Parliamentary Questions: 3rd-17th March

Parliamentary Questions: 3rd-17th March

17th March

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answers of 22 November 2013, Official Report, column 1052W, on road traffic control, and of 11 December 2013, Official Report, column 221W, on roads: repair and maintenance, what the real terms funding for local road maintenance spent but not announced was in (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c)2012 and (d) 2013.

Mr Goodwill: The Department does not hold or publish local authority expenditure figures that can be directly compared to the Highways Maintenance Capital Block Grant Funding which is allocated to local highway authorities.

All expenditure information held by Government is published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), split by categories that do not align with the intended scope of the Highways Maintenance Capital Block Grant Funding. For example, one recorded expenditure line that may be funded by this grant is the improvement of roads, however this grant forms only one of several possible sources of funding for such work. Consequently it is not possible to disaggregate from the information published by DCLG precisely where this funding is spent.

More information on the total capital expenditure of authorities, including details of all transport expenditure lines, can be obtained from the DCLG’s “Local Authority Capital Expenditure, Receipts and Financing” statistical series:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-capital-expenditure-receipts-and-financing.

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13th March

Written Statement

EU Transport Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I will attend the first Transport Council under the Greek presidency (the presidency) taking place in Brussels on Friday 14 March.

The presidency is aiming for a general approach on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing regulation (EC) No. 881/2004—part of the fourth railway package. This is an important piece of legislation that will serve to further enhance the operation of the single European rail area. The UK’s position on the recast regulation is to ensure that it reflects the agreements reached in the general approach texts on the recast railway interoperability and railway safety directives. The European Railway Agency must have the necessary powers to ensure that the framework created by these proposals can operate effectively. All UK interests and objectives are maintained by the presidency’s text. I therefore fully support this proposal and the adoption of a general approach by the Council.

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Written Answers

A31

Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the most recent (a) volume and (b) speed measurements were taken for vehicles on the A31 in or around Four Marks; and what assessment he has made of trends in such measurements in the last three years.

Mr Goodwill: The Department publishes Average Annual Daily Flow (AADF) data for each major road link, for every year. Traffic is counted at two points (links) on the A31, in the vicinity of Four Marks; at Count Point No. 18707 (between its junction with the B3047 and its junction with Barn Lane), and at Count Point No. 46341 (between Barn Lane and its junction with the A32).

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A595

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what total sum was spent on safety improvements on the A595 in each of the last four years; and what schemes have been completed using that funding.

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency has invested a total of £107,026 in safety improvement schemes along the A595 trunk road during the last four years.

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Driving: Licensing

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will raise the age of compulsory driving licence renewals to 80 years to reduce administration costs.

Stephen Hammond: Increasing the driving licence renewal age was proposed as part of the recent review of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

No detailed evaluation has been made about this proposal. Any such decision would not be taken until a full consultation had been carried out and supporting evidence considered.

 

11th March

Parking

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether he plans to bring forward proposals to increase the size of on-street parking bays;

(2) what conclusions he has reached following his consideration of changes to the (a) prescribed size and (b) other regulatory requirements in respect of parking bays; what plans he has to propose revisions to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002; and what his proposed timetable is for such proposals.

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport expects to consult on proposed changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions in the spring, and to bring its successor into force in 2015.

Included are proposals to relax the current prescription for parking bay size and appearance. This will enable traffic authorities to place parking bays that are both of a size appropriate for their intended use, and sympathetic to the surrounding streetscape.

 

Roads: Floods

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Highways Agency has recently considered (a) the vulnerability of motorways and trunk roads to flooding, (b) the potential for better warnings and strategic road clearance to avoid people becoming stranded and (c) plans to support people who become stranded.

Mr Goodwill: The strategic road network has proved to be very resilient during the recent period of unprecedented weather. There have been very few long-term closures of the strategic road network this winter, showing that there is a proportionate level of resilience built into the network.

The Highways Agency operates a flood risk management strategy which sets out the framework for managing risks of flooding on and from the strategic road network. The Highways Agency is also working with the Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey to enhance its existing information on the risks of rising groundwater levels, presence of soluble rocks and surface water flooding.

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10th March

M1

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) for what reason he did not require the work currently being carried out on the M1 motorway between junctions 28 and 32 to be phased in smaller sections so as to reduce congestion and delays; and if he will make a statement;

(2) when he expects junctions 28 to 32 of the M1 motorway in both directions to be devoid of all roadworks and lane closures; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Goodwill: The work that is currently being carried out on the M1 in this location involves new central reserve drainage and concrete barrier in preparation for the planned smart motorway scheme between M1 J28 to J31.

In planning the works, the option of breaking construction into a number of smaller sequential phases was considered, however this would have the impact of prolonging the overall duration of construction and therefore the length of time over which disruption would be experienced.

The current works are planned to continue into the start of construction for the proposed M1 J28 to J31 smart motorways project and M1 J31 to J32 Pinch Point scheme. Subject to completion of the necessary statutory processes, both schemes are planned to complete by spring 2015.

 

Motorways: Speed Limits

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider introducing variable temporary speed limits on stretches of motorway where roadworks are taking place so that such temporary speed limits are not artificially low during times of light traffic use.

 

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency will be considering the impact of introducing variable temporary speed limits on stretches of motorways where road works are taking place as part of an ongoing programme of research and possible trials.

Variable speed limits in road works may be considered appropriate in certain circumstances but we must keep in mind the primary objective of temporary traffic management which is to maximise the safety of road workers as well as the travelling public.

 

6th March

Road Signs and Markings

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish his Department’s review of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport expects to consult on proposed changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions in the spring, and to bring its successor into force in 2015.

 

5th March

Road Signs and Markings

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what data his Department holds on the effectiveness of signage on overhead gantries.

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport, holds various data on the effectiveness of signage on overhead gantries. Such data are used to improve the effectiveness of its signage, of which there are primarily three types: travel information, which better informs road-users in managing/planning journeys; queue protection signage, which has increased safety; and campaign signage which has improved driver behaviour.

 

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an assessment of the potential benefits of displaying signage on overhead gantries reminding drivers about eyesight standards and eyesight testing.

Mr Goodwill: We have no plans to make such an assessment. The purpose of traffic signs is to convey road traffic information to drivers relevant to their journey. Eyesight standards and testing reminders fall outside this purpose.

However, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been exploring options for highlighting the importance of all drivers having a good standard of vision and to have eyesight tests. In addition to the information already available on Gov.uk and in DVLA’s application forms and leaflets, in the last year the DVLA has worked with a number of key stakeholders

 

3rd March

Buses: Tyres

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent representations his Department has made to the EU for reforms to tyre requirements required during MOTs on (a) buses and (b) coaches;

(2) what his policy is on introducing a maximum age on tyres for use on (a) buses and (b) coaches;

(3) how many passenger service (a) coaches and (b) buses have failed an MOT as a result of tyre failures in each of the last 10 years.

 

Stephen Hammond: The Department has not made any representations to the EU for reforms to annual test requirements for tyres fitted to buses or coaches.

The replacement age of vehicle tyres is not legislated for in the United Kingdom or European Union and there is little evidence available on the effects of tyre ageing to support the introduction of a maximum age limit. Appropriate research may help inform decisions on the introduction of a limit and officials are considering whether future studies might be needed.

As an interim measure the Department has published guidance to the bus and coach industry recommending that tyres over 10 years old are not fitted to the front axle of these vehicles.

The Department does not have separate figures of annual test failures for passenger service coaches and buses. However, the following table shows the combined figures for all passenger service vehicles based upon the criteria used by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency who undertake the inspections.

 

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Driving: Licensing

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new drivers were awarded a probationary driving licence in each of the last five years.

Stephen Hammond: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) does not issue probationary driving licences. Provisional licences are issued to those learning to drive and full licences are issued to those who have passed a test of driving competence.

All learner drivers who pass a test of competence to drive fall within the two year probationary period under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995. If they accumulate six penalty points or more during the two year period their full entitlement will be revoked and they will have to pass another driving test.

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Rights of Way

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has spent on schemes for (a) cyclists,(b) bridleways and (c) pedestrians in each of the last five years.

Mr Goodwill: The provision of cycling schemes, bridleways and pedestrian facilities are the responsibility of the relevant local authority. We provide funding through the Integrated Transport block to local authorities to use for small transport improvement schemes, which could include those aimed at pedestrians and cyclists or for bridleways.

In addition the Department has provided funding specifically for cycling; I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 25 February 2014, Official Report, column 329W.

Schemes for pedestrians are included in Links to Schools, Local Sustainable Transport Fund and Community Linking Places Fund. Links to Schools was allocated £12 million, Local Sustainable transport Fund £600 million and the Community Linking Places Fund £15.5 million but it is not possible to disaggregate exactly how much was spent on pedestrians. With regards to bridleways, there is no specific funding from the Department.

 

Road Signs and Markings

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) criteria and (b) guidance his Department has issued to the Highways Agency on the (i) frequency of messaging and (ii) reasons for prioritising messages on overhead gantry signs.

Mr Goodwill: The criteria and guidance the Department for Transport uses to govern the Highways Agency comes from within section 64 of the Road Traffic Act and the traffic signs regulations and general directions. However, neither the Act nor directions prescribe the frequency or reasons for prioritising messages.

Therefore, the agency has developed its own policy for the use of variable signs and signals, agreed with the Department for Transport in December 2011. This policy defines the prioritisation of all messages and the frequency of campaign legends. The frequency with which general traffic management legends are set is dependent on current and future road conditions.

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