(2) for what reasons the Highways Agency decided that no member of staff would accompany the hon. Member for Walsall North to a site meeting in his constituency on 20 March in relation to work being undertaken under the authorisation of the Highways Agency;
(3) what mechanisms are used by the Highways Agency for public consultation on work it plans to undertake which is likely to affect households near the site of such work;
(4) if he will make it his policy to direct the Highways Agency to notify each household in an area in which work authorised by the Highways Agency is to be carried out; and if he will make a statement.
[holding answer 20 March 2009]: The Highways Agency already accepts reasonable requests to meet hon. Members either on site or separately on any schemes for which it is responsible.
Representatives from the Highways Agency accompanied the hon. Member for Walsall, North to a site meeting on 20 March to discuss the details of the Active Traffic Management scheme currently being undertaken on the M6 in his constituency.
Where appropriate, the Highways Agency consults those likely to be affected by schemes being undertaken, and this was the case with the scheme on the M6. The Highways Agency has followed all environmental assessment and statutory procedures, including issuing public notices. It has listened to concerns raised, and has taken residents' concerns about current noise levels into consideration. An exhibition is planned where further issues can be raised. The scheme design has also been reviewed in the light of comments received.
Schemes carried out by the Highways Agency on or near highway land vary in complexity and scale. For schemes planned outside of the highway boundary, such as bypass work, the Highways Agency makes every effort to contact individual households and businesses likely to be affected.
Work carried out within the highway boundary tends to be of a relatively smaller scale, or is carried out as part of a routine maintenance programme. Although there is no statutory requirement for local residents to be contacted ahead of schemes taking place within the highway boundary, and it would be impractical and costly for the Highway's Agency to undertake to contact individual households for each one of these schemes, the Highways Agency seeks to ensure that public involvement takes place in a proportionate manner.