PQs 13th – 17th June 2011

Transport: Disadvantaged
Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans his Department has to promote social inclusion through transport. [58865]
Norman Baker: Good transport is crucial to people’s quality of life. The Department for Transport (DfT) actively promotes measures to enhance social inclusion by enabling disadvantaged people to connect with employment opportunities, key services, social networks and goods.
DfT initiatives contributing to reducing social exclusion include:
Providing free, off-peak bus travel for elderly and disabled people in England.
Reducing crime and the fear of crime wherever it occurs in the transport system.
Continuing to build on the progress that has already been made following the introduction of accessibility regulations for trains, buses and coaches under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).
Helping disabled and older drivers to continue to use their car as a means of accessing the services they require.
PACTS comments: Transport plays a vital role in social inclusion, and this issue is an important aspect of PACTS’ current research project ‘Safer Mobility for an Ageing Population’. PACTS would emphasise that quality of life and social inclusion goes further than simply the accessing of required services. The enjoyment of driving or riding a bus or walking is also important, as is the feeling of independence and control. 
The perception that public transport is not safe often stems from personal security fears. It is excellent that the Department for Transport recognises that reducing crime is important when promoting social inclusion through transport, and it would be interesting to hear more about how it is tackling the fear of crime, as well as crime itself. 
Public Transport
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for the future frequency and availability of public transport on (a) Sundays and (b) public holidays. [55313]
Norman Baker: On the railways, £220 million has been allocated for Control Period 4 (2009-14) for the seven day railway initiative to reduce disruption for passengers and freight users arising from engineering work at weekends and public holidays.
As regards buses, the majority of services outside London are provided on a commercial basis. Provision on Sundays and public holidays is a matter for each operator’s commercial judgment. Where needs are not being met by these services, it is for each local authority to assess whether they should subsidise provision. Within London, bus services are a matter for Transport for London.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which official visits undertaken by his immediate predecessor involved the use of public transport. [55314]
 
Norman Baker: The Government are not accountable for the actions or decisions of their predecessor.
Road Traffic Act 1988
Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects his Department’s working party on potential changes to section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to complete its report. [59375]
Mike Penning: We are setting up a working group to review Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and expect to complete the assessment by the end of this year.
Roads: Repairs and Maintenance
 
Karl McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the merits of introducing incentives for local authorities to improve long-term (a) road safety and (b) value for money in repairs to roads damaged by potholes. [53065]
Norman Baker [holding answer 28 April 2011]: Local authorities have statutory duties related to road safety and highways maintenance under the Highways Act 1980, details of which can be found at:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/contents
These authorities have their own democratic mandate, and local people are able to hold them to account if they do not deliver, which gives them strong incentives to improve their value for money, efficiency and quality of their services.
The Government’s approach to local highway services is to encourage better local decision making and accountability, including through decentralising funding, removing “top-down” performance frameworks and supporting the provision of better public information.
The Department for Transport recently launched the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme, backed with £6 million of government funding, to help local authorities make their road maintenance programmes as efficient and effective as possible.
Cycling: Training
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding for Bikeability cycle training his Department (a) provided in 2010-11 and (b) has made budgetary provision for in (i) 2011-12, (ii) 2012-13, (iii) 2013-14 and (iv) 2014-15. [59703]
Norman Baker: In 2010-11 the Department for Transport made available £11 million in grant funding to local authorities and School Sports Partnerships to deliver level 2 Bikeability cycle training to children. For 2011-12 £11 million has been made available. The Government will continue to support Bikeability in 2012-13 to 2014-15. Total grant allocations for those years will be announced in due course.
Motorways: Accidents
 
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason over 14 miles of the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway was closed on 26 May 2011; what his policy is on the closure of motorways as a last resort after accidents; and if he will consider issuing guidance to highway authorities in this respect. [59461]
 
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency is the highway authority for motorways in England including the M1. It was closed by the police between Junction 16 and Junction 17 at 14:10 hours on 26 May due to a multiple vehicle collision which involved a fatality.
The Traffic Management Act 2004 and National and Incident Management Guidance Frameworks set out the policy framework and principles under which the Highways Agency, in partnership with the police, manage incidents on motorways. These frameworks direct those responsible to conduct their incident management activities in ways that prevent the unnecessary closure of roads following an incident. Roads are only closed when critical infrastructure repairs cannot be performed while part of the carriageway remains open and/or when an incident has resulted in serious injury or a fatality where the police have a duty to conduct a thorough investigation in accordance with their Road Death Investigation manual.
On 19 May 2011, Official Report, columns 39-40WS, I announced that the Department for Transport has completed a review into what improvements could be made to achieve the shortest timeline possible for managing incidents where a motorway closure is required. The review makes 10 recommendations, the delivery of which will ensure that there is overall improvement in the time taken to reopen motorways following an incident, reducing the economic impact of closures and minimising the delay experienced by road users. Local highway authorities will also be able to adopt the good practice identified in the review.
 
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway was closed near Watford Gap on 26 May 2011; on whose authority the road was closed; and what steps were taken to reduce inconvenience to motorists as a result of the closure. [59462]
Mike Penning: The M1 motorway was closed between Junction 16 and Junction 17 at 2.10 pm hours on 26 May due to a multiple vehicle collision. The incident resulted in a fatality which meant it was led by Northamptonshire police who had to perform an investigation in accordance with their Road Death Investigation Manual. This required the northbound carriageway to be sterile of traffic so the police closed the motorway.
Steps taken to reduce the inconvenience to the motorist were to use agreed emergency diversion routes and to turn around traffic that had been caught between Watford Gap and the incident. Variable Message signs were set to warn of the closure and local media were informed of the closure and diversion routes.
 
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the A1(M) was closed north of its junction with the A1000 on 26 May 2011; on whose authority the road was closed; and what guidance he has issued to highway authorities on (a) steps to minimise delays from such incidents to road users and (b) closure of a road only as a last resort. [59463]
Mike Penning: The A1(M) north of its junction with the A1000 was not fully closed on 26 May. Lanes 2 and 3 were blocked due to an incident where a car collided with the central reservation. The police were the first in attendance and set out the lane closures which were then backed up by the Highways Agency traffic officers when they arrived on scene.
(a) On 19 May 2011, Official Report, columns 39-40WS, I announced that the Department for Transport has completed a review into what improvements could be made to achieve the shortest timeline possible or managing incidents where a motorway closure is required. The review makes 10 recommendations, the delivery of which will ensure that there is overall improvement in the time taken to re-open motorways following an incident, reducing the economic impact of closures and minimising the delay experienced by road users. Local highway authorities will also be able to adopt the good practice identified in the review.
(b) The Traffic Management Act 2004 and National and Incident Management Guidance Frameworks set out the policy framework and principles under which the Highways Agency, in partnership with the police, manage incidents on motorways. These frameworks direct those responsible to conduct their incident management activities in ways that prevent the unnecessary closure of roads following an incident. Roads are only closed when critical infrastructure repairs cannot be performed while part of the carriageway remains open and/or when an incident has resulted in serious injury or a fatality where the police have a duty to conduct a thorough investigation in accordance with their Road Death Investigation manual.
Rail Delivery Group
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the name is of each (a) member of and (b) organisations represented on the Rail Delivery Group. [58588]
 
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 13 June 2011]: The Rail Delivery Group is an independent industry body made up of the most senior figures in the rail industry—including the chief executives of the passenger and freight train operating owning groups and Network Rail. It will be chaired by Tim O’Toole, the chief executive of FirstGroup. A press release announcing the formation of the Group can be found on the Network Rail website.
Decisions on the remit and composition of the Group are for industry determination, but we support all efforts by the industry to deliver improved efficiency and value for money, responding to Sir Roy McNulty’s report on value for money in the Rail Industry.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2010, Official Report, column 517W, on railways, when he plans to announce the members of the high level working group to examine options for structural reform in the rail industry; and what representations he has received on membership of that group. [58589]
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 13 June 2011]: An announcement concerning the membership of the group will be made in due course. The Department for Transport has received representations from a number of groups and individuals regarding the group’s composition. The Department’s business plan commits it to making a statement on the future of the railway in November.
Road Traffic Act 1988
Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings his Department’s working party on potential changes to section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 has held in each year since 2006. [59374]
 
Mike Penning: The Department for Transport did not convene a working party about potential changes to section 172 of the Road Safety Act, although it is in the process of assembling a group.
Previously an internal police group looked at the prosecution issues associated with the use of the section 172. It was necessary for the police to review how they operated and to consider any issues they wished to communicate to the Government.
Roads: Police
 
Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has issued on the role of the police in traffic management in urban areas. [59258]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has issued DfT Circular 1/07 “Use of Speed and Red-Light Cameras for Traffic Enforcement: Guidance on Deployment, Visibility and Signing”. This guidance is relevant to the police, among others.
However, in general the Department does not influence policing through guidance or otherwise. The role of the police in the management of urban areas is a local matter for the relevant police force and local authorities. Information on how to interpret the law is provided by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
 
Rail Delivery Group
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the name is of each (a) member of and (b) organisations represented on the Rail Delivery Group. [58588]
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 13 June 2011]: The Rail Delivery Group is an independent industry body made up of the most senior figures in the rail industry—including the chief executives of the passenger and freight train operating owning groups and Network Rail. It will be chaired by Tim O’Toole, the chief executive of FirstGroup. A press release announcing the formation of the Group can be found on the Network Rail website.
Decisions on the remit and composition of the Group are for industry determination, but we support all efforts by the industry to deliver improved efficiency and value for money, responding to Sir Roy McNulty’s report on value for money in the Rail Industry.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2010, Official Report, column 517W, on railways, when he plans to announce the members of the high level working group to examine options for structural reform in the rail industry; and what representations he has received on membership of that group. [58589]
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 13 June 2011]: An announcement concerning the membership of the group will be made in due course. The Department for Transport has received representations from a number of groups and individuals regarding the group’s composition. The Department’s business plan commits it to making a statement on the future of the railway in November.
Cycling England
 
Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans he has to ensure that the work formerly carried out by Cycling England; [58863]
15 Jun 2011 : Column 833W
(2) what plans he has to support cycling in large urban areas outside London. [58866]
Norman Baker: The Government are strongly committed to cycling, as was made clear in the coalition agreement.
We see the encouragement of cycling and walking, along with improvements to public transport, as key to cutting carbon emissions and enhancing the quality of our urban areas.
As announced in the Public Bodies Review, Cycling England ceased to exist after 31 March 2011.
In January this year we published our White Paper on Local Transport: “Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon—Making Sustainable Local Transport Happen”. Chapter 5 of the White Paper sets out what we are doing, and what local authorities can do, to support cycling.
At the same time I announced the £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund, available to transport authorities outside London, large or small, rural or urban. Transport authorities themselves, working together with the communities they serve, have determined their own transport priorities in bidding to the Fund. The Department for Transport is currently assessing bids to the first tranche of the Fund, and I will be making announcements as planned later this summer. Many of the bids feature proposals featuring cycling.
British Transport Police: Manpower
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of (a) police officers and (b) staff in the British Transport Police in (i) 2010, (ii) 2011, (iii) 2012, (iv) 2013 and (v) 2014. [60246]
 
Mrs Villiers: Responsibility for setting staff numbers and budgets for the British Transport police rests with the British Transport police authority.
The figures for 2009-10 to 2011-12 are shown as follows.

BTP—staff numbers
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

Police officers

2,901

2,896

2,834

PCSOs

340

316

328

Police staff

1,431

1,417

1,440

Total

4,672

4,629

4,602

The headcount figures beyond that date are not known as the budgets have not yet been agreed.
Roads: Repairs and Maintenance
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has spent on resurfacing A-roads in the last five years. [55329]
Norman Baker: For the roads which are the responsibility of the Highways Agency, the agency’s annual accounts over the past five years has reported the following in terms of expenditure on maintenance.

£ million

2009-10

1,307

2008-09

914

2007-08

878

2006-07

850

2005-06

852

Expenditure figures have been adjusted to account for spend relating to roads trunked or detrunked in the financial year.
The expenditure figures provided are for maintenance on the strategic road network managed and maintained by the Highways Agency. This includes renewal of the road surface and repairs to structures, as well as routine maintenance such as gully clearing, white lining, cleaning and winter maintenance, but not those associated with private finance initiative contracts.
To disaggregate the cost of A-roads for the Highways Agency can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The Department for Transport also provides capital funding for highways maintenance to local highway authorities and it is for each individual highway authority to decide how to allocate this money, including resurfacing of A-roads for which they are responsible.
Figures detailing how much has been spent by local authorities specifically on resurfacing of A-roads are not held centrally. Information on overall expenditure for structural maintenance on A-roads by local authorities is routinely published on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at the following weblinks:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localregional/localgovernmentfinance/statistics/revenueexpenditure/revenue200910/localauthoritydata/
http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/capitallocaldata200910
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