I have heard that famous curse being quoted with increasing frequency over the last few months… ‘may you live in interesting times’! And still the uncertainties increase.
OK so the most recent General Election has thrown a spanner in the works which was most welcome given the path the UK has been going down, all we need now is Operation Stop Brexit to really gain momentum and crack on with stopping the national suicide mission we have been working on for the last 12 months!
But I want to reflect on the more mundane issue of how we continue to move issues forward – particularly in transport terms – given we appear to be marching into inertia at national Government level – which neatly mirrors Theresa May’s chap who became the West Midlands Mayor and has been invisible by comparison to the Mayors of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester. Mind you, given the West Mids Mayor was supported by the usual suspects in Central Birmingham and Solihull who stated that his closeness to Theresa May and comfort with Brexit was a positive… well that doesn’t look quite so helpful now does it?
But back to transport. There is a lot happening outside of the UK including major moves in autonomous vehicles, digital railway technologies including signalling, alternative energy systems are all making significant progress. These are areas that Britain is aiming to become a leader in but with Government getting mired in Brexit / elections / appalling coalitions of chaos and cruelty, we are in serious danger of slipping out of a leading position in these fields which will bring compounded damage alongside the uncertainty of trying to find our lonely place in the world outside of the major trading blocs.
I have still not had any convincing evidence to demonstrate how Brexit can bring benefit – the phrase we don’t know until it happens reinforces for me the negative view of why we would walk away from Europe and towards Donald Trump, although given recent policy moves and actions I guess there are a number of similarities between a swathe of Britain and Trump and his mob.
Anyway, we always have the positive that UKIP is hopefully going to dissolve back into its cess pit… 🙂
For transport and infrastructure, well the danger is that public funding is diverted away to protect our ailing health and education services. The next Government(s) desperately need to better grasp how private finance can be incentivised to provide the support to maintain and develop our creaking infrastructure. So far there has been little change demonstrated. If we go into a major economic downturn that impacts transport demand then public finance will have to take the strain against the backdrop of further funding cuts as tax take drops.
Now is the time to be bold, unleash transport and infrastructure from such centralised command and control. This is an area that can support the growth that is going to cushion the economic pain we are going to feel; likewise, given the dire air quality issues we face, creative policy making and implementation can make much bigger changes. Given central government is going to be absolutely overwhelmed, why create a total block on development and serious progress in transport and infrastructure in the coming years?? Especially when we need that progress more than ever??
So given we face interesting times following the June 2017 election and a likely follow up general election surely not that far away, along with the appalling prospect of leaving Europe, while Trump continues hellbent on working with Putin to destroy the world… couldn’t we get the positive development of almost hiving out domestic growth and development policy (specifically transport and wider infrastructure) to different institutions to move those areas forward away from the quicksand of the mega-issues of the day?