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6 Dec 2005 : Column 1115W—continued

Mineral Railway Lines

16. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what powers he has to safeguard former mineral railway lines for future transport use. [34476]

Ms Buck: Disused railway land that is owned by British Rail Residuary Limited is subject to a review of its possible use in the future for railway purposes prior to its disposal. Similar arrangements apply to land owned by Network Rail.

Road Network (East Anglia)

17. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the road network in East Anglia. [34477]

Dr. Ladyman: In recent years, the Department and the Highways Agency have undertaken a number of studies on individual roads and wider areas which have assessed the problems and effectiveness of key routes within East Anglia, including the A11, A12, A120, A14 and A47.

Concessionary Fares

18. Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the availability of concessionary fares for pensioners across local authority area boundaries. [34478]

Ms Buck: We are keen for local authorities to work together to provide cross boundary, county or regional-wide schemes where that suits local circumstances. Local authorities will have discretion to work together to provide cross-boundary travel, as they do at present, based on their judgment of local needs and their overall financial priorities.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date a decision on the distribution of concessionary fares funding will be made. [34051]

Ms Buck: The decision was announced as part of the provisional local government settlement on 5 December.

Telford to London Rail Services

19. David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on rail services from Telford to London. [34479]

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Ms Buck: The Department is continuing to examine the business case for direct rail passenger services linking both Shrewsbury and Telford with London. The work is being carried out in conjunction with the train operators, local authorities in the area and other interested bodies.

A1 Western Bypass

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department required section 106 provision to be made to widen the A1 Western Bypass as part of the approval of Newcastle Great Park; for what stretch of the A1 such widening was required; and when he expects the widening to take place. [31576]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 24 November 2005]: Planning approval has been given for the development of Newcastle Great Park in phases. The earlier phases of the development have no planning conditions that require the A1 to be widened. However, in order for the later stages to be built the developer would have to fund the widening of a section of the A1 Western Bypass immediately adjacent to the development—between Ponteland Road and North Brunton Junctions—from two to three lanes in each direction, a distance of 4 kilometres. This would be under the provision of a S278 agreement which is equivalent to S106, but for a trunk road not a local road. The timing of the improvement is in the hands of the developer and the rate at which he wishes to implement the phases of the project, and is only guaranteed to go ahead if there is full development of the site.


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations the Department has received from the (a) East Midlands regional assembly and (b) East Midlands Development Agency on improvements to the A14. [34089]

Dr. Ladyman: Neither East Midlands regional assembly (EMRA) nor East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) have made any representations to the Department regarding improvements to the A14.

However, they both contributed to London to South Midlands Multi Modal Study (LSM MMS). Its recommendations were to widen the A14 through the East Midlands to dual three lanes. Both were also heavily involved in the production and publication in March 2005 of the East Midlands regional spatial strategy (RSS 8) and the Milton Keynes and South Midlands sub-regional strategy. Both strategies include a timetable for implementing improvements to the A14, matching the LSM MMS recommendations.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the A14 Kettering bypass is included in the Department's targeted programme of improvements. [34090]

Dr. Ladyman: A scheme to widen the existing A14 around Kettering has not yet been included in the Government's targeted programme of improvement (TPI). It will not be included until we are satisfied that a robust and affordable scheme can be delivered to meet the aspirations set out in the East Midlands regional
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spatial strategy (RSS 8) and the Milton Keynes and South Midlands sub-regional strategy, both published in March 2005.

Both documents state 2016–17 as the earliest implementation date for the widening scheme. Schemes are entered into the TPI between five and seven years before their implementation.

A417 (Maintenance)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who is responsible for the maintenance of the A417 between Cirencester and Gloucester. [34998]

Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency is responsible for the A417 between Cirencester and Gloucester, which is managed on their behalf, as a Design, Build, Finance and Operate contract, by Road Management Services (Gloucester) Limited.

Blue Badge Scheme

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what offence is committed if someone wrongly takes advantage of the Blue Badge scheme on private land; and if he will make a statement. [35090]

Ms Buck: The Blue Badge scheme is a European and national scheme offering parking concessions primarily for disabled people with severe walking difficulties who travel as drivers or passengers. The scheme applies to on-street parking only.

The Blue Badge scheme does not apply to off-street car parks, private roads or at most airports. Charges for and conditions of use in off-street car parks, which are likely to be privately owned and managed, are a matter for the landowner. It is unlikely that spaces in such off-street car parks marked for blue badge holders are legally enforceable and the regulation of such parking is at the discretion of landowners and depends on the courtesy and consideration of drivers.

It is the Department for Transport's view that it is possible in law for the owners of a private car park to agree with the local authority that a parking place order be made in respect of that car park. Conditions of use can then be enforced as if it were a local authority car park, with penalties or excess charges levied on offenders. It would, therefore, be an offence under the Traffic Regulation Order rather the Blue Badge regulations.

Buckshaw Village (Railway Station)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress being made on the new railway station at Buckshaw village in Chorley. [35481]

Derek Twigg: Lancashire county council have a proposal to provide a new station at Buckshaw Village. The council are in discussions with Network Rail about the proposal, who would be responsible for delivering the project.
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c2c Line/One Rail

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much investment has been made in (a) the c2c line and (b) One Rail between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria in each of the last two years. [34255]

Derek Twigg: The One franchise began operation on 1 April 2005, since when the franchise holder has invested approximately £480,000 on the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria line. c2c does not operate trains on this route.

Car Accidents (Young People)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to reduce car accidents involving people between the ages of 17 and 24 years; and if he will make a statement. [35089]

Dr. Ladyman: I am very concerned to reduce car accidents involving young drivers, especially those that result in deaths and serious injuries. The Department has recently consulted on a more structured approach to learning to drive and a copy of its decision letter in August 2004 is on the Department's website at—–01.hcsp#P37_1339.

The main conclusions were that:

We decided that further statutory regulation on the way new drivers learn would be unlikely to make enough of a contribution to road safety to justify legislative action at present.

The Department has a substantial programme of research relating to learning to drive and new drivers. It is repeating and extending a cohort study of young and new drivers, which is a large scale evaluation of they way people learn to drive, and their attitudes and behaviour, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of measures introduced as part of the Government's Road Safety Strategy. Separate studies are being commissioned on DSA's Driver Record, and the Pass Plus scheme for newly-qualified drivers.

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