Chief executive of Next, Lord Wolfson, has launched a competition with a £250,000 prize for the best idea for funding improvements to the road network.
Launched in conjunction with think tank Policy exchange, the 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize asks: ‘How can we pay for better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is fair to road users and good for the economy and the environment?’
Blue sky thinking? Lord Wolfson is looking for fresh ideas
Entries are invited from individuals working alone or together, as well as organisations and businesses, to be considered by a panel including former chancellor and transport secretary Lord Alistair Darling.
Launching the competition, Lord Wolfson, said: ‘The problem is not money, but the way it is managed. In Britain, road users pay far more to the Government in vehicle excise duties and petrol taxes than is spent on the system in return. It should be possible to improve roads without increasing the cost of using them.’
He added: ‘Past attempts to reform the system have often failed on technological or political grounds but now the way cars are powered, driven and owned is being revolutionised. Soon a world of cleaner, automated vehicles will arrive and old annual charges and petrol taxes will no longer work. A new kind of driving will take a new kind of road and a new kind of funding.‘
Proposals, which should be capable of adapting to different types of local and national traffic, should address ‘things which do not work well at present, such as managing the burden of maintenance, safety for all types of road users, and congestion’, and ‘give great weight to the possibilities and requirements of new technology, including fuel types, digital communication and autonomous vehicles’.
The closing date for entries is 2 March 2017, with a shortlist announced the next month. Finalists will be given until June to expand their submissions, and the winners will be announced in July.