Skip to main content

Shipley Eastern Bypass

Volume 629: debated on Thursday 19 October 2017

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Government have allocated significant resources to West Yorkshire for local transport schemes through the local growth fund, including £781 million over 30 years from local growth funding and “gain share”. In addition, I am pleased to be able to inform him this morning that £2.3 million is being allocated to Bradford Council for improved traffic management systems as part of the £244 million NPIF—national productivity investment fund—funding being announced today. Later this year, we will start consultation on the major route network, which may provide the routes to securing the Shipley eastern bypass that he is concerned about.

I am very grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer and I very much welcome the new bypass fund that he is setting up, appreciating the difficulties that many motorists have in getting around. Does the new fund mean the long wait that local businesses, local residents and I have suffered waiting for a Shipley bypass may soon be at an end?

As I indicated, it is very much my hope that a number of schemes around the country will start to be brought forward for development under this fund. I would be rather surprised if the Shipley eastern bypass is not one of those brought forward as a proposal to the Government early on. As he knows, I will be joining him to see the issues around the Shipley eastern bypass and to see the possible routes shortly, and I have no doubt that he and his colleagues in his constituency will be making strong representations when I visit.

No one begrudges the money for a Shipley bypass—certainly no one in Huddersfield does. What we are angry about in Yorkshire is the fact that this Minister has taken away the money and the promise for a trans-Pennine railway electrification. That is what we will not forgive him for. He must get his act together and invest in the north.

He mentioned Shipley but it is not sufficient simply to animadvert on Shipley. The question ought to relate to the matter.[Interruption.] Which is a bypass, as somebody has observed, very originally and wittily from a sedentary position.

It is worth putting on the record that I have not announced any changes to that programme. There is money for the trans-Pennine modernisation. I am expecting the detailed proposals from Network Rail later this year. However, it is worth saying that we are spending more money on more projects across the north of England than any Government have for decades and decades, including during the 13 years when Labour was in government. It is also worth saying that we have electrified four times as many miles of railway in the north of England alone than Labour did in 13 years in government. So I am not going to take any lessons from Labour Members about commitments to the modernisation of the transport system—in the north or elsewhere.

Many of my constituents would like to visit Shipley on many occasions, but in order to do so that they would have to travel along concrete sections of the A180, which causes great disturbance to residents in Stallingborough and other villages in my constituency. Will the Secretary of State urge Highways England to look favourably on funding improvements to that section of the A180?

I know that Highways England listens carefully to the comments made at Transport questions. My hon. Friend highlights something that is an issue in his area and throughout the country. I am clear that we need to do everything we can to ensure that the technology for future road surfaces delivers both durability and quietness.

Ah, yes! I chaired the South Lakes Pupil Parliament in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency on Friday. The children there spoke of him with great warmth and affection.

That is very kind of you, Mr Speaker; I hope you will indulge me. Just like Shipley, Kendal is a beautiful northern town with severe congestion problems. It is beautiful and thriving despite the fact that it has a prehistoric road network. Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a long-stalled plan for a northern access route that would solve congestion in the town and open up the industrial estates to the north-east of the town? Will he meet me and business leaders to see whether we can move things forward and make that plan happen?

I am always happy to meet the hon. Gentleman. I am not aware of the specific scheme he asked about, but it is precisely for the reasons he outlined that I have set aside money to create the bypass fund for the years ahead. I recognise that in a number of important regional towns too many areas are congested as a result of through traffic. That is particularly true in the Lake district and the major route through Kendal to get to places such as Windermere. I will happily talk to the hon. Gentleman about that.

Wellingborough is very similar to Shipley—one might even argue that the two MPs are rather alike in their views—but one problem that my constituents find in getting to Shipley is that they cannot get through Isham because a bypass has not been built. Is the Secretary of State able to offer some encouragement about the Isham bypass, which would enable my constituents to get to Shipley more easily?

May I first wish my hon. Friend a happy birthday? I am slightly surprised to see him wearing a more muted tie today. Although I cannot give assurances on every individual scheme, it is very much my intention that the bypass fund is there to fill in holes in what was once the strategic network. The network was de-trucked many years ago, leaving congestion problems in many regional towns and on many important regional routes, without an obvious and clear route to secure funding to ease that congestion. In the coming months I will consult colleagues from across the House as to how best we manage the process of getting that fund and those projects going.

As a Yorkshire MP, it is always good to see promises of investment in places such as Shipley. Nevertheless, this summer the Secretary of State said to The Yorkshire Post:

“The success of Northern transport depends on the North”.

Will he explain how, with London getting 10 times as much money for transport investment as Yorkshire and the Humber gets, that is going to happen?

I am afraid some of the figures bandied around by think-tanks in the north are simply inaccurate. We are putting more investment into transport in the north of England than there has been for decades and decades—into the road system and the rail system. We are replacing every single train in the north with either a brand new train or one that has been refurbished as new. It is a long-overdue programme. It did not happen in 13 years under a Labour Government, when there was money aplenty. Even in tighter financial times, we see it as a priority to develop transport in the north, and that is what we are doing.