Local: The Proposed Extension to the Blue House Roundabout in Newcastle U. Tyne

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The Blue House Roundabout: Reconsidered

The original plans for a new roundabout are now being re-considered. Policy should now address the fundamental market failures associated with private motor transport rather than tackling less significant issues such as limited vehicle idling at junctions. Market failures, in the market for transport, occur when motorists imposes external costs on society. These costs include motor vehicle accidents, widespread air pollution and the contribution towards climate disruption. An expanded Blue House Roundabout, in Newcastle, would also lead to a social cost with the disappearance of green space and the loss of a valuable urban amenity.

Three Market Failures: Road accidents, Air Pollution and Climate Change

In 2015, the death per million population rate was still at 27 road deaths for every 1 million Great Britain residents. There were 1,730 reported road deaths in 2015. Motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution in the United Kingdom with a damaging impact on the health of people. Cars are also a major cause of climate change which could more accurately be described as climate disruption. Cars account for 22% of total UK emissions of carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to climate change.

Summary of the Blue House Roundabout Debate

These arguments provide some of the evidence for reducing road traffic in Newcastle and across Britain. If the aim of policy is reduce (1) car accidents, (2) air pollution and (3) climate change then a policy of reducing car usage would be helpful. A policy which attempts to decrease car use would mitigate the three main concerns, to a greater extent, than a reduction in vehicle idling from building a larger roundabout.

An Economic Defence of the Railways

It was argued that the closure of a railway produces a financial gain (see the 'weep Geordie weep' video). However, this does not consider the costs which are likely to occur once the railway closes. The closure of the railway is likely to lead to higher levels of road traffic as people find an alternative method of transport. As stated above, more road traffic can lead to more road accidents and greater levels of air pollution. Car exhausts can also contribute towards climate change. The ‘financial saving’ from the railway closure could be more than offset by the safety costs, the health costs and the environmental costs of additional road use. To argue for the maintenance of the railways: it is possible that keeping railways open, results in a net benefit to the public. Rail travel could lead to fewer car accidents, lower air pollution from cars and less climate disruption. These benefits can outweigh the financial costs of running the railways.

The loss of Green Space at Newcastle's Town Moor

The animation in the video below shows the loss of the green space at the north of Newcastle's Town Moor.

Decision-Making Needs to be Improved in Newcastle

The city council needed to undertake questionnaires or focus groups to learn about public views regarding the Blue House Roundabout. However, this preliminary research was not done and instead a grand plan was announced; with a motorway style junction on Newcastle's town moor. The public outcry to the 'motorway on the moor' was a reaction to the lack of preliminary consultation. The failure to consult properly proved to be expensive for taxpayers in Newcastle. There is more detailed information on the Blue House Roundabout on the High West Jesmond website.

Video: Public Spending Needs to be Better in Newcastle

The suggestion of a massive junction at the Blue House is one example of poor quality decision making in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Weep, Geordie, Weep: At the Murder of your City

A video on the loss of historic buildings, railways and road building in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Newcastle upon Tyne Needs a Blue - Green Flooding Strategy

A video which suggests that fields in Newcastle need to be allowed to flood to protect the city's infrastructure.