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Please find below a selection of the latest analysis by the RAC Foundation:
Mobile phone coverage across the GB road network
Almost 4,600 miles of British roads have no 2G mobile phone coverage from any network provider meaning drivers couldn’t call for help in the case of a breakdown, accident or emergency.
The stretches of road – measuring 4,561 miles in total – represent 2% of the length of Britain’s road network and are to be found in 49 separate local authority areas.
A further 28,975 miles of road (12%) have only partial 2G coverage meaning there are many areas where some but not all phones will receive a signal depending on the service provider.
Council parking ‘profits’ up again in England
English councils have made another record surplus from their parking activities, hitting almost £700 million.
In 2014/15 councils in England generated a combined ‘profit’ of £693 million from their day to day, on and off street parking operations.
This is a 4% increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667 million. £308 million (44%) of the overall surplus total was generated by councils in London.
Although not all councils made a large surplus, few lost money on their parking activities.
Just 57 (16%) of the 353 local authorities in England reported negative numbers.
Local authority bridge maintenance
Almost 2,400 council-maintained road bridges in Great Britain are sub-standard.
Data collected and analysed by the RAC Foundation found that some 2,375 structures over 1.5m in span are not fit to carry the heaviest vehicles now seen on our roads, including lorries of up to 44 tonnes.
Many of these bridges have weight restrictions. Others will be under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline.
These 2,375 bridges represent 3% of the estimated 71,000 local road bridges in Britain. Some of the bridges will be sub-standard because they were built to earlier design standards. Others will have deteriorated through age and use.
The condition and funding of England’s local roads
Capital spending on local roads in England is at its lowest level for well over a decade.
In the last two financial years £1.8 billion has been spent annually on capital works which include road renewals and improvement. This is the lowest amount since 2001/02.
Much of the money for capital spending by councils comes from the Department for Transport in the form of the Highways Maintenance Block Grant but that fell by 18% in real terms between 2011/12 and 2014/15.
Other sources of funds for capital spending include borrowing and capital receipts. English councils are responsible for maintaining 185,000 miles of local highways, 90% of which are minor roads.
Access to some 25 million properties is by local road.
Almost one in five (18%) miles of unclassified road is in need of maintenance, four times more than motorways and major A roads.
The analysis is contained in a report by transport consultant and RAC Foundation trustee, David Bayliss.
The new car market could reach a record breaking 2.8 million units in 2016, according to Andy Barratt, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Britain. Barratt also believes the market for new light commercial vehicles could also hit a new high.
Barratt said his prediction for the new car market was based on the continued strength of sterling, low interest rates, three year PCP renewals, an ageing car parc and consumer confidence at a 15 year high. Meanwhile commercials would benefit from demand created by government funded infrastructure projects and growth in the construction sector.
“The market next year will grow further at around a 2.7-2.8 million car market and around 450,000 commercials; that’s where we see the market.
“What we have is a very strong pound, so if you produce in Euroland then the base margin you have coming here with a car built in Europe is that much better, the reality is that margin upside is turning into a customer offer, none of that extra margin is sticking to anyone’s fingers. This means you have ultra-competitive car offers, particularly around PCPs, that are really going to drive very strong consumer offers.”
Barratt said the UK sales will continue to driven by PCPs with over 80% of Ford retail sales now being financed by these schemes, a figure he said was slightly higher than the industry average.
“We [the industry] have got great supply, because everyone’s sending their products here, a fresh line-up of products from most manufacturers and a PCP bases that is renewing across all brands. In addition to that the vehicle parc is probably the oldest it has been for many years so there’s a lot of product out there that needs renewing.”
Barratt said demand for commercials would also rise as a result of growth in the house building sector and infrastructure projects as well as the rollout of new Euro 6 compliant diesel engines. Last year LCV registrations grew 18.6% to 321,686 units and the SMMT predicts 2015 will close on a new high of 375,000 units, the biggest market since 2007 when 337,741 units were registered.
“With commercial vehicles we’re seeing improving supply and new product in the market and the change from Stage 5 to Stage 6 diesels which will cause a flurry. Also, post “Dieselgate” there is a desire from a lot of corporates to be very green and very ethical so Stage 6 will appeal to them too.
“Also in the Autumn Statement there were announcements on spending on infrastructure projects and they always bring capital spending which means people will need vehicles and equipment for those projects. There’s a vibrant growing economy that will drive the desire for commercial vehicles.
Source: Motor Trader