“Don’t try and talk to the politicians – the truth is actually having good relations with… politicians will have very little impact on the actual decisions government takes,” explains former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on this week’s Highways Voices.

He joined an ITS UK meeting last week and was interviewed by Highways Voices host Paul Hutton, who recorded the chat for you to feature on this week’s podcast.

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Mr Grayling was asked how to influence policy, and pointed out what ministers don’t do: “Ministers have no involvement in procurement, they have little involvement in decisions about technology,” he said. “A recommendation come from a civil servant to say we’ve evaluated these three things – we need this change the regulations in order to make that happen, do you agree? But that will come from the civil service, I will come from expert panels set up to look at individual issues. It may come from local authority pressure, it may come from outside bodies, like the RAC and the AA. Actually, the last people you want to be focusing all your time and effort on is politicians, because government doesn’t work like that.”

In the conversation, Mr Grayling discusses his past before parliament, his experience in the role and key issues around smart motorways and road safety and public opinion, plus the “elephant in the room” – Road User Charging. He also explained how, when you’re Secretary of State, you can expect to be blamed for things that are not your fault.

“I don’t think we’re going to wake up one morning and have a government white paper saying we’re going to introduce a pay per mile on every stretch of road in the UK,” he said. “What I do think is we’re going to see more… paid for miles for lorries on motorways, for example, it may mean pay per mile in and around urban areas. I think that the Treasury is going to have a deep desire to introduce road user charging in order to offset the loss of revenue from electric vehicles, but I’m not convinced it’s going to get its way anytime soon.”

You’ll also hear the latest from our pages on Highways News, plus reaction to the Transport Technology Forum’s conference, the latest from Live Labs 2, ITS UK’s briefing for newly-elected politicians, and a new invention to be shown off at this year’s LCRIG Innovation and Learning Festival.


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