I thank my hon. Friend for raising the very important issue of HGV traffic on rural roads, which has all kinds of negative effects, including congestion, air quality and noise. She will be aware that local authorities are best placed to address the issue. They have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to make traffic regulation orders that prohibit the use of HGVs on any given local road.
I thank the Minister for that answer, but will he look at introducing mandatory commercial sat-navs to all HGVs, so they avoid using rural roads and stick to the A roads they should be on? That would also help with the enforcement of existing restrictions in villages such as Ditchling in my constituency.
I understand the problem. Some existing sat-navs are configured specifically for HGVs. Mandating them would be a major step that would undoubtedly have negative as well as positive consequences. This is primarily and mainly a market function, but protections are in place for local authorities to enforce against abuse of roads by HGVs.
HGV traffic can be dangerous, and the road safety charity Brake says that school crossing patrols are vital, so does the Minister have an estimate of the number of lollipop women and men who have been cut and whether or not that has led to an increase in accidents for children walking to school?
The hon. Gentleman is of course absolutely right about the concerns of children walking to school, which was a major theme in our recent work on cycling and walking safety. Part of the work that we are doing over the next two years precisely addresses areas around schools.
There is an important industrial estate in my constituency called the Leyland, which is served from urban Wellingborough. Unfortunately, the road bridge has been demolished and HGVs are now having to travel on rural roads. I understand that instead of the bridge being replaced, it is going to be left down, and that is causing a great deal of concern. Will the Minister be able to look into the matter and perhaps meet me to discuss it?
The A637 runs through the lovely village of Flockton in my constituency. It is a narrow road and is increasingly used by rat runners and HGVs, despite a prohibition order. There have been many instances of reckless driving and some near misses. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can make life safer for the people who live in Flockton?
If it is a purely local road, I am of course happy to look into the matter but it really falls to the local authority. If there is scope for the road to be part of the major roads network, which, as the hon. Lady will know, is precisely designed to relieve some of the pressures on local communities and the strategic road network, we can have that conversation as well.