To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information is available to him about the equipment held by local authorities to enable them to keep lines of communication open during severe weather.
The Department provides all the vehicles and equipment for the winter maintenance of motorways in England. It has a fleet of 258 purpose-built Foden snowplough-spreader vehicles and 21 Rolba snowblowers. In emergencies these vehicles can be hired by local authorities for use on other roads provided they are not needed on the motorways.Winter maintenance of all-purpose trunk roads is carried out by local highway authorities acting as our agents. They are also responsible for dealing with local roads. The Department does not keep records of all the equipment held by them for these purposes, although a code of practice lays down the standards to be met in maintaining trunk roads in accordance with agency agreements.