No assessment has been made of the merits of establishing a road collision investigation unit, as there are well-established collision investigation units in the police service, and effective ways of reporting conclusions and outcomes. The Department does, however, directly fund a programme of detailed investigation under the road accident in-depth study, in conjunction with police forces, coroners and several hospitals.
The Minister knows of the interest that I take in this matter, as chair of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety and the international council for road safety research. There is no doubt that we need an investigation unit to deal with sea, air and rail transport. All the transport safety interests across the board are in favour of the establishment of such a unit. We do not think that it would be costly, and it would be effective. Will the Minister think again?
I am aware of the hon. Gentleman’s long-established campaigning interest in road safety, and I would just refer back to the earlier answer: we have well-established collision investigation units within the police service, so I see no point in duplication.
Collisions have a range of causes, but one of them is undoubtedly the poor condition of our local roads. The Minister will be aware of the ALARM—annual local authority road maintenance—survey published this week showing that one in six local roads will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time, and that the number of potholes filled per authority fell by 19% last year. I anticipate that he will tell me how just much money is being poured into those potholes, but does he accept that short-term fixes are no substitute for proper resurfacing, which for most roads currently happens just once every 55 years?
The condition of the local roads is the responsibility of the local highways authorities, and we are very keen to support them in their work. I fully recognise that there is a backlog and have seen various projections of how much that might cost to fill, which is why we have allocated a record amount of money to support local highways authorities. The sum stands at over £6 billion during this Parliament, including £250 million specifically to help fix potholes.