Skip to main content

Road Infrastructure Funding

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 5 March 2019

At the Budget, I announced an extra £420 million for road maintenance, including potholes, and £150 million to ease congestion on local roads. I also announced that, from 2020, all road tax will be invested back into our road network via a national roads fund, which will involve £28.8 billion between 2020 and 2025, including a record £25.3 billion for our strategic roads. That is part of our plan to upgrade our infrastructure so that it is fit for the future and another element of our overall public investment, which is set to reach the highest sustained level for 40 years.

I am grateful for that answer and for the continued investment in our roads, but does my right hon. Friend understand the frustration felt by my constituents, who have seen their area transformed by massive housing developments, but have not seen improvements to the local road infrastructure, particularly the A249 and the M2, to serve the new homes?

We are making good progress on improving junction 5 of the M2 and the A249 Stockbury roundabout, reducing journey times, making journeys safer and supporting future housing and employment growth. All that is in addition to recent investments from the local growth fund in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, including the opening of a new roundabout on the A2500 in December 2018, following a £1.26 million investment, and £2.5 million for the regeneration of Sittingbourne town centre.

Funding for road infrastructure is very important, but I wonder whether the Chancellor thinks it should sit alongside investment in more active travel—walking and cycling.

Both. Of course we want to encourage active travel—cycling and walking—particularly in cities where that is the most appropriate response to dealing with the twin challenges of congestion and air quality. Sheffield has benefited from funding that will allow it to enhance the offer to walkers and cyclists.

Over the last decade, we have seen a 25% increase in the number of enterprises in the fantastic county of Essex. That is despite our crumbling infrastructure and our roads. May I make an urgent plea to the Chancellor to support and invest in the two economic arteries that go through the heart of Essex and the Witham constituency—the A12 and the A120?

This is probably not the first time that my right hon. Friend has asked me about those two roads. She is a formidable champion of the transport infrastructure that runs through her constituency; I congratulate her on that. As I have just announced, we have made a commitment to hypothecate all road tax to the national roads fund. That will make a record amount of funding available for road projects in the next period.

Road traffic accidents are a major cause of acquired brain injury, so I urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider setting up a special fund, in proportion to the amount that he is talking about for road infrastructure—and announce it next week, if he is still going to do his statement next Wednesday—to make sure that there is a fund available to people in the national health service who are developing very innovative ways of rehabilitating people who have had road traffic accidents. If he does not understand, he can ask his hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, who is very good on that.

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that I will be making a spring statement next week and remind him and the House that it is not a fiscal event under the new Budget architecture. We have put very significant additional funding into the national health service. I note the point he makes about acquired brain injury and the research that is happening on that. I will draw the Health Secretary’s attention to his comments.

The Chancellor has rightly made great play of the fact that we need to improve our productivity in this country. One of the biggest drags on productivity in my part of the world is clogged-up roads, and my part of West Yorkshire is one of the most congested parts of the UK. So will the Chancellor use money from either his productivity fund or his road-building fund to ensure that there is enough money in the kitty to progress the long-awaited, much-needed Shipley eastern bypass?

As my hon. Friend will know, we have funded a study into the Shipley bypass. It is absolutely right that, often, the highest-value road investments can be relatively modest local schemes that relieve pressure and allow town regeneration, the release of housing land and the more efficient operation of local industry. We will have a record-sized fund available through the hypothecation of vehicle excise duty.

The Member for Shipley will not stop going on about it until he gets it; I think of that we can be absolutely certain.