Examination of Witnesses (Questions 580
WEDNESDAY 12 DECEMBER 2001
SPELLAR, MP, MR
580. I asked whether it is reliable or not.
(Mr Spellar) I think you would argue it is possibly
reliable. Whether it is satisfactory as to how the average motorist
or even, indeed, the average pedestrian perceives congestion is
more open to question.
581. I understand the Welsh Office is looking
at the question of time reliability for journeys. Would that not
be much more useful because to know every day that you are stuck
in congestion does not really matter but the problem appears to
be if you are going to be stuck for half an hour you have got
to build that into your journey time?
(Mr Spellar) That is very much, is it not, about active
traffic management and it is about flow of traffic? One of the
key areas I addressed, for example, was the amount of money we
are putting into tomorrow's local transport plans on junctions
and traffic light systems precisely in order to facilitate flow
and I hope to achieve steadier flows of traffic but also more
582. In the Ten Year Transport Plan, do
you think buses, walking, cycling were given full weight or do
you think they could have made a bigger contribution?
(Mr Spellar) I think we are giving sufficient weight
to those. I am slightly concerned in terms of media comment that
there is huge emphasisI say this not by way of complaint,
I hasten to addon rail and tube, which are important but
we must still recognise that more people go to work by bus in
this country than by those means. We do need to be focussing on
that, which is why I have such concerns regarding the reduction
on some routes, and why we are discussing with the Passenger Transport
Authorities and others what we can to do improve that.
583. Ms McIntosh has referred to the Walking
Report and I think we were rather relieved at your response. One
specific disappointment was that you would not scrap the Local
Transport Notes 1/95 and 2/95 but instead you were going to offer
a policy guidance. If you were a highway engineer defending a
negligence case do you think it would be easy enough to be able
to quote policy guidance rather than Local Transport Traffic Notes?
(Mr Spellar) I am advised, Mr Bennett, that both the
Notes recommend practices to be followed and are clearly a form
of guidance and will be supplemented by new guidance.
584. And you think that is going to be easy
for people to work out or a minefield for the lawyers to work
(Mr Spellar) I would hope my officials will be working
with the local planning officers and local transport officers
precisely in order to make them easy to work with.
585. Finally, 4.4 million new homes by 2016.
How many homes do you expect to be car-free developments?
(Mr Spellar) I have no indication of that. I can consult
with the planning part of our Department to see if we have an
estimate on that.
Andrew Bennett: Thank you very much.
586. Why have you not mentioned the
waterways in this report?
(Mr Spellar) I did not know we had not.
Mr O'Brien: There is a reference to the sister
document on waterways but nothing else.
587. Would you like to give us a note? You
can also give us a note on the proportion of congestion reduction.
(Mr Spellar) Chairman, I am advised that waterways
is actually covered by another Department.
(Mr Spellar) By DEFRA.
Andrew Bennett: It is no longer transport?
589. Not in this annual report because this
was before you managed to slough it off without noticing. I will
tell you what, Minister, I will do a deal with you. You do me
an explanation of why waterways were not referred to in this report,
although they were your responsibility, and I will not tell anybody.
(Mr Spellar) Or ask another department.
590. No, I am asking you.
(Mr Spellar) We will do you a note on it.
Chairman: I am asking you to do me a note on
your responsibilities in this annual report and why it was not
included. Thank you very much.
591. We were assured by the Deputy Prime
Minister that waterways would be part of the Transport Plan, so
where has the change been made?
(Mr Spellar) I will include that in the note.
592. Can you tell me what proportion of
congestion reduction comes from urban pricing schemes and what
proportion from expansion in the road network? Will you give me
a note on that?
(Mr Spellar) We will give you a note on that.
Chairman: Are we agreed that we are now up to
about six notes?
Mr Donohoe: I make it seven.
Chairman: I make it six. Minister, you have
Miss McIntosh: Chairman?
Chairman: Very briefly.
593. This is, I hope, not a controversial
point but we have not covered airports. I was particularly disappointed
to see that Manchester Airport have announced a possible loss
of 200 security guards in view of the fact that they have had
a second runway that has opened this year. In your view is that
a result of the downturn following September 11 and has your Department
formed a particular view over what course of action you might
take seeing that companies like First Choice are now looking at
potential serious losses?
(Mr Spellar) We have not formed a view on that particular
course, although, of course, right the way across the industry
there is a substantial number of redundancies taking place as
a result of the downturn in traffic. I see from reports today
for Christmas bookings there seems to be a fairly robust pattern.
On those airports that are dealing with the low cost, short haul
traffic, a number of those, such as Glasgow and Stansted, have
seen an increase in their through traffic. We are keeping engaged
on a fairly regular basis on airport security, Transec are in
regular discussion in all of the airports on that. We do recognise
that these are very difficult times for the aviation industry,
however we also recognise that on previous downturns there has
been a recovery of the trend line within about a year to 18 months
and sustained growth. Obviously those are issues that we will
be addressing when we produce the regional airport studies, the
southeast region is the one that is receiving the most public
attention, also the regional airport studies for the other regions
as well, which we will be publishing in the Spring.
Chairman: Minister, you have been very helpful.
Thank you very much indeed.