Examination of Witnesses (Questions 540
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
540. Could you just explain what the impact
on the budget for the Ten Year Transport Plan will be. Will it
be neutral? Were these roads not envisaged in the Ten Year Transport
plan so therefore the effect is neutral?
(Mr Matthews) As far as the Agency is concerned it
will be, and my understanding is that as far as the grants and
financial arrangements with local authority are concerned it will
be. What discretion local authorities currently and will have
in the future on how they spend that money, I am not aware of.
541. Can I just press you on that point. What
we have found in North Yorkshire is that highways maintenance
tends to get neglected in favour of social care and education
and a number of other issues, and it does concern me that there
is no agreement with many local authorities, that the programme
is reaching completion in the detrunking of these roads and the
finances have not been agreed. Is my understanding correct then
that this money will go into the pot, not necessarily hypothecated
to highways with the local authorities but it could be used for
(Mr Matthews) That is my understanding but I do not
know whether you have any further comment?
(Mr York) My understanding is that, first of all,
we are agreeing with each authority the relevant amount of maintenance
funds for the roads that are going to be transferred.
542. Do you do that on a whole-life basis?
(Mr York) Broadly on a whole-life basis but using
historic data that we have for the cost of maintaining that road.
Having reached an agreement about the maintenance cost we then
proceed with the detrunking. I am not able to say whether the
local authority will then have flexibility to use that funding
in another way or not.
543. What percentage of agreements have been
(Mr York) I think this year we hope to have detrunked
about a third of our target for detrunking.
544. Can we be boring and ask you what that
means in figures that we can recognise?
(Mr Matthews) The overall target set out in the Roads
Review was to detrunk 30 per cent of the current Highways Agency's
network and we aim to be about a third of the way on that.
545. Does that cover the whole national network
or the network within your remit?
(Mr Matthews) The Highways Agency network.
546. In miles how many roads is it?
(Mr Matthews) That is just under 3,000 kilometres
of our network.
547. Can you give the Committee an assurance
that you do not see any slippage in the road maintenance programme
as envisaged under the plan? I do not know if it also affects
quieter roads? Would it affect quieter roads or just the roads
(Mr Matthews) The detrunking programme is not affecting
the level of funding that we are getting for what we have to maintain,
and we are continuing to invest significantly in maintenance.
That will not be affected nor are the figures and the targets
set out for the quieter road surface programme.
548. So you would no longer be responsible as
the Highways Agency for detrunked roads?
(Mr Matthews) Not once it has passed to the relevant
549. Would these roads come under the Ten Year
Plan in future or not?
(Mr Matthews) They would come under local highway
responsibilities insofar as they are covered by the Ten Year Plan.
550. Do you think there will be any slippage
at all in what is envisaged in the Ten Year Plan for these roads
in terms of maintenance?
(Mr Matthews) From our perspective these roads will
be handed over in a high-quality, well-maintained state. As we
have both said, we have no control thereafter and my understanding
is the Government is not seeking to exercise control precisely
over how local authorities then spend their allocations for roads.
551. How are the dedicated lanes for bus vehicles
on motorways going to work?
(Mr Matthews) There are no firm plans for dedicated
freight lanes at the moment. It is one of the options I know that
a number of the Multi-Modal Studies have been looking at, but
there is no firm plan to provide any of those at the moment.
552. You have not any proposal and you say there
is no firm plan but is this something you are thinking about?
(Mr Matthews) It is something I know a number of the
Multi- Modal Study teams are thinking about.
553. Will not more roads mean more traffic if
we do not get public transport improvements at the same time as
(Mr Matthews) It is clearly true and part of the purpose
of the Multi-Modal Studies reflected this, that transportation
issues need to be looked at in the round, and what the Multi-Modal
Studies are clearly targeted to come forward with is balanced
packages of solutions to transport problems.
554. Suppose some of those packages are not
tranlated into reality in the timescale put forward, then what
(Mr Matthews) It depends how out of balance those
packages are. I think there are large parts of our network, particularly
those very congested parts of the network, where it would be slightly
perverse if we did not invest in making some improvements solely
because other transport investments were not coming along or were
not coming along at the right time. There are always going to
be issues about what the right balance of investment is and which
investments come first but I do not think it would ever be a question
of not investing it in roads because other forms of transport
are not getting the right investment at the right time.
555. Is improving safety more important than
shortening journey times?
(Mr Matthews) I do not think it is a question of either/or.
They are both very important. We can contribute significantly
to reducing the loss of life by the way in which we design roads
and improve the layout of roads but, equally, the mobility of
people and services around this country is of great importance
556. You are not being quite straight with Mrs
Ellman, are you, because you are relying on the outcome of the
Multi-Modal Studies in regards to implementing your 360 miles
of road widening. Those 80 major schemes you are talking about,
is there a possibility that some of them are not going to completed
(Mr Matthews) I think it is certain that not all of
the schemes that would be identified within the Multi-Modal Studies
will be completed by 2010.
557. You are rather giving the impression these
balanced packages will come forward and then you will proceed
on that basis. Is it not true that you already have your plans
and you expect to go ahead with what you have decided on, irrespective
of what the Multi-Modal Studies show?
(Mr Matthews) No, the decisions will be made not by
the Agency but by Ministers after the Multi-Modal Studies. One
of the schemes that was an illustrative scheme in the Ten Year
Plan, the Hastings Bypass Ministers decided after the Multi-Modal
Study decision not to go ahead with that. It will be Ministers'
decisions on the outcome of those studies not the illustrative
schemes that were in the Ten Year Plan figures that will determine
558. Do you do any financial assessments of
the cost of saving a life and then relate that to the cost of
making the journey shorter?
(Mr Matthews) Yes, that is part of the appraisal approach
which we touched on earlier.
559. If you were deciding what to do with what
are inevitably limited funds, which then would get the priority?
(Mr Matthews) It is a balance of looking at the different
contributions to the different parts of the appraisal. No one
scheme is going to have an exclusive safety benefit as opposed
to a congestion benefit or an accessibility benefit or an environmental
benefit. Schemes, and we have a large number in the programme,
are aimed primarily at safety but we will always look at the balance
of cost and advantages that any scheme gives.
1 "A New Deal for Trunk Roads" gives a figure
of 40 per cent of existing trunk roads. The Highways Agency network
at the time of the 10 Year Plan, consisted of 10,072 kilometres
of road of all classes. Some 3,376 km are to be detrunked - or
around 33.5 per cent. The non-motorway network consisted of 7,264
km on all-purpose trunk road, of which 3,369km, or 46.4 per cent,
is to be de-trunked. Back