Transport is now seen by all the major parties as something that is “vital to the economy”, FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier told the Hub at this week's Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

He said that just four or five years ago, you'd be hard-pressed at any party conference to have roads investment as a given issue, but it's now generally accepted that if you want the economy to work, you must invest in transport infrastructure.

Indeed, transport minister Stephen Hammond (pictured) reiterated the point during the FTA's Transport Hub fringe event that the coalition has already made significant investment in addressing local roads maintenance and improvements, and generally improving infrastructure.

However, it was also debated during the dinner event that the reality was that local councils' budgets were often so stretched, that not all money intended for roads was getting through, so perhaps better ringfencing of funds was necessary.

The Hub was genuinely surprised by how willing Hammond was to listen to and address the many questions fired at him over the dinner table from members of the road haulage, rail and aviation sectors, especially as he had stepped in at the last minute to replace his boss Patrick McLoughlin.

However, as the FTA's de Pencier reminded the Hub, it is still essential that the road transport sector keeps the pressure up on government: "It's very easy for it [roads investment] to be something that is dispensed with within a few years and we end up back where we were probably six or seven years ago with an aging transport infrastructure."