In addition to investing £1.7 billion in ’21-22 into local roads, the Department is working towards the creation of a common data standard for the monitoring of the road condition. That will aim to drive innovation and flexibility in monitoring local roads, which will enable local authorities to target defects in their networks more quickly.
First, I thank my hon. Friend for her support and that of the Department in securing the Lytham St Annes M55 link road. After years of fighting for this project I was delighted to see work get under way on Monday. I have, however, been inundated by complaints from constituents regarding the poor quality of many of Fylde’s road surfaces, so can my hon. Friend assure me that the Government are taking the resurfacing of roads seriously and not simply filling in the cracks and covering over potholes?
May I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friend for his determined campaigning over a number of years to secure the start of work on this vital road? I am sure that his constituents will be reaping the benefits in the years to come, but he is right to say that they must be able to drive on roads that are pothole-free. That is why the Government have committed £2.5 billion through the potholes fund. The Department believes that local highway authorities should develop a risk-based approach to asset management plans; that means they need to have a long-term inspection regime and be proactively maintaining those roads to ensure that they are in good condition in the years to come.
The very light rail site in Dudley—of course, Chorley could have one as well, Mr Speaker—will be a world-class innovation centre, developing and testing prototypes, and very light rail is installed on roads with minimal disruption. Does the Minister agree that it could be a game changer for public transport for the UK, and will she join me in congratulating the team on pioneering it in the west midlands?
I am delighted to hear about more pioneering innovations in the west midlands. That does not surprise me at all; I visited the west midlands just last week to see some of its groundbreaking work across a number of travel innovations. Of course, Mr Speaker, the west midlands leads the world—I am afraid it even leads Chorley—in these matters. I strongly congratulate all those involved in the project in Coventry and Dudley. We are always interested in building on these successes and seeing them benefit more areas in the future.