The UK government yesterday (May 22) made the first official step towards a national network of pay-by-the-mile roads when it published the draft Local Transport Bill. In principal, this document grants local councils the power to set-up pilot road charging schemes along busy trunk roads, metropolitan arterial routes and city centre ring roads at their own discretion. In the words of the bill itself, it "reforms the existing legislation relating to local road pricing schemes to ensure that, where local authorities wish to develop local schemes, they have the freedom and flexibility to do so in a way that best meets local needs."These schemes will serve as test environments for the government's national pay-as-you-drive network, the bill explains. They are not expected to be established for another five years though; the national schemes are a further five years behind, and both will be subject to a public consultation period and a parliamentary vote. In the case of the Local Transport Bill, however, the consultation period started yesterday, and ends on September 7. To find out more about the bill, and to have your say on the proposals, visit www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/localtransportbill/.