Barbara has spoken out at Westminster criticising Transport Ministers for announcing in the Comprehensive Spending Review that they will go ahead with Highways Agency plans for an additional lane on the M60 Motorway. She has described the scheme as an “expensive white elephant”.
Speaking in a debate on Transport and the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Barbara said:
“The decision announced in the spending review to go ahead with that scheme is wrong because it is not a safe option, it will damage the quality of life of my constituents and it does not represent value for money. By going ahead with the scheme in the current restrained financial climate, the Government are opting for what was described by Highways Agency officials at a residents' meeting as a "cheap and cheerful option," rather than making a proper assessment of the causes of the congestion that the additional lane scheme purports to solve.”
Barbara argued in the debate that the additional lane would not improve congestion on the motorway, which is mainly caused by weaving as motorists enter and leave the motorway, as junctions 12 and 13 are less than half a mile apart. With closely spaced junctions and much heavy goods traffic, Barbara argued that plans to create four narrow lanes with no hard shoulder were dangerous.
“Statistics on safety from the House of Commons Library show that between 2005 and 2009 there were 189 accidents, involving 310 casualties, between junctions 12 and 15 of the M60. It seems to me that any scheme that causes traffic to speed up in narrower lanes of that busy stretch of motorway will increase that danger, particularly because it will bring traffic closer to residents' homes.”
Barbara said that the environmental impact was also a big worry to local people with traffic brought closer to their homes increasing noise and pollution. Residents living next to the motorway have already experienced heavy goods vehicles leaving the motorway and ploughing through a fence into a resident’s garden. This led local residents to be fearful for the safety of young children. She also argued that the Highways Agency had not consulted local people properly, making many mistakes in the way they communicated their proposals and failing to deliver on communications promised to local residents.
Barbara argued that the scheme represented poor value for money and that the decision to authorize it should be reversed. Barbara is very concerned about the safety of residents who live next to the motorway and she feels those planning the scheme should take into account the safety and amenity of those local people.
Barbara ended her speech by saying:
“I believe that the Government need to take a longer-term view and wait until funding is available for a proper and fundamental redesign of the key motorway junctions, because that would deliver a longer-lasting and safer solution for the area….[This scheme] is unpopular with local people and will be an expensive white elephant, because it will be dangerous, noisy and polluting and will not solve peak-hour congestion problems on the M60. The Government should not be wasting scarce resources on it but should use the money for the many bypasses and much-wanted schemes … throughout the country.”