They will generally be carrying out different functions. The community support officer works in close association with the police. In certain circumstances, traffic officers could escort large vehicles or abnormal loads, but so can totally civilian bodies. A variety of groups could do that job. However, when traffic officers carry out such functions, they will take on some of the work that the police now have to do, thereby releasing and liberating them to do other things.
Amendment No. 87, a Liberal Democrat amendment, deals with working in liaison with local authorities. The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said that we were moving into uncharted territory. That is not entirely so. The Highways Agency and local authorities have been co-operating closely for a long time. We cannot talk about improvements to the strategic network entirely in isolation from the local road network, and we never have. Current planning is underpinned not only at the strategic planning level but at the day-to-day working level.
We have created a land use and transport planning system that provides a genuine shift to regional and local accountability and decision making. Regional transport strategies are now an integral part of regional planning guidance, intended to ensure that major investment is properly co-ordinated across transport modes and that it reflects regional and local transport priorities. The Highways Agency works closely with its planning partners, including the local highway authorities, to influence the development of regional transport strategies and achieves an integrated approach to transport investment. Many devices already exist to provide the type of co-operation that the hon. Gentleman wants. We want that to continue, and, when appropriate, traffic officers could work closely with them.