Parliamentary Questions: 6th-14th May

Parliamentary Questions: 6th-14th May

14th May

Bus Services: Lancashire

Mark Menzies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are being taken to ensure that funding is made available to maintain bus services in rural areas of Lancashire.

Stephen Hammond: The majority of public funding for local bus services is via block grant provided to local authorities in England from the Department for Communities and Local Government. This Department is also devolving around £1.9 million annual Bus Service Operators Grant funding to Lancashire county council relating to the tendered bus services they support, to allow decisions to be taken locally on how that funding should be spent.

 

13th May

Cycling: Northern Ireland

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the cycle to work scheme in Northern Ireland;

(2) what level of uptake there has been for the cycle-to-work scheme in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d)Scotland.

Mr Goodwill: The Department does not retain data on the uptake of the cycle-to-work scheme. Independently of Government, the Cycle to Work Alliance have published reports containing information on take up of the scheme. This is available at:

www.cycletoworkalliance.org.uk/news.html.

 

Driving: Licensing

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many individuals applied to have their licences restored following the voluntary or enforced revocation of a driving licence on medical grounds in the most recent period for which figures are available; what the average timescale was for an application to be decided in that period; and how many requests were outstanding.

Stephen Hammond: The following tables show the number of drivers that have voluntarily surrendered, or had their driving licence refused/revoked on medical grounds, during 2013 and since applied to restore their licence and the average timescale for processing these applications:

Car/Motorcycle driving licences
    Average time taken to process application(calendar days)

Applications to restore a licence following voluntary surrender

3,455

106

Application to restore a licence previously refused

5,446

131

Applications to restore a licence previously revoked

3,580

98

Total

12,481

 

Bus/Lorry driving licences
    Average time taken to process application(calendar days)

Applications to restore a licence following voluntary surrender

103

111

Application to restore a licence previously refused

478

110

Applications to restore a licence previously revoked

1,251

52

Total

1,832

Information is not held about those applications that are still outstanding for drivers that had voluntarily surrendered or had their licence refused/revoked in 2013.

 

Railways

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much from the public purse was spent on rebranding (a) engines and (b) rolling stock used on rail services in (i) Bury St Edmunds, (ii) Suffolk, (iii) the East of England and (d) England and Wales in each of the last five years.

Stephen Hammond: No money from the public purse has been spent in the last five years on rebranding of rolling stock or engines used on rail services in Bury St Edmonds and Suffolk. The Department does not hold this level of disaggregated information for the East of England or for England and Wales.

 

Roads: Hampshire

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been invested in road infrastructure in (a)Portsmouth South constituency and (b) Hampshire in each of the last four years.

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport is responsible for the strategic road network which is managed by the Highways Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. The remaining roads are the responsibility of local highway authorities under the Highways Act 1980.

Highways Agency spending on improving road infrastructure (including smaller schemes and technology improvements) on the strategic road over the last four financial years in Hampshire is as follows:

Financial year Funding (£ million)

2010-11

49.415

2011-12

65.526

2012-13

51.296

2013-14

71.830

 

For more information please click here

 

12th May

Highways Agency

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what civil service restrictions will be removed should the Highways Agency be moved to a GoCO.

Mr Goodwill: The Government intends to turn the Highways Agency (HA) into a government-owned Strategic Highways Company (SHC), as confirmed in the response to consultation published on 30th April. As announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in June 2013, the new company will operate with guaranteed multi-year funding settlements and have the flexibility to move funds between years.

As a company, outside of the civil service but inside the public sector, the SHC will have more autonomy over its internal governance arrangements and delivery processes so that it can respond to business needs more effectively.

The Government is continuing to work through the details of its relationship with the SHC to provide the necessary commercial freedom to boost delivery and improve efficiency, whilst ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.

The rights of existing HA staff will be protected in accordance with TUPE principles.

 

Large Goods Vehicles: Noise

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has undertaken into (a) the safety effectiveness of voice warnings on freight vehicles reversing, (b) the extent of noise pollution arising from such warnings and (c) the potential benefits of introducing visually triggered automatic systems for giving warnings.

Stephen Hammond: The Department has undertaken no recent research on voice warnings on reversing freight vehicles or on the benefits of visually triggered automatic systems.

 

Large Goods Vehicles: Northern Ireland

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of the goods vehicle levy in Northern Ireland.

Mr Goodwill: The levy is supported by a majority of hauliers in Northern Ireland, all of whom pay it alongside their vehicle excise duty. Hauliers from Ireland must also pay before they use roads in Northern Ireland. A typical large HGV from Ireland visiting Northern Ireland twice a day, as would be the case for a round trip, would effectively pay only £1.28 per visit if they had purchased an annual levy. Smaller vehicles pay less, and those under 12 tonnes pay nothing. These represent small amounts compared to the running cost of a UK HGV of £80,000 to £100,000 per year, and much less than the tolls a typical Northern Ireland HGV would face doing a round trip to Dublin at around £8. Parliament has already debated the exempting of some border roads in Northern Ireland, totalling around 7 miles. These exemptions are a practical measure meaning that vehicles entering Northern Ireland for a short distance do not have to pay the levy, and exempting them simplifies enforcement.

 

Roads: Lighting

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has undertaken on the relationship between levels of street lighting and (a) road traffic accidents and (b) injuries to pedestrians.

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency is responsible for lighting on the strategic road network and local authorities for street lighting in their areas. It is for the authorities themselves to decide the level of service they wish their street lighting network to deliver.

No recent research has been undertaken by the Department for Transport on the relationship between levels of street lighting and (a) road traffic accidents

and

(b)injuries to pedestrians. The Department does, however, collect accident data and this will include factors including whether or not the area was in darkness or lit.

In 2006 investigations were carried out by the Highways Agency which concluded road lighting reduced the number of night-time personal accident injuries on the strategic road network by 10% on motorways and dual carriageways, and 12% on single carriageway roads. The Highways Agency has not conducted any specific research on the impact of road lighting on accidents involving pedestrians due to their low numbers on the strategic road network.

Where the Highways Agency has undertaken the switching off of lights at midnight at certain site locations, these were subject to a detailed safety assessment. By selecting sites with a good safety record and where night-time traffic flows are low, the Highways Agency is confident there will be no adverse impact on road safety.

This Government is providing over £4.5 billion from 2010 to 2015 to local highway authorities in England for highways maintenance, including street lighting. If a local highway authority is considering upgrading or improving their street lighting stock, the Department for Transport encourages them to consider the “Invest to Save” Guidance produced by the Association of Directors of Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) which is available from the Institution of Lighting Professionals.

 

Roads: Yorkshire and the Humber

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Highways Agency in maintaining roads in (a) Huddersfield, (b) Kirklees and (c) Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency Business Plan sets out the strategic objectives and the in-year targets to be achieved. It includes a target covering road surface condition. Each Highways Agency region contributes to those targets, including Yorkshire and the North East. The agency’s performance against the targets for the financial year 2013-14 is due to be published in its annual report by summer 2014.

The agency is unable to identify separately the contribution to business plan targets by individual constituency or local authority area.

 

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much central Government has spent on road infrastructure in(a) Huddersfield, (b) Kirklees and (c) Yorkshire in each of the last three years.

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport is responsible for the strategic road network which is managed by the Highways Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin). The remaining roads are the responsibility of local highway authorities under the Highways Act 1980. Highways Agency spending on improving road infrastructure (including smaller schemes and technology improvements) on the strategic road network in the Yorkshire and Humber area in the last three financial years is shown in the following table.

Financial year Funding for Yorkshire and Humber area (£ million)
2011-12 72.413
2012-13 66.658
2013-14 81.982

The Department for Transport also provides funding to local highway authorities through integrated transport and highways maintenance block grants. This funding can be used to improve local roads that they manage, if they so wish. The following table provides this information.

Highways maintenance block
£ million
  Kirklees West Yorkshire Yorkshire and Humberside
March 2011 pothole 1.304 15.776 20.900
2011-12 block 0 27.173 87.562
2012-13 block 0 26.185 84.412
2013-14 block 0 25.511 80.158
2013-14 additional block 1.019 14.620 13.581
2013-14 flood recovery 0.606 12.999 10.356
2014-15 block 0 23.766 75.488
2014-15 additional block 0.548 12.446 7.268
1 Made up of the individual payments to Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.

 

Integrated transport block
£ million
  Kirklees West Yorkshire Yorkshire and Humberside
2011-12 block 0 121.128 147.760
2012-13 block 0 19.318 43.666
2013-14 block 0 19.318 43.666
2014-15 block 0 27.165 61.403
1 Includes top up announced in 2011 autumn statement.

In addition, the Department also provide capital funding for local major schemes, costing over £5 million. The figures for spend on local major road infrastructure in the last three years is shown in the following table.

£ million
Area 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Huddersfield 0 0 0
Kirklees 0 0 0
Yorkshire 7.2 25.6 26.8

Revenue funding for highway maintenance is provided through the Communities and Local Government revenue support grant (RSG). RSG is an un-hypothecated grant provided to local authorities to enable them to carry out their functions, and local authorities can choose to spend this on any services for which they have responsibility, as per local spending priorities.

8th May

Cycling

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve road safety for cyclists.

Mr Goodwill: The Government takes cycle safety very seriously. In this Parliament we have committed £278 million of funding directly for cycling in England; this includes junction safety schemes and traffic free and traffic calmed routes.

We have also made it easier for local authorities to implement 20 mph zones and other highway measures to support cycle safety, and we encourage them to consider these measures on their highway network.

Jesse Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage safer cycling.

Mr Goodwill: In addition to the £278 million of funding directly for cycling in England, we continue to support Bikeability cycle training for children. It provides trainees with skills suited to the road, but also explains the importance of obeying the Highway Code, and sharing the road. Some councils provide free or subsidised training to adults.

From more information please click here.

 

7th May

Roads: Yorkshire and the Humber

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the cost of urgent repairs to roads managed by the Highways Agency in (a) Huddersfield constituency, (b) Kirklees and (c) Yorkshire.

Mr Goodwill: The Highways Agency does not separately identify the cost of urgent repairs on its roads by constituency area. This type of expenditure forms part of a wider contracted service, which includes a number of other general maintenance activities.

 

6th May

Driving: Eyesight

Mr Sutcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of potential loss of trade to independent high street opticians following the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s

Stephen Hammond: In the past, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) dealt with many individual opticians on an ad-hoc basis. Although the individual cost per optician was relatively low, the aggregated spend on the service meant that the contract had to be tendered via the Official Journal of the European Union process. This is in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

As part of the procurement process, the DVLA identified that 2,009 optical practices carried out vision testing services. The new contract means that independent practices are no longer required to carry out on average 20 assessments per year. This equates to around 10 hours of work.

 

Large Goods Vehicles: Speed Limits

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 24 February 2014, Official Report, column 237W, on large goods vehicles: speed limits, what progress has been made on the Government’s further impact assessment of increasing the speed limit for hauliers from 40mph to 50mph.

Stephen Hammond: Ministers are giving careful consideration to any potential impacts of raising the speed limit for HGVs over 7.5t from 40 mph to 50 mph on single carriageway roads and a further impact assessment has been undertaken as part of that process.

I want to make sure careful consideration is given to the evidence of all of the effects of raising the speed limit; on the economy, environment and road safety before a decision is made. I will consider the responses received and evidence presented before publishing a response report and impact assessment on our website.

 

Motor Vehicles

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the responses to the Office of Low Emission Vehicles construction from organisations that called for artificial sound generators to protect pedestrians.

Mr Goodwill: We received a combined response to our call for evidence co-ordinated by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which suggested that all vehicles funded by the plug-in car grant should be required to have a minimum level of noise. As with all responses, we are considering this suggestion carefully as we develop the detailed criteria for our ultra low emission vehicle support package for the period 2015-2020. EU Regulation will require sound level generators on new types of electric and electric hybrid vehicles from 2019.

 

Roads

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the total cost of the feasibility studies for the (a) A303, A30 and A358 corridor, (b) A1 north of Newcastle, (c) A1 Newcastle to Gateshead western bypass,(d) A27 corridor and (e) A47.

Mr Goodwill: The Department has committed to undertake six feasibility studies to identify and fund solutions to tackle some of the most notorious and long-standing road hot spots in the country.

Following a process of engagement, the Department published on 23 April 2014 finalised scope documents for each of the studies. The documents are available on the Department’s website at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/strategic-road-network-the-scope-of-6-feasibility-studies

At present, the total costs for undertaking the feasibility studies are estimated at around £2.5 million.

 

Tractors

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2014, Official Report, column 242W, on tractors, if his Department will issue a response to the consultation on raising speed limits for low-speed tractors from 20mph to 25mph.

Stephen Hammond: Minsters are giving careful consideration to the results of the consultation on raising speed limit for low-speed tractors from 20 mph to 25 mph.

I will consider the responses received and evidence presented before publishing a response report on our website.

For more information please click here

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