Local Roads

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham 9:30 am, 28th January 2016

What recent assessment he has made of the condition of local roads.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government fully understand how important it is to have a reliable quality road network, which is why we are providing a record £6 billion for local highways maintenance. We have also created the pothole action fund with a budget of £250 million dedicated to delivering better journeys.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer. I am pleased that he has agreed to come to Shrewsbury soon to look at some congestion problems in the town. May I draw his attention to the state of the roads in rural counties where there are huge numbers of potholes, a lack of pavements and significant problems? We really need more investment for those roads in rural counties.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am looking forward to visiting my hon. Friend’s constituency on 27 May. I agree that more money is required, which is why the Government have increased the budget. Within the two initiatives that I have just highlighted, may I include the fact that we are also incentivising part of the maintenance fund so that efficient and organised councils are rewarded? That will encourage local councils to improve the maintenance regime on their highways. I urge him to work with his council so that it can benefit from that scheme to the maximum.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

From this year until 2021, both the A1 and the A19 will be undergoing extensive roadworks. Although that investment is welcome, the current plans show that both roads will be upgraded at the same time, which will create total chaos on our region’s road network and bring the north-east to a total standstill. I have already written to the Secretary of State about this, and he is clearly not interested. Will he show some interest from today?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

We are investing significantly in our road network. We have the Government’s first road investment strategy, with a significant overall pot of £15.2 billion. It is phased to deliver maximum benefit across our country. Of course Highways England plans such things effectively, and then works with local partners to ensure that there is minimum disruption. We should welcome the investment, as I certainly do.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

The Institute of Advanced Motorists has praised Dorset County Council for focusing on long-term road repairs. Will the Minister join me in praising the council for using its scarce resources wisely, and ensure that vital funding continues to enable Dorset to maintain the standards of its roads?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I will indeed join my hon. Friend in praising Dorset County Council. It is great to hear that its long-term approach is paying dividends. It is that approach that we want to see across the whole network. I will write to Dorset County Council to highlight the views of this House, to pass on our congratulations, and to confirm his main point that budgets will be increasing.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Equality)

Last year, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development paid £4.5 million in compensation for the damage done to vehicles by potholes. The Government allocated extra moneys to Northern Ireland to help with that problem. Will the Minister agree to allocate the same amount of money to Northern Ireland this year?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I will certainly look into that matter, and write to the hon. Gentleman with an answer.