The Government’s road investment strategy has committed £15 billion to deliver 127 schemes over the next five years. Some of these schemes will tackle long-standing congestion and safety problems as well as major capacity enhancements around Manchester. On local roads, a programme of local road schemes with around £1 billion of departmental funding has been announced.
Wilmslow road, which runs through my constituency, is one of the most congested roads in the area, as a result of the large numbers of unregulated buses that pass down it. When does the Secretary of State expect progress to be made to allow the London-style bus franchising powers that Manchester needs?
We will say more about buses later in the Session, and I hope that that will answer some of the hon. Gentleman’s questions, but it is also true that buses need a good road network as well.
The Secretary of State will be aware of the congestion at the Dartford crossing. It has been eased by the free-flow system put in place, but the administration of that system under the Dart Charge scheme is woefully inadequate and has caused misery for my constituents. Will he, as a matter of priority, please address this issue and end this frustration for my local residents?
I certainly understand the frustration felt by my hon. Friend’s constituents. Indeed, the roads Minister has organised a meeting on this subject. This is a major change, however, and many people are saying that they are going through the tunnel and over the bridge a lot quicker. There have, therefore, been improvements, including in journey times, but the frustrations that his constituents face are not acceptable, and we will take them up with the company.
Will the Minister tell us what progress has been made by the Government to ensure the affordability of bus travel for young people, particularly when, after September 2015, young people must attend work-based training or education until their 18th birthday—and bus travel is simply unaffordable now for many such young people?
That is an ingenious way of bringing the hon. Lady’s question into order, Mr Speaker. I absolutely agree with her about the importance of bus travel, and we have seen investment in buses. I am more than happy to discuss in greater detail with the hon. Lady some of her concerns about the accessibility to buses.
As the Secretary of State and the rail Minister will know from visiting Bath before the election—I thank them very much for that—air pollution and congestion are among the biggest issues in the Bath area. What does the Department have in process to invest in local roads, including in the long-awaited A36-A46 link road in my constituency?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his fantastic victory. I met him and the council leaders in his constituency before the election and I know that they had some positive plans for transport. Given that the council has become Conservative controlled as a result of recent elections, I look forward to working with it to see those plans taken forward.
It is important for local authorities to come forward with plans, but they also have to ensure that those plans are right and proper for the city. I will be interested to hear of any plans suggested and I will look at them.