Lancashire Transport Links: Flooding

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

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Photo of Jake Berry Jake Berry Conservative, Rossendale and Darwen 9:30 am, 28th January 2016

What progress has been made on repairing transport links damaged by flooding in Lancashire.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

This Government are determined to help families and businesses in Lancashire, including those in Rossendale and Darwen. The Department for Transport announced on 27 December 2015 that we will be providing £5 million to Lancashire County Council to help it to prioritise what local highway infrastructure must be repaired following the storms.

Photo of Jake Berry Jake Berry Conservative, Rossendale and Darwen

I congratulate the Minister and the Department on their response to the floods. Specifically, will he go away and look at the issue of private vehicular bridges crossing rivers in Rossendale and Darwen? I understand that the householders and businesses are liable for them, but in a couple of places they collapsed causing flooding upstream that has caused millions of pounds of damage. It may be that if we can find some money to help them to repair them, it will be a case of a stitch in time saves nine.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I will certainly look at that, but the basic principle is that we are not in a position to provide assistance for private infrastructure that is not a public right of way.

Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South

I draw the attention of the House to my declarations of interest.

The UK freight sector is absolutely dependent on areas such as Lancashire having good infrastructure. Given that Ministers have come to the House three times in recent memory to say that the storms are unprecedented, they are clearly not unprecedented. What will the Government do to ensure that our national infrastructure, which the freight sector and all of us rely on, has proper resilience and that there are proper plans for rapid repairs where necessary?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Certainly the strategic road network has been particularly resilient despite the storms, and Network Rail has been absolutely valiant in fixing problems, particularly as over the Christmas period it was engaged in a massive investment programme to upgrade the service. We must certainly learn lessons. Network Rail is on standby this week in areas where it suspects there may be problems.

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

Since I have the ability to count, I think I will ask for question 11.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Clearly a man who has had a double espresso this morning, Mr Speaker.