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Dismissed Roadmen, Cambridgeshire

Volume 438: debated on Monday 9 June 1947

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35.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the Cambridgeshire County Council have dismissed 30 roadmen arising out of the reduction of expenditure on Class III roads that are in need of immediate repair, owing to damage caused by the severe winter and floods and are in a dangerous condition to the users of these roads; and if he will reconsider the matter, with a view of granting to the local authorities money from the Road Fund to keep these country roads in a decent condition.

I understand that a number of men engaged on the maintenance of Class III roads in Cambridgeshire have been dismissed. The council have since been informed that the amount of grant from the Road Fund for the normal maintenance of classified roads will be increased by £8,500, which, if they so desire, may be allocated entirely to Class III roads. In accordance with the arrangements outlined in my reply to the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) on 19th May, my divisional road engineer is also discussing with the council how much additional money can be made available towards the cost of repairing damage to roads caused by frost, snow and flood.

Is the Minister aware that these roadmen have given very valuable service to the county council, and does he think it fair that councils should be compelled to dismiss hundreds of roadmen throughout the country owing to these drastic cuts in expenditure; and, further, is he aware that the motorists, through the Road Fund, provide the money for the upkeep of the roads? Will he look into the matter again, because it is certainly a serious one so far as agriculture is concerned?

I would like to remind my hon. Friend that the additional grant for Class III roads was only introduced last year, which is very recent indeed. I do not think that it can be argued that these dismissals are entirely due to that.

Will the Minister consider making additional grants to other county councils who are being compelled, owing to the drastic cuts, to reduce their staffs?

I have already indicated that the discussions taking place between my divisional road engineers and county surveyors are not limited to any particular county.

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that one of the greatest causes of hardship is that these drastic cuts were made after the start of the financial year?

I regret that it was not possible to give longer notice, but, after all, the discussions with regard to estimates cover a fairly long period.