Published: March 23, 2010
Burnham-On-Sea MP steps up drive to halt M5 disruption

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week attacked the government over unnecessary restrictions on local motorways.

David Heathcoat-Amory raised the matter during a debate in the House of Commons with Chris Mole, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory told "I am still receiving a lot of complaints from constituents about unnecesary restrictions on the M5 which causes frustration, delays and missed appointments. I don't think that the Government realises how frustrating this can be for motorists and how damaging it is if they therefore seek short cuts across Somerset to avoid the motorway."

During the debate, Conservative MP Anne Winterton had asked: "As a keen motorist and member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I consider that to travel by car is a first-class experience - until one comes across an army of cones, marching for many motorway miles and restricting lanes, without contractors undertaking any work. What sanction does the Department have to ensure that heavily taxed motorists are given more consideration?"

Chris Mole responded: "I hope that the Honourable Lady is not suggesting that we bring back John Mayor's cones hotline. I seem to recall reading recently that last time a journalist rang that number he was told that there was no-one there any more."

"The Honourable Lady should appreciate that there are a number of reasons why the perception might be that there are cones without works going on - for example, when materials are hardening. I would have thought that the Honourable Lady was capable of understanding some basic civil engineering principles. Materials such as concrete take some time to dry, and it is not a very good idea to drive cars on it while that is happening."

Then, Mr Heathcoat-Amory asked: "Will the roads Minister give a less dismissive reply to the legitimate point raised by my Honourable Friend Ann Winterton about the proliferation of road works, speed restrictions and cones on motorways, which causes intense frustration to the travelling public purely for the convenience of the operators? He is getting a reputation for avoiding responsibility for real problems. Can he now rise to the occasion and give a real answer to a real problem?"

Chris Mole replied: ''The Highways Agency takes significant steps to minimise the time that road works take, and has positive incentives in place for its contractors to ensure that their road works can be completed in advance of the necessary length of time, if possible."


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