For too long in this country we have been playing catch up when it comes to infrastructure investment. We have accepted that the UK can't afford to invest in infrastructure projects for the future growing needs of our country and instead only spends enough to maintain the existing infrastructure. We are fixing potholes, but failing to build the new roads to unclog our traffic plagued regions. More than this, new infrastructure spending is allocated to high growth areas, such as London and the south east on the basis of economic models which assume regional prosperity as given, not a function or result of the infrastructure and spending decisions of previous generations. This means that the limited infrastructure spending that exists is almost solely allocated to the economically successful regions of the country. This infrastructure allocation accelerates the clustering of wealth and further deepens the regional divides, which are one of the greatest challenges the United Kingdom faces. To put this into perspective, the UK government currently spends £1943 on transport infrastructure per person in London, while the North East and North West of the country only receive £220 and £680 per head respectively. This stinks of economic neglect of vast swathes of the United Kingdom and if we are to have a Brexit which works for everybody, not just London, it is vital that this regional gap is closed.
With clear holes in our infrastructure plan, it is blatantly clear that our infrastructure does need targeted significant investment to take it into the 21st century. Slow internet speeds are a drag on productivity and it is the responsibility of the UK government to correct this lack of investment by British Telecom, who have exploited their position as a natural monopoly to rip off British consumers. Water leakage rates are wasteful and leave the UK with a weakened ability to respond to crises, drought and floods. Road traffic and underinvestment in rail by Network Rail, the UK state rail monopoly, hold back the expansion of growth outside of London. Closing the infrastructure gap could be one of the key solutions to closing the prosperity gap between different parts of the UK.
We propose 4 core pillars to close this prosperity gap.
- Preparing our road network for self-driving vehicles: By upgrading 50% of the 196,306 of C, D & U network roads into 2-4 lane roads.
- Cycling path explosion: 50% of the roads across the country to have dedicated cycle paths and pedestrian paths protected from traffic.
- Electrifying our roads: by installing 500,000 electric charger stations across the country.
- Rail Upgrade: Allocate £8bn/year of additional investment outside of London to finance electrification and the construction of new lines such as the Cambridge-Oxford corridor and the Manchester-Liverpool interchange.