First they came for heavy industry. Then the energy sector. Then bus and train transport. Then water and air traffic control.
Now capital is pushing for the privatisation of Britain's motorway network.
From Business Times:
A radical plan to raise £100 billion by privatising the motorway network has been presented to the three main political parties by NM Rothschild, the influential investment bank.
Rothschild, an architect of several privatisations, made its pitch in the weeks running up to the summer recess on July 21, Whitehall sources said. Bankers told leading politicians that the sale of the roads overseen by the Highways Agency — all motorways and most big trunk roads — could help revive battered public finances.
Toll-road companies and infrastructure funds would compete to operate and maintain stretches of the network.
In one version of the scheme, the government would pay for upkeep through a system of “shadow” tolls. A more radical, and less politically palatable, option would be for companies to charge motorists directly through toll booths or electronic card readers. The RAC Foundation, a motorists’ group, advocated privatisation in a report last week.
The Rothschild plan has already won the support of Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader and Treasury spokesman.
“This is an attractive, positive idea which could release considerable resources to the public finances and may have real environmental merits,” Cable said. “The scale of it is vast — it makes rail privatisation look like small beer.”