HC Deb 21 July 1959 vol 609 cc1043-5
10. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Works what precautions were taken in Hyde Park during the London-Paris air race to ensure that the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit was observed by contestants and the safety of the public protected.

Mr. H. Nicholls

Competitors in this race—like all other drivers who use the roads in Hyde Park—are bound by the regulations regarding speed limits and this was especially drawn to the attention of the organisers prior to the starting date. Naturally the police responsible for enforcing the regulations have taken fully into account the existence of the competition.

Mr. Davies

While not wanting to detract from the sporting initiative of the contestants in this stunt enterprisingly organised by the Daily Mail, may I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to say why this control point was agreed to in view of the fact that there is the hub of a great deal of pedestrian traffic, and the parks are mainly for pedestrians? Can he state whether it is or is not the fact that prior to this Question being put on the Notice Paper no particular police precautions were taken and that it is only since it appeared that there has been an attempt to control the traffic? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Can he further state—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—what accidents have taken place?

Mr. Nicholls

To answer the last part of the supplementary question first, from the first the organisers of the event have warned each competitor before he sets off that a breach of the traffic regulations would entail disqualification. From the first, in many cases—not all, but in many cases—the police patrols have followed competitors until they have left the park. That is a fact. As to whether we should have allowed this starting point, we had a request for that, and the police had no objection. Personally, I should not have liked this City to have been any less forthcoming than Paris, or this point less important that the Arc de Triomphe.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

It is not a fact that one competitor was disqualified for exceeding the speed limit in the course of the race, which has given a great deal of pleasure to a large number of people?

Mr. Nicholls

It is true there was one disqualification. I cannot confirm at this stage that it was due to exceeding the speed limit.

13. Mr. Page

asked the Minister of Works what steps he proposes to take to save the lives of pedestrians crossing the carriageways in Hyde Park, having regard to the two deaths which have occurred there this month.

Mr. H. Nicholls

The only four such fatal accidents in Hyde Park over the last two and a half years have been on the East Carriage Road. This road will be absorbed into the Park Lane Improvement Scheme, preliminary work on which has already begun, and in which provision is made for pedestrian subways at a number of points.

Mr. Page

Yes, but does my hon. Friend appreciate that the immense increase in the volume of traffic in the park during recent months has altered the whole character of the park as a place of recreation for those on foot? Does he realise that pedestrians are imperilled through the absence of enforcement of the speed limit, and that this is made much worse by the disregard of the park regulations? Will he please look into this matter again?

Mr. Nicholls

Yes, we will certainly keep that in mind, but I think I ought to tell my hon. Friend that the latest statistics available show that the accident rate in the East Carriage Road, which is the one he has in mind, is only half the rate for Central London generally. I do not say that in any sense of complacency, but in view of the attention which has been drawn to this park, I think it is well to bear it in mind.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

To ensure that pedestrians, particularly children, use them, will the pedestrian subways have moving staircases, like those provided in some cities on the Continent?

Mr. Nicholls

The only information I have at the moment is that four subways will be provided, but if the right hon. Gentleman will put a Question to my right hon. Friend who is responsible for this work, he will perhaps give a detailed Answer.