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This work will inform our wider policy development in this area, alongside assessment of the scope for other technological options—including more fuel efficient conventional engines and hydrogen powered fuel cells—to help us move to a more sustainable transport system over the coming decades.

Planning and Development (Heathrow)

The Petition of the Supporters of the Campaign to Save Cherry Lane Cemetery,

Declares that the proposal by the British Airports Authority to construct an access road to the proposed Third Runway and Sixth Terminal at Heathrow Airport through Cherry Lane Cemetery, which is the only functioning cemetery in this part of the London Borough of Hillingdon, is an act of outrageous, sacrilegious destruction, which is causing considerable distress to the families of loved ones buried at the cemetery and concern to the local community.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon the Government to reject this proposal and safeguard this site.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by John McDonnell , Official Report, 16 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 374 .] [P000235]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 September 2008:

The Government acknowledges the concerns over the protection of Cherry Lane Cemetery in Hillingdon, but believes they are unfounded. Plans published as part of our Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport consultation and illustrating access roads to an expanded airport were clearly marked as ‘indicative’. They do not purport to show the proposed third runway precinct or road layout in any detail, because at the moment any such plans are at an early stage. If policy approval is given by the Government for development at Heathrow and BAA proceed to submit a planning application, detailed final plans will need to be drawn up and be subject to further consultation in the context of a planning application. This would need to include detailed plans for road access, developed by BAA through a proper process of feasibility study and option selection.

I understand that BAA are very much aware of public concerns about Cherry Lane Cemetery and have made clear their commitment not to disturb graves or inhibit access to the cemetery.

Road Safety (Norfolk)

The Petition of residents of South West Norfolk,

Declares that the safety of children and other pedestrians outside schools is vital; that the numbers of road fatalities per year is far too high, that the roads outside schools are particularly sensitive areas; that reducing the speed limit on roads past schools would be an effective way of addressing this.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider reducing the national speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour outside schools

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Christopher Fraser , Official Report, 17 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 502 .] [P000243]

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Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 September 2008:

The Government supports and encourages the introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones on the roads around schools, but it may not always be practical to do so, for instance on roads with a strategic function.

Local traffic authorities are responsible for setting local speed limits and therefore have the power to introduce 20mph speed limits on any of their roads, if they believe it appropriate to do so. The Department’s role is to provide local authorities with guidance to ensure those speed limits are appropriately and consistently set.

The Department fully supports local authorities that wish to introduce 20mph speed limits and 20mph zones on their roads, particularly in residential areas where vulnerable road users, such as children, are likely to be present. This is reflected in our guidance to local authorities on setting local speed limits issued in August 2006.

It must also be recognised that simply reducing a speed limit does not automatically achieve a similar reduction in vehicle speeds unless proven traffic calming measures are also introduced. This is backed by research which shows that simply reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph without additional traffic calming only reduces vehicle speeds by around 1mph.

Typically, a 20mph zone will cover a number of roads, often incorporating school premises and must contain proven traffic calming measures within its parameters to physically force drivers to reduce their speeds. Research has shown that accident frequency fell by around 60% and the number of accidents involving children reduced by 67% where 20mph zones were introduced.

For these reasons the Department firmly believes that a local authority’s knowledge of the roads within their area means that they are better placed to decide which speed limits are appropriate for their roads as they will invariably understand local needs and conditions. I believe that this process will not only improve road safety but will also lead to increased respect for and compliance with speed limits.

We are collecting data on 20mph zones and will circulate to all Local Authorities in due course.

Traffic Noise (M3)

The Petition of the residents of Basing and others,

Declares that traffic on M3 has increased dramatically between junctions 5 and 7 over the past 10 years; that this has led to significant increases in noise levels for many local residents, excessive peak time motorway tail backs and consequently unacceptable levels of rat running in our villages and suburban areas.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to implement their plan to install noise reducing road surfaces on all 6 lanes of the motorway and to put in place improvements to junction 6 to ease traffic flow at peak times.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Mrs. Maria Miller , Official Report, 22 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 758 .] [P000257]

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Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 September 2008:

Roads are resurfaced primarily to address maintenance need, not to reduce noise levels, although noise reduction is an additional benefit of maintenance work. The carriageway between junctions 6 and 7 is in serviceable condition and is not programmed for resurfacing in the near future. Approximately 15% of the carriageway of the M3 between junctions 5 and 6 has already been resurfaced with quieter surfacing. The plan, which is subject to the availability of funds in 2009/10, includes for at least a further 10% between junctions 5 and 6 to be resurfaced with quieter surfacing by April 2010.

The Highways Agency is working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the production of noise maps and action plans in line with the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006. The maps for England’s roads were published on 16 May 2008 and the Agency is currently working with DEFRA and local authorities to develop a traffic noise action plan. Using these plans, the Agency will review the priorities and measures to provide noise mitigation solutions within the funds available.

Despite the traffic signals at junction 6 being managed to maximise traffic flows there can be tailbacks on the off slips of the M3 at Junction 6 during the morning peak period. A scheme is currently being developed to address the hazard of queuing on the main carriageway which will involve the off-slips at junction 6 being extended through the use of the hard shoulder. There is also a study programmed for 2009/10 to model the wider road network around junction 6 to assess the impact of the Growth Point status of Basingstoke to identify further options for improvement.

Work and Pensions

Post Office Closures (Cheshire)

The Petition of Mrs Shelagh Beswick, Manager, Wincham Post Office, Mr Alastair Carmichael, Sub Post Master, Barnton Post Office, and others of like disposition,

Declares that they and others care deeply about their local Post Office, where they wish to be able to continue to use their Post Office Card Account, as they are unable to easily visit the bank in their nearest town.

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The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to ensure that POCA2 remains a Post Office product.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Mr. George Osborne , Official Report, 17 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 15P .] [P000248]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, received 6 August 2008:

The current Post Office card account contract ends in March 2010, as always planned, and the Government has decided that there will be a new service after 2010. We received clear legal advice that we were required to tender competitively for this product, in order to ensure that best value for money for the taxpayer is achieved.

That process is now well under way and an announcement on the successful bidder will be made in accordance with appropriate procurement rules once a decision has been reached.

The successor to the Post Office card account will be accessible at personal teller outlets throughout the UK, with widespread coverage to ensure that it will be available in rural areas as well as urban communities.

The Government still believes that being paid into a bank or building society account is the best option for the vast majority of our customers, and around three in four of our customers are paid this way. It gives them more choice about where and when they get their money, enables them to make savings on some bills by paying by direct debit and get interest on balances on their accounts.

However, the Government remains committed to allowing people to access their pension and benefit in cash at the post office if they choose to do so, and there are around 25 accounts which make that possible thereby generating income for Post Office Ltd and sub-postmasters.

Post Offices play an important social and economic role in the communities they serve and we are determined to maintain a national Post Office network allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country. This is why we invested £2 billion between 1999 and 2006 to support the network and are providing a further £1.7 billion up to 2011 to maintain a national network and put it on a stable footing. Funding includes a continued annual subsidy of up to £150 million until at least 2011 with an expectation of a continued need for subsidy beyond this.

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