Select Committee on Treasury Fourth Special Report


Letter from Secretary of State for Transport to the Chairman of the Committee

Transport in Yorkshire

When Gordon Brown recently gave evidence at the Treasury Select Committee on the 2004 Budget he agreed that I would write to you about the delivery of road scheme improvements in Yorkshire. This was in connection with a question that John Mann asked. (Q329 of the uncorrected evidence refers)

We are already making considerable progress in delivering improvements to trunk and local road networks in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Two major schemes were completed in 2003—improvements to the A1033 Hedon Road, Hull and A650 Bingley Relief Road. The A63 Selby Bypass is expected to be completed in spring 2004.

A number of other schemes in the region are under construction including:

  • A1 Ferrybridge to Hook Moor—work commenced on this scheme in May 2003 and it is expected to be completed in summer 2006;
  • A1 Wetheby to Walshford—work commenced in May 2003 and completion is expected in spring 2005

There are a further five Yorkshire and Humber schemes in the Targeted Programme of Improvements (TPI) including a bypass of Rillington in North Yorkshire, two schemes for dualling of the A66 in North Yorkshire, and major junction improvements at Melton near Hull and on the A64 at Bilbrough Top, near York.

On the trunk road network the Highways Agency has been developing measures to speed up the delivery of schemes once they are added to the TPI. In particular, the Agency is developing an improved procurement strategy that includes appointing contractors at a much earlier stage within the process. The Agency is aiming to produce more focused environmental statements and improvements to post-inquiry procedures. Collectively, these measures are expected to lead to a reduction in delivery times for many schemes from their entry into the TPI to start of construction.

Turning to the local road network, a number of schemes have been completed over the last few years including the Denaby Main Diversion, a bypass in Doncaster completed in October 2002 and Stage 2 and 3 of the Coalfield Link Road in Barnsley which opened to traffic in October 2003. A further six local transport schemes are under construction within the region.

It is important to emphasise that we look to local authorities to develop integrated transport strategies as part of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) process. The local authorities should address the key transport problems within their areas and identify priorities for funding through their LTP.

Where the LTP process leads to the identification of a major road scheme (i.e. a scheme costing more than £5m) as potentially an appropriate solution, it is then for the local authority to work up a full scheme appraisal for consideration by my Department. It is also essential that schemes go through the appropriate consultation and statutory procedures. The improvements to the procurement process being developed by the Highways Agency are also relevant to local authorities. Many authorities are already developing such techniques for both new major road schemes and in their road maintenance programmes. We are encouraging the Highways Agency to share best practice procurement techniques with local authorities. The significant additional funding we are providing local authorities have also allowed them to obtain skills and advice that they require in taking schemes forward.

I hope this is helpful.

Alistair Darling
Secretary of State
Department for Transport
29 April 2004

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