My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for the present state of the roadworks between Trafalgar Square and Oxford Circus.
My Lords, the City of Westminster as the highway authority is responsible for roadworks on the roads concerned.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his helpful and informative reply. However, is he aware that, although the roadworks have now been completed in the Haymarket and in Regent Street, it still takes in a bus between 15 and 25 minutes to travel from Trafalgar Square to Oxford Circus and in a taxi between 14 and 22 minutes, and vice versa? Is he also aware that the pavements in this area are full of potholes? There are 195 cracked paving stones.
My Lords, as I said in my orginal Answer, this is a matter for Westminster City Council. However, noble Lords will be aware that there are major developments at Piccadilly Circus at the moment involving LRT and Westminster City Council and also various commercial developments. These will be continuing for a little longer. In the meantime I am sure that Westminster City Council will do what it can to alleviate the traffic problems.
My Lords, I appreciate the importance of the Question put by the noble Baroness, but is the noble Lord also aware that some of us are concerned with similar problems in the suburbs and in other parts of the country? Can he tell us whether the Street Works Advisory Committee, set up under the recommendations of the Horne Committee Report, is working satisfactorily, or have there been any complaints about it?
My Lords, that is rather a different question. I am aware that the Committee was set up under the recommendations of the Horne Report. but I am not briefed about its present progress. Perhaps I can find out and write to the noble Lord.
My Lords, will my noble friend consider asking whichever council it is, wherever it may he in London, whether more forethought can be given when these roadworks are to take place and notices put up so that a motorist can see them a mile or more before he reaches them? It might make life much easier, because one could then take an alternative route.
My Lords, I am sure that Westminster City Council will read what has been said this afternoon in your Lordships' House. Perhaps it will be able to act on it.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that whichever highway authority is involved, it is in danger of losing the battle? For instance, Jermyn Street, which was previously blocked by parked cars, is now blocked by repairs. Is he also aware that London is in danger of winning the battle with New York and Washington over the number of holes which remain in roads? I hope that these will be repaired.
My Lords, I too hope that the holes will be repaired. As I said earlier, it is a major development at Piccadilly Circus, which obviously is taking time. The Government give ample allowance to local authorities for road repairs.
My Lords, will my noble friend accept that it is now quicker to walk from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus? In that context will he please congratulate British Airways on its excellent Christmas lights?
My Lords, yes, certainly.
My Lords, having regard to the number of potholes, can my noble friend say whether the road authority is legally liable for damage to vehicles caused by them?
My Lords, I am afraid I do not know the answer to that. I shall have to write to my noble friend.
My Lords, is the Minister aware of the deteriorating standard of pavement maintenance? When pavements are repaired the paving stones are often badly fitted. Is he further aware that I was all but thrown forward from my wheelchair when I hit one of these ill-fitting paving stones not long ago?
My Lords, I am sorry to hear the experience of the noble Viscount but this is very much a matter for local councils, not for the Government.