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Road Congestion

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 10 December 2015

The Government are providing £15.2 billion between 2015 and 2021 to invest in our strategic road network. This is the biggest upgrade to our motorways and A roads for a generation, and it is adding capacity and tackling congestion.

I welcome what my right hon. Friend says, but is he aware that there are many ways of reducing congestion that are not anti-motorist? Has he read “Green Light”, a report by Councillor Richard Tracey, which concludes that most traffic lights could be turned off between midnight and 6 am, and that that would reduce both congestion and pollution? Why should a motorist have to sit at a red traffic light when there are no pedestrians in the vicinity, and no vehicles are seeking to use the junction? Will my right hon. Friend persuade local authorities to review their policy on traffic lights, and get them to turn some of them off?

I rather thought that at this time of year people were turning lights on rather than off! I know that my right hon. Friend feels strongly about traffic lights, and I should be more than happy to look at Richard Tracey’s report, but, in the main, this is a matter for local highway authorities. Perhaps my right hon. Friend could exert some influence on those in his constituency.

One of the principal causes of congestion in urban areas is, of course, illegal parking. What is the Secretary of State doing to make the enforcement system simpler and more effective?

That, too, is a matter for local highway authorities, which can employ the necessary measures and regulations.

22. Having visited my constituency a number of times, the Secretary of State will know that the specific and complicated problem of traffic congestion in Bradford on Avon is having a significant impact on business and residents. Can he suggest a way of dealing with it? (902652)

I visited Bradford on Avon with my hon. Friend earlier this year, and I know that she is right about the traffic congestion in the town. I should be more than happy to meet her, along with my hon. Friend the roads Minister, to discuss in detail what we could do to help, but this is, in the main, a matter for Wiltshire council.

The pinch-point scheme at junction 24 of the M60 in Denton has been a great success in tackling congestion. Unfortunately, however, one of its unintended consequences has been the increased motorway noise experienced by nearby residents of Thompson Close. Highways England has promised to introduce noise reduction measures, including new road surfaces, in the next financial year; will the Secretary of State please ensure that that happens early in the next financial year?

I do not know that junction particularly well, but following the hon. Gentleman representations I will certainly look into it and we will write to him about when Highways England will do that work.

19. One of the key campaigns in my constituency to reduce road congestion is for an M4 link to the Avon ring road, which would involve an extra junction, 18A, on the M4. Next year the joint transport study commissioned by the local enterprise partnership and the surrounding councils will look at how to reduce road congestion in the area, and I hope the M4 link will be an integral part of that. Will the Transport Secretary meet the LEP, the local council and me to discuss this? (902649)

I am more than happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this. As I have said, a huge amount of investment is being made available to Highways England. I visited the site with my hon. Friend earlier this year, and it would open up a large area of potential development, which is very important for his constituency.

Over the summer, roads to the channel ports ground to a halt, lorry drivers who were stuck in their cabs needed emergency water to drink, and local businesses were hit as Kent villages near the motorway network were cut off. The Chancellor’s announcement of a new lorry park may be a step in the right direction, but it will not keep the traffic moving of itself and it falls well short of highways management road improvement works that local partners tell me are needed if Kent is going to be protected from similar snarl-ups in future. Does the Secretary of State consider his lorry park “job done”? If not, what else is he going to do before, rather than after, the people of the south-east go through the same thing again?

I do not regard it as “job done” but I regard it as a great step in the right direction to find that level of resources available to solve what was an unacceptable situation for people in Kent last summer. It is definitely a step in the right direction, but I will obviously keep every other option under review.