Previous Section Index Home Page

Postal Voting

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research has been undertaken on the new criteria for postal voting; what steps have been taken to promote it; what the level of use of postal votes issued was; and if he will make a statement. [3192]

Dr. Whitehead: The Electoral Commission intends to publish by the end of July its review of the general election, including the operation of postal voting. Statistical information, including information about the numbers of postal votes issued will be in the Commission's further report expected at the end of the year. When the general election was announced an extensive Home Office publicity campaign was launched on TV, radio, in the press and through leaflets.

Traffic Area Network

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on what date the Traffic Area Network computer system will be implemented in the whole of the United Kingdom. [3464]

Mr. Spellar: The Traffic Area Network (TAN) has embarked on a major change programme, called TAN 21, designed to modernise the way the organisation carries out its business. The programme includes complete renewal of all computer systems throughout the network. The ICT infrastructure—the hardware, the links between the offices and the new e-mail systems—was installed last year and is already operating nationally. The first phase of the new business system, which handles the processing of operator licences, is currently being piloted in the Scottish traffic area. Subject to satisfactory performance of the pilot, this phase of the system will be rolled out to the rest of the country shortly. We are aiming to complete implementation of all the new systems, which include new e-commerce services for the industry, computerisation of the compliance and local bus route registration systems and a new finance system, across the whole of Great Britain by the end of the year.

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 12W

Road Works

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what powers local authorities have to co-ordinate the excavation of roads within their areas by statutory undertakers and private companies; and what steps he is taking to review these powers. [3690]

Ms Keeble: Section 59 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 places an obligation on local highway authorities to co-ordinate the execution of utility street works and other works in their streets. This is intended to ensure safety, to minimise inconvenience to road users and to protect the structure of the street and any apparatus located in it. While we have no plans to review this requirement, we are looking at ways in which the co-ordination of works by authorities can be made easier and more effective.

Tram and Guided Bus Systems

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) in which cities (a) tram and (b) guided bus systems have been opened over the past four years; [3542]

Ms Keeble: It is for local authorities to put forward proposals for light rail or guided bus schemes as part of their Local Transport Plan, or the Mayor's Transport Strategy in the case of London. Where Government funding is sought, we require a thorough appraisal of the scheme. Since 1997, five new light rail lines have opened: two extensions to the Manchester Metrolink, the Midland Metro line to Wolverhampton, the Croydon Tramlink and the Docklands Light Railway extension to Lewisham. No new guided bus schemes have been opened within this period. The charts set out those light rail and guided bus schemes that have been approved or given provisional approval with construction and approximate opening dates.

Light rail

SchemeCityLinesConstruction/opening date
Tyne and Wear Metro Extension to SunderlandNewcastle to Sunderland1 lineConstruction began February 2000—opens 2002
Nottingham Express TransitNottingham1 lineConstruction began June 2000—opens 2003
Manchester Metrolink ExtensionsManchester3 linesConstruction to start early 2002—planned to open in 2006
South Hampshire Rapid TransitFareham to Portsmouth1 lineConstruction to start late 2003–04—planned to open in 2006.
Leeds SupertramLeeds3 linesConstruction to start 2002—planned to open in 2006.
Docklands Light Railway to City AirportLondon1 lineConstruction to start early 2002 subject to outcome of Transport and Works Act (TWA) application—aim to open during 2004–05.
Bristol and South Gloucestershire Light Rapid TransitBristol1 lineProvisional construction start 2004 subject to successful economic appraisal and any subsequent TWA application—provisional completion date 2006.
Midland Metro ExtensionsBirmingham2 linesConstruction to start 2003—completion in 2006.

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 13W

Guided bus

A63/A64 York Road and Selby RoadLeedsUnder waySeptember 2001
A641 Manchester RoadBradfordUnder wayAutumn 2001
Crawley FastwayCrawley to GatwickPreliminary works commenced. Major works start February 2002Completion of all three phases by 2005
Chester/Deeside Transport SystemChesterSeeking TWA Powers.Dependent on TWA application
LeighManchesterSeeking TWA powersDependent on TWA application

We are also aware of proposals for new light rail lines in Merseyside, Hull, Bath, East Lancashire and Blackpool and for further extensions to the Manchester Metrolink, the South Yorkshire Supertram, the Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Transit and the Tyne and Wear Metro. There are proposals for guided bus schemes between Luton and Dunstable, in Northampton and in Cambridge.

For London, the Mayor's Transport Strategy includes proposals for four tram or bus transit schemes—East London Transit, Greenwich Waterfront Transit, Uxbridge Road Transit and Cross River Transit. The Mayor and Transport for London will consult on each of these proposals to decide which, if any, should be taken forward, with a view to completing planning, determining funding and financing and starting the construction of any preferred scheme or schemes by 2004.


Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much money will be invested in the Urban Bus Challenge Fund in each of the next 10 years. [3427]

Ms Keeble: Provision for the Urban Bus Challenge in the current three-year spending review period is as follows:

Year£ million

As part of the next Spending Review, which is due to be completed in the summer of 2002, provision for this scheme for 2003–04 will be confirmed, and provision agreed for 2004–05 and 2005–06. Provision for the remaining years of the 10-year Transport Plan (2006–07 to 2010–11) will be considered in the forthcoming review of the plan and in future Government Spending Reviews.

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of the extent to which bus passenger journeys outside London will change in the next 10 years. [3428]

Ms Keeble: Our assumption in the 10-year Transport Plan is that the measures, taken as a whole, would make achievable our target of a 10 per cent. increase in bus use nationally over 10 years. No separate estimates were made of the position outside London.

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made towards extending the rural bus subsidy grant to cover more journeys serving market towns. [3458]

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 14W

Ms Keeble: The White Paper "Our Countryside: The Future" last November announced our intention to extend the eligibility criteria for Rural Bus Subsidy Grant to allow for the support of services operating in and around towns of up to 25,000 (compared with 10,000 previously). We have already implemented that change to the rules from 1 April this year. We have also increased the funding available this year to £41.5 million, with further increases planned for the next two years. It is for the local authority to decide which particular services to support using these additional resources and we have given them some flexibility to fund existing as well as new services.

Next Section Index Home Page