My hon. Friend is a great campaigner on this issue. He will be aware that the Department is spending more than £6.6 billion to improve local roads through local highway authority work, including £420 million most recently, much of which is available to be spent in his constituency.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He knows, because I have lobbied him relentlessly, that we are bidding for funding from the second road investment strategy for the A120 in my constituency, but there are other roads in my constituency, including the A131 and a number of local roads. I welcome the announcement of the money. What advice can he give me on how to ensure that I grab some of it for my lovely constituency?
I am not sure that “relentless” begins to describe the energy and vigour with which my hon. Friend pursues his campaign. As he recognises, we have already provided £4 million to Essex County Council for the A120. I understand that the council is currently undertaking a series of phased improvements to both the A131 and the A130, to enhance network capacity, but we remain interested in whatever it does on those roads in future.
I am sure the Minister is aware that, because of other pressures, councils are increasingly unable to address priorities that they would have addressed many years ago. The National Audit Office has shown that spending on road safety and traffic management across the country has fallen by 60% since 2010. Will the Minister accept that one of the most important things he can do is argue for increased funding from the Treasury for local authorities in the next spending round?
I certainly accept that one of the most valuable things we can do is argue for increased funding for local roads in the next settlement, and as the hon. Gentleman will know, we plan to do so.
If HS2 is built, the inevitable heavy traffic will add to the damage to our roads in Buckinghamshire, many of which are already congested and suffer from pollution, including popular routes such as the A413. What additional funds will the Minister make available to Buckinghamshire County Council to repair the inevitable extra damage to our rural roads, so that the cost does not fall disproportionately on Buckinghamshire taxpayers?
I am not sure I recognise that problem, but my right hon. Friend is welcome to write to me. There is every reason to think that HS2 might in fact relieve some of the traffic, because people will be making journeys that are not merely local.
It is hard for me to comment on whether the council has any excuse, since I do not know the circumstances it is under. All I can say is that it has a share in £420 million more than was expected at the end of last year.