Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


ANNEX B

COMMENTS ON A NEW DEAL FOR TRUNK ROADS IN ENGLAND

CHAPTER 1: A NEW DEAL FOR TRUNK ROADS IN ENGLAND

Section 1.1

  I. We agree with the stated aim of having a system that meets the needs of people and business at an affordable cost, and that produces better places in which to live and work.

Section 1.4

  II. The criterion of "supporting sustainable economic activity in appropriate locations and getting good value for money" is one that we would very much support (see also paragraph 5 above for the crucial importance of both location and accessibility to business).

CHAPTER 2: TRUNK ROADS IN AN INTEGRATED TRANSPORT SYSTEM

Sections 2.2 and 2.3

  III. For Trunk road planning we would urge the conferences of local authorities to make fullest use of appropriate business expertise in their deliberations. The same applies to regional planning conferences.

Section 2.5

  IV. As to improving Access to everyday facilities, there could be a conflict between any introduction of congestion charging and the desire for thriving local facilities and shops in town centres. Notwithstanding that some studies have shown a potential for improved business in pedestrianised areas (e.g. "Cities, towns strive to preserve centres", Alan Pike, FT Survey, FT, 21 May 1998, page 1) we would not want any great zeal for green transport policies to ultimately lead to closed businesses and negative net effect on local economies.

Section 2.7

  V. Park and ride schemes are not necessarily the perfect solution that some may believe. For instance, there may be greater risk of theft or criminal damage to vehicles left at such locations, and also there could be a displacement, rather than diminution, of congestion—from urban centres to suburban areas.

CHAPTER 5: SUPPORTING THE ECONOMY

Section 5.2

  VI. The work of Regional Development Agencies could be undermined if widely varying local transport policies were to be adopted, making for a patchquilt of administrative and practical difficulties from one local authority area to another (see also paragraph 14 above).

  VII. We note that nearly all local authorities who responded to DETR's 1997 consultation document were "unwilling to take individual radical action because it could put their area at a competitive disadvantage" (paragraph 65 of the separate document, The Government's Consultation on Developing an Integrated Transport Policy: A Report, DETR, July 1998).

Section 5.3

  VIII. We support continued assessment of the economic costs of traffic congestion on trunk roads to better inform public policy-making in working to minimise these costs. Additionally, we note that, in paragraph 7.14 of the separate document, A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England: Understanding the New Approach to Appraisal (DETR, July 1998), there is reference to the current limited ability of techniques used in regeneration appraisal to produce quantitative outcomes. Consequently we would support the idea of research to refine these economic appraisal techniques. Once again, however, we would question the need to ask a new quango—a Commission for Integrated Transport (as suggested in the further document, A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England: Guidance on the New Approach to Appraisal, DETR, July 1998, paragraph 1.14)—to assist with this, given the number of people in the public sector, academia and the private sector who are involved in transport studies.

  IX. Referring to the last-mentioned document, we support the stated aims in paragraph 2.8 set out in support of an efficient economy, in particular the aim of reducing road users' journey times and vehicle operating costs.

CHAPTER 7: THE RE -FOCUSED INVESTMENT PROGRAMME

  X. It is good to see the priority being accorded to trunk road maintenance. According to the Quarry Products Association, it is a welcome trend to see plans to increase spending (to levels closer to those of the early to mid 1990s), although there were questions about how local roads were to be properly maintained and improved, given that 98 per cent of the total road network would soon come within the responsibility of local authorities ("The road ahead", Jerry McLaughlin, Asphalt Now, Issue 3, Autumn 1998, page 3). This must be an area of concern to very many IoD members, whose organisations are regular users of local roads.

Sections 7.2 and 7.3

  XI. We note with approval that it is intended to explore new public-private partnerships such as road Maintain Finance and Operate contracts and Regional Traffic Control Centres.

ANNEX A SUMMARY OF CONSULTATION RESPONSES

Paragraph 6

  XII. We note with interest that "Imposition of a tax on private non-residential parking was suggested by a fifth of the local authorities who responded, but by few other respondents". Even taking account of the possibility that this minority may have had particularly severe traffic congestion, the consultation does not seem to give strong support for the notion. Furthermore, it does not seem to bode well for the Government's plans to ask councils to actually implement this idea. It may show that there is little enthusiasm to implement the charges after all. This is something we are rather pleased about, from our members' recent expression of opinion on the White Paper (see Annex A of this response).

Paragraph 14

  XIII. We concur with the view that "the car [is] seen as continuing to have a very important role in providing access to remoter rural areas". We would ask all public policy-makers to bear in mind before any sweeping introduction of workplace parking charges, given that around 20 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom live in rural areas or the rural fringes. For example, figures for England and Wales alone showed that mid-1995 around 11 per cent of the population lived in district council areas classified as remoter, mainly rural districts (Annual Abstracts of Statistics 1997 Edition, edited by Daniel Wisniewski, Office for National Statistics, TSO, 1997).


 
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