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Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1962

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Rule Of The Road


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will initiate an inter-departmental inquiry to consider the long-term advantages and the short-term costs of changing the rule of the road in Britain to driving on the right hand side.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we may expect some form of report to the House on it?

No. I cannot say at the moment, but it was started some considerable time ago.

Road, Chalgrove (Public Inquiry)


asked the Minister of Transport when the public inquiry was held Co consider the proposal to develop a road along the southern boundary of Chalgrove Airfield as an alternative to that section of the Oxford-Watlington road now diverted through Chalgrove village; and if any buildings or fencing had been erected on the airfield in advance of the inquiry, which would have been affected by the proposed line of the new road.

The public inquiry into road closures at Chalgrove Airfield was held by the War Works Commission on 7th February, 1962. Re-fencing of the airfield boundary for safety reasons was begun in June, 1961, and part of this will be affected by the line of the proposed new road. No buildings have been erected on this line.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the erection of this fence, which I understand runs for about 1¼ to 1½ miles and has cost about £3,000 to £3,500, before the inquiry was held has given the impression that the company concerned thought the inquiry was merely a formality and that the necessary permission to close the road would be granted whatever objections were raised? Would my right hon. Friend like to comment on that?

It is not a formality. The fence can be realigned if it is decided to provide a new road inside the existing airfield boundary. There have been instances of dangerous trespassing on to the runways of the airfield and it was for that reason that fencing was necessary.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great part of the airfield is still open to trespassers?

Rochester Way, Woolwich


asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has for redeveloping the Rochester Way in the Borough of Woolwich as dual carriageways; and when he hopes to authorise the commencement of this work.

The London County Council as improvement authority is investigating various ways of improving A.2 between Bexley and Greenwich. Until it has decided what scheme to adopt I cannot say when I am likely to be able to consider it for grant.

Will my right hon. Friend have another look at this matter with the London County Council and see whether he cannot expedite at least the section immediately on either side of the junction of West Mount Road where the trunk road develops into one-way traffic in either direction?

I think that my hon. Friend refers to Woolwich where the A.2 ceases to be a trunk road, and here the L.C.C. is now investigating three possibilities, as I confirmed this morning. First, there is the improvement of the A.2 on its existing alignment which involves the demolition of a large amount of residential property. Secondly, there is the linking of A.2 to Shooter's Hill over open space and the improvement of Shooter's Hill. Thirdly, the L.C.C. is considering the construction of a new road alongside or above the Bexley railway line to the L.C.C. boundary. This is being actively considered at the moment.

Is there any point in continuing to develop the A.2 into a six-line carriageway until someone has made up his mind whether there really is any point in increasing the volume and speed of traffic when the road which joins it is already too narrow? The Minister is developing a six-line carriageway which will run into a bottleneck.

I do not think that is so. There is always the question when a new road is built that it takes traffic quicker and gets somewhere else where traffic conditions are more difficult, but one cannot build roads simultaneously all over the country.

Road Junction, Newcastle


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will erect signs at the junction of Sackville Road and Addycombe Terrace, Newcastle, to show clearly which of these roads is regarded as the major road.

This is primarily a matter for the local authority but I am consulting it and will write to my hon. Friend.

Horsham By-Pass (Roundabout)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the proposed Horsham by-pass road provides for a roundabout at the A.281 crossing of approximately 620 feet in length and 435 feet in breadth; and how many other roundabouts of this size or larger are at present in use in the United Kingdom.

The plans for the bypass submitted to me by the West Sussex County Council, which is the highway authority, provide for such a roundabout.

The line of the by-pass and the land required for its construction were the subject of a public inquiry on 21st March. I cannot yet say whether the county council's plans will be approved.

There is one other roundabout of comparable size already in use; several are projected.

Whilst appreciating that a public inquiry has taken place, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he thinks that the fifteen acres which will be taken up will provide a really modern solution? Will he please press for consideration of a road that will stall be up-to-date in about ten years' time?

The reason why the roundabout is so large is that it is in line with our policy which I stated on 7th June, 1961, of providing

"flyovers in place of roundabouts at major traffic intersections where this is practicable and the volume of traffic justifies the additional cost. Some roundabouts will, however, continue to be built where they offer the most suitable form of junction. In appropriate cases new roundabouts are so designed as to permit conversion to a grade-separated junction should this become necessary later."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th June, 1961; Vol. 641, c. 91.]
That is the reason for what my hon. Friend thinks is excessive use of land.

County Surveyors' Society (Report)


asked the Minister of Transport what reply he has sent to the County Surveyors' Society in regard to the recommendations contained in its report, which has been submitted to him, concerning increasing road traffic and the need for motorways.

As the report was sent to me only two days before it was made public, I have not yet had time to give it the full consideration which it deserves. I shall, however, be pleased to discuss it with representatives of the Society and the County Councils Association in the light of the studies which my Department is already making into future highway needs.

Meanwhile I shall continue to give priority to the large programme of motorways which I have already announced. These will provide very substantial relief to traffic between the large centres of population.

Is the Minister aware that the vice-chairman of the Road Federation has stated that this report discloses a most revealing and disturbing analysis of the Government's shortcomings? Is he also aware that the report itself states that at present 1,700 miles of road are needed? Will he do something quickly about the matter?

These proposals would cost £1,000 million. They have been proposed by surveyors and they mostly relate to what happens between the towns. The great problem and the crunch in future is what happens when the traffic reaches the towns. They ignore that altgoether.