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Road Congestion

Volume 554: debated on Thursday 29 November 2012

This Government are committed to accelerating the delivery of roads infrastructure. Spending on the major roads programme to October 2012 was just over £1.9 billion. A £217 million programme of pinch point schemes is being progressed, as is a £3.5 billion programme of 20 major road schemes.

As my hon. Friend knows, the Dartford crossing causes motorists in my constituency a lot of grief, and although it is part of the national road infrastructure the congestion impact is very much local. Will he give me an undertaking that he will do everything he can to tackle the congestion at the Dartford crossing and at junction 31 with the A13 and the M25 so that the jobs and economic growth that can be generated in south Essex will materialise?

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. As she knows, we are already progressing free flow through the Dartford tunnel. We are in discussions with the Highways Agency about the junction that she refers to.

I thank my hon. Friend for his recent announcement about the investment of £1.8 million in the Manadon roundabout, which is on the border of my Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport constituency. Following last week’s flooding in the south-west, train passengers’ journeys to and from London have been very disrupted. Can my hon. Friend make an economic assessment of the impact of that on the Plymouth economy?

Along with many other members of the Government, I offer my deepest sympathy to those who have been affected by the recent flooding. I recognise that it has been extremely disruptive, both for residents and for businesses, but it is too early to undertake an economic assessment. The Government’s main priority at present is restoring services to all those affected by flooding.

I thank my hon. Friend for meeting me to discuss the Woodford lane A5 junction, the scene of many serious accidents which not only add to congestion on the A5 but have resulted in many serious injuries and the loss of a young life in the past year. Does he agree that we need to look seriously at trying to find a solution to make this treacherous junction safer?

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend. He will know that as a result of that meeting I have asked the Highways Agency to conduct a review of the junction’s safety record over the past few years and keep an eye on it over the next six months, and I have agreed to meet him to discuss the matter in the second half of next year.

One way in which congestion could be greatly reduced would be by having a dedicated police service for the highways? Does the Minister agree?

The hon. Gentleman will know that there is already a police service that tackles that—the traffic police—and there are also Highways Agency officers who help with accidents.