Clause 1 - Road safety grants

Part of Road Safety Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 21st March 2006.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee 11:15 am, 21st March 2006

I rise to ask the Minister a question and to place on record an expression of hope. First, the question relates to the scope of the grants. Could a road safety grant ever be given to remove a road completely? If someone has an idea that a road should be closed to traffic and turned over completely to pedestrians, could one of these grants ever be used for that purpose?

Secondly, I hope that if the Bill completes its passage and the system is up and running, the Department will not take a one-size-fits-all view of grants under the clause, because local needs and the environment of the area must also be taken into consideration.

Perhaps I may give the Minister an example in a related area. I am well aware that Departments generally try to encourage local authorities to consider ways of promoting public transport use and to discourage unnecessary car journeys. There is nothing   wrong with that. In cities such as Nottingham or maybe Derby, or in inner-city London, it makes sense to support the local authority if it wants to introduce a park-and-ride scheme. One way to encourage motorists to use park-and-ride schemes is to make them pay for inner-city parking, while the parking for the park-and-ride is free or very low-cost, so there is an incentive to use it.

My local authority, the East Riding of Yorkshire council, has recently been put under considerable pressure to introduce car-parking charges in Bridlington. In this case, which I give as an example, there has been no consideration of the needs of an English seaside town. We should encourage people to take holidays in the UK and to visit our seaside towns. I say to the Minister with the greatest respect that we will not encourage a young couple with children to go to the seaside, park their car and then, with little Johnny, their suitcases and their buckets and spades, use a park-and-ride scheme. My local authority has been put under pressure by the Department to abolish free parking in the town of Bridlington, and that is a mistake. It will affect the local economy, because a seaside town is different from an inner-city area in the middle of the country. I therefore hope that when we are considering grants under this provision, the Department will take into account local need, which it has not done in that example.