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Tories woo voters with congestion busting roads standards unit

A CONSERVATIVE Government will set up a Roads Standards Unit to set speed limits and develop congestion busting plans, according to the Tory party's election manifesto, published last week.

The unit will be staffed by independent road experts with the power to set speed limits. In some cases it could increase motorway speed limits to 130k/h.

It would also identify junctions where cars could turn left on red lights to ease congestion and would be able to close down under used motorway bus lanes.

The pledge comes after the government set up talks in January with the Highways Agency and road user groups to discuss the establishment of an independent roads inspectorate (NCE 18 January).

The Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions has yet to publish a firm proposal.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives axe would fall on congestion and workplace charges. Their manifesto pledge to abolish them comes in the week that Transport for London is reported to be close to selecting prequalifiers for setting up a congestion charging scheme for the capital.

The manifesto fails to make a firm commitment to the government's £180bn 10 year transport plan, saying only: 'We will set out long term investment for road and public transport.'

Other Tory transport pledges are to cut tax on petrol by 6p a litre, charge foreign lorries for use of British roads and cut taxes on cleaner fuels and cleaner vehicles.

Pledges on urban regeneration proposals include setting up 'local regeneration companies' with statutory powers to accelerate the planning and development of run down areas and 'tear down the worst tower blocks'.

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