The Department is considering evidence about the strategic road network gathered by Highways England and stakeholders over the past two years, alongside responses to the consultation that took place over the winter. The Department will be announcing the decisions about which new enhancements will be included in the second road investment strategy in 2019.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. On the A417 missing link scheme Swindon to Gloucester, can he confirm that it is the Government’s intention that a preferred route will be announced in the first quarter of next year, followed by the development consent order process, followed hopefully by RIS2 funding, and with an intention to commence in the early 2020s to build this much-needed road where there has been a fatality recently?
This road is both dangerous and highly congested. Highways England has been carrying out a consultation on improving the missing link near the Air Balloon pub, as my hon. Friend will know, and I have recently met him and colleagues. Once the responses have been analysed there will be further consultation ahead of the preferred route announcement. We certainly hope there will be a PRA early in 2019.
I am sure the Minister is aware that road links between Sheffield and Manchester are as bad as between any two major cities in Europe, and I invite him to join me to demonstrate that fact, as one of his predecessors did. Will he confirm that even if construction work will not start in the next funding period, at least design work will start on the promised scheme to link the two cities together?
I can make no such confirmation; the hon. Gentleman knows the structure of RIS2, and we will make the announcement in 2019, but I will be delighted to have further conversations with him about the scheme in question.
I listened very carefully to what the Minister said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds (Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown). The A417 missing link road scheme is important to all Members of Parliament for, and the county of, Gloucestershire, so I welcome what the Minister said and urge him to follow through on his commitments to my hon. Friend, and remind him that we will all be watching and waiting to make sure he follows through on the commitments he has made at the Dispatch Box.
I am always grateful for reminders of the importance of parliamentary accountability, and I take that cue. My right hon. Friend will recall that this is not an inexpensive scheme. We are hoping to bring it to birth, and have given it a very strong commitment and continue to do so, and we are looking for a PRA early in 2019, as I have said.
Haydock island in my constituency is where junction 23 of the M6 meets the East Lancs road and very busy local roads. The system has been reconfigured but still is not working, and my constituents, residents and local businesses are suffering. Will the Minister meet me and local representatives to ensure we can improve it by including it in the next scheme in 2019?
If that scheme has been placed into the RIS2 consultation it will presently be a matter for consultation with officials. I am happy to have a meeting with the hon. Gentleman, but not in any sense that puts the formal process of consultation and deliberation at risk.