To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to reduce delays caused by maintenance work on the trunk road network during the summer months.
All our programmed maintenance work is carefully planned and co-ordinated to minimise delays, using lane rental contracts wherever possible.
Is my hon. Friend aware that those of my constituents who use the M40 and Western avenue have to tolerate extremely long delays caused by major and minor road works? Will he do everything in his power, including using lane rental and other incentives, to ensure that delays are kept to the absolute minimum?
Yes, I certainly will. Contractors must display signs explaining the presence of cones where no work appears to be in progress. My hon. Friend's constituents can help to achieve the objective that both he and I want to achieve. Under the citizens charter, a system exists for cone hotlines, whereby if members of the travelling public see lengths of motorway or road coned off unnecessarily, they have only to telephone 071 276 3000 and a written explanation will be available.
Although there have been some improvements in the way in which road works are undertaken, misleading signs still appear and, despite the Minister's remarks, many motorists will be unable to act in the way that he suggested. The appearance of signs giving misleading information leads to genuine speed limit and other warnings being disregarded. It is the Department's responsibility to ensure that accurate speed limit and other restrictive signs are used and that it is made clear when they no longer apply.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and we are here to help. If the hon. Gentleman's constituents and other members of the travelling public see misleading signs, I hope that they will contact us. I do not understand why the hon. Gentleman imagines that the travelling public do not have access to the telephone system—although not necessarily from their cars. It is important to work on the problems together. It is no use blaming someone else. Let us try to sort out those problems sensibly.