Road Bottlenecks

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 17th January 2013.

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Photo of Nicola Blackwood Nicola Blackwood Conservative, Oxford West and Abingdon 9:30 am, 17th January 2013

What progress he has made on reducing bottlenecks in the road network.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

In the 2010 spending review, the Government committed £168 million for small schemes on the strategic road network. In the 2011 autumn statement, we introduced a new pinch point fund of

£217 million to address the hot spots on the network. We have committed £188 million of that to deliver 65 schemes so far. In the 2012 autumn statement, that was increased to £317 million for the strategic road network, and a new £170 million pinch point fund was established for local authorities.

Photo of Nicola Blackwood Nicola Blackwood Conservative, Oxford West and Abingdon

I thank the Minister for his answer, but the A34 in my constituency is still plagued by congestion and accidents. That causes daily misery for commuters on a personal level, and it also has a debilitating effect on the local economy. If the work force are stuck in gridlocked traffic, they are simply not being productive. Will the Minister come to Oxford West and Abingdon to meet local community and business leaders to hear their concerns at first hand?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

Like my hon. Friend, I recognise that the A34 is an important, busy and strategic route. We are developing route-based strategies as a key mechanism to inform what is needed on such routes. As she says, the ability to work with the local economic partnership and to look at the benefits to the local economy are key assessment criteria. I look forward to visiting her constituency.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

The House, and the whole country, will agree that one of the ways of reducing bottlenecks on the roads is to get more people on to bikes. When Ministers in the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government consider new road schemes and other major urban developments, why cannot they agree to British Cycling’s request that the impact on cyclists should be considered at the outset of all such schemes, rather than being treated as an add-on later? If that were to happen, we could avoid problems such as those at Bow roundabout and Vauxhall Cross, which have had to be put right later at enormous cost.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I am aware that the hon. Gentleman is a keen cyclist and vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on cycling—

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I am sorry—co-chairman of the group. I look forward to seeing its report, which I am sure will cover a number of those issues. He will be aware that we have committed a local sustainable transport fund of £650 million, and a number of the schemes being developed under that have exactly the cycling element that he is asking for.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

I welcome the Secretary of State’s recent announcement on the improvement of the A160 into Immingham docks. The next part of the network that needs improving to provide access to the Humber bank ports and industrial areas is the A15 between Lincoln and Scunthorpe, which is in urgent need of dualling. Will my hon. Friend agree to meet a delegation of Members from the appropriate constituencies to discuss the matter?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I would be delighted to accept my hon. Friend’s request. I have been meeting a number of Members and groups from their constituencies to discuss the possibility of their qualifying for route-based strategies, and I look forward to talking to him about this matter.