voting?

        • The result of the 2016 referendum was a shock to David Cameron – hence his standing down as PM; he never expected the majority of voters to vote Leave, thus the total lack of a Leave programme – and he engineered a Remainer to take over, creating two years of bickering and acquiescing to Brussels all the way along the line.

          If May’s “negotiated deal” is rejected, she has only herself to blame. She has failed to stand up for the UK because she is a Remainer, a vegan in a butcher’s shop. Hence the current shambles.

          I am sure with the right – pro-Leave – PM a pro-UK deal could have been obtained. And, as I have said, a deal involving the Commonwealth, which Heath did the dirty on all those years ago. A WTO deal is about the best we can now hope for.

          To call the EU “democratic” is to say the Communist “German Democratic Republic” was democratic. As for “If we have joined a democratic union”, we were told by Heath we were joining an “Economic Union”, and that was repeated in the 1975 referendum – nothing about open borders, loss of sovereignty, having to do what unelected Eurocrats told us to do, or majority voting. And at the time there was just a handful of Western European countries in the EEC. Now most of the continent of Europe to the borders of Asia wants to tell us how we should live in the UK.

          I doubt if W E Johns’s RAF pilot would have voted Remain.

          • Eric, I think you are mistaken.

            “I am sure with the right – pro-Leave – PM a pro-UK deal could have been obtained. And, as I have said, a deal involving the Commonwealth, which Heath did the dirty on all those years ago. A WTO deal is about the best we can now hope for.”

            I have no respect for Theresa May, but given the strain and the ordure and humiliation heaped upon her over the last two and a half years, are you really suggesting she has not worked, even if incompetently, for Brexit? Is there any evidence other than conspiracy theory to support that idea? How were we ever going to get a pro-UK deal? Why should we? There is no UK exceptionalism that requires the EU to give us a pro-UK deal: the EU looks after its members.

            As for a Commonwealth deal, I have previously pointed out some problems. Could you please explain why so many remote and economically tiny countries are an exciting prospect?

            Until March 29th we already have the best deal we can get. WTO terms aren’t the best we can hope for; they are the dismal default terms for a nation choosing to make its condition worse.

            “To call the EU “democratic” is to say the Communist “German Democratic Republic” was democratic.”

            That is clearly not the case. Are you really suggesting that a citizen of East Germany had as much meaningful democratic participation as a citizen of any other EU country at the time? If so, could you please point me towards the evidence? The first free elections in East Germany were not until 1990.

            The often reviled EU commission proposes new legislation but can only do so in areas where EU governments have unanimously agreed it can do so. That seems democratic to me and effectively gives any member country an initial veto. The 27 other countries aren’t telling us what to do any more than we are telling them. It is a consensus.

            And even then, a proposal – probably after much amendment – does not become law until it receives a qualified majority in the EU council and a simple majority in the elected EU parliament.
            If you care to read this article:-


            The above and other EU democratic issues are explained more clearly than I can. It also suggests that the EU Commission has a much weaker position in the EU than the government has in the UK, so it is not overbearing.
            To be honest, I don’t have the depth of knowledge to properly critique the article, but if you do, please explain any errors.

            I’m not suggesting that the EU is a perfect democratic organisation and doubtless it could be improved. But whilst we proudly claim that we have the mother of parliaments, is the EU less democratic than our own sovereign parliament?

            Mrs May became PM as the unopposed candidate after the others had been knocked out by a vote of Conservative MPs, or had decided to withdraw. So she was unelected. Even when she went to a General Election in 2017 she was not able to obtain a majority. Although she is correctly the PM under our system, she does not have wide democratic support and to be honest, if there was a competent opposition leader, she would have gone long ago.

            Ministers in the UK are appointed by the PM and might not even be elected MPs. The House of Lords consists of 790 members, most of whom, were appointed. But whilst many are there on merit and usefully contribute, many others are political friends and donors who have no useful experience in government or as law makers, yet can still vote on legislation that tells us what to do. Then, of course, there are 92 hereditary peers and 26 Bishops, none of whom, in my opinion, should have any role in parliament.

            If the EU is less democratic than the former GDR, how does the UK compare?

            As for the fictional Biggles, well, who knows? But In Biggles Sweeps the Desert he offers the hand of friendship and trust twice to enemy combatants. Once he is cruelly rebuffed, but on another occasion his opposite number returns the favour. I think those are good signs.

  19. Problem with roads in this country is the poor management of them by local councils and central government. It is also not just the roads, Bus deregulation is now coming apart at the seams with First having problems and DB looking at possibly selling Arriva. Trains are just as bad with lack of investment for many years now causing so many headaches in both the cost of upgrading and capacity.
    As with much of the UK we tear ourselves apart with short termism and bad management. The road behind my house was top dressed when there was not much wrong with the surface, while just around the corner the road service is appalling! There is too much tick boxing and bureaucrats sticking there nose in – I know I work for local government (not highways) and coming from the private industry it frustrates you hugely.

    • Perhaps Deutsches Bahn could sell Arriva to the UK Government…….

      I read that Gatwick Airport is to be majority owned by a Spanish firm. Que?

  20. Ditch so-called ‘smart’ motorways which are downright dangerous. There have now been several cases of life-saving emergency services being delayed in attending accidents because the motorway is completely blocked. Cars cannot simply spring out of the way like Zebedees once traffic has stopped. Boiing!

    Oh, and abolish the M6 Toll…

    …and hurry up and build the Lower Thames Crossing.

    And… and… and…

    Happy New Year!

  21. Give way text on motorway or trunk road entry slip roads like elsewhere. I think some drivers are unsure and panic while others don’t try to adjust speed and believe it’s their right to barge-in regardless. Yes, I know, it’s common sense to let someone in when it’s safe to do so.

    Diesel on roundabouts. Nothing against vans or HGVs in general, but it’s completely unnecessary and if it’s not wet, it’s hard to spot. This makes no odds to car drivers, but it still gets washed into drains.

    Speed limits. Disagree about raising them. 80 would become 90. Driving at 70 (in the right conditions) in the correct lane is not anti-social. I don’t care how powerful someone else’s car is. I don’t know why cars and bikes aren’t limited, or maybe I do. The same reason we did stuff-all against VW when it chose to intentionally cheat emissions tests.

    Road closures. I agree. Gather evidence by all means, but also make it someone’s pay-related target to open roads as quickly as possible.

    No HGV overtaking while climbing hills. Anyone who has has this misfortune on a two-lane motorway like the M50 will know; especially with another car two inches from the bumper or back wheel.

    Accept that our roads are over-crowded and learn some patience. It’s crap for all of us, but life’s easier if we share the space without ranting.

    Training. Maybe. I do a fair amount of bike training, but I’m not interested in getting ripped-off by another stealth tax.

    Finally, fines for anything that belches exhaust smoke or fumes over adjacent footpaths or other road users. Oh, that would require people rather than cameras.

    I haven’t logged-in for a while because I like reading about cars rather than politics when I get a spare minute. I can watch BBC/ITV if the day comes when that’s preferable to a dose of the squits. Back to MCN then.

  22. Thank you, Biggles, for you reply.
    As Sir Christopher Chope, a local MP, said at the meeting some two hundred or more people attended on Saturday, we can walk away without the deal Theresa May is trying to force on the country. And we can have a WTO terms deal instead. In 2007, WTO member states represented 96.4% of global trade and 96.7% of global GDP.
    When Cameron ducked out of the consequences of the Leave vote – one he never expected, and so had nothing in place to deal with – May, for whatever reason, became PM. I suspect it was a prize she could not turn down, and that it was agreed she would go through the Leave motions while keeping the UK tied to the EU in as many ways as possible.
    Re “How were we ever going to get a pro-UK deal?”, the answer was with a pro-Brexit PM. As to “Why should we?” because we have been a major contributor to the EEC/EC/EU throughout our membership, and that deserves recognition.
    Regarding re-establishing our links with the Commonwealth, what does any country need to survive? Supplies of food and raw materials, proper defence forces, trading partners on fair terms, markets for its goods. As for “why so many remote and economically tiny countries are an exciting prospect?”, the last thing I want with trading partners is “an exciting prospect”. Is Canada economically tiny? Or Australia? Or India? Or even Singapore? As for being “remote”, with containerisation, the distance goods need to be transported is one of the smallest parts of their cost.
    If the WTO terms are “dismal”, why are countries from Australia to the USA members?
    In “To call the EU ‘democratic’ is to say the Communist ‘German Democratic Republic’ was democratic”, I was saying that the EU is not democratic. Yes, there are certain majority vote procedures, but the unknown Eurocrats of Brussels are the people who dream up the steps to “ever-closer union”. And those steps result in more Communitaire law.
    Between 1994 and 2015 the EU’s own Court of Auditors found “material errors” in the accounts for every one of those years. That is when over 2% of payments contained errors. In 2016 “it did find that 3.1% of EU spending was subject to error. This is slightly lower than in previous years”. And those are the sort of people to whom we should be handing over UK taxpayers’ money? Imagine not being able to account accurately for £3 in every hundred of a business you are running. HMRC would love you.
    The way the 1975 referendum held back important information for that ‘people’s vote’ on staying or leaving was certainly not democratic. Wilson was told about – and brushed aside – the destruction of UK trade with the Commonwealth.
    To say we have “our own sovereign parliament”, when it can be and has been over-ruled by EU legislators – to which our Europhilic MPs have handed that power – is to turn the word sovereign on its head.
    As for how May became PM, it was still her choice. She could have said No – but she chose to say Yes. I do not see how anyone with any honour or morals can vote Remain and then choose to take on the job of the UK leaving the EU. As I said above, she has just been going through the motions. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. I’d like to see May’s Equity card!
    The current House of Lords is a joke, with close on 800 members, and rising. It has become the automatic well paid cushy billet for anyone in favour, political or otherwise. Speaker Bercow will be there some day soon. What is needed is an alternative view on parliamentary matters, something that did exist back in the hereditary days. Not now though.
    As for how democratic is the UK, I have long said the word democracy has been misused for ages. Perhaps the Greeks had true democracy, when those entitled to vote did so directly. All we have is elective oligarchies, where we cannot even choose “None of the above”.
    I smiled at the example you gave of Biggles being rebuffed and being thanked. Think of de Gaulle’s rebuffs time and again. But still he was crawled to. As for us being done a favour by letting us eventually join the then EEC, what a poisoned chalice that has proved to be.

  23. The roads in West Cumbria are a disgrace. The A595 has to go through the suburbs of Whitehaven and is frequently nose to tail at peak times, and if a pair of temporary traffic lights appear for roadworks, then huge tailbacks appear. Also the A597 through south Workington has become very congested due to new housing estates. Both places desperately need to be by passed, but a plan to by pass south Workington was put on hold during the recession and a Whitehaven relief road is several years away.

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