HC Deb 27 June 1962 vol 661 cc1136-7
15. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the widespread indignation caused among local residents, shopkeepers and school authorities as a result of his traffic proposals affecting Highgate Hill and Highgate Village; and whether he will reconsider his decision.

Mr. Marples

I have received many objections about my proposals. I am considering them all carefully before making any decision.

Mr. Fletcher

The Minister's proposals have not only produced a volume of protests on the part of residents and shopkeepers in that area but have been roundly condemned by the various education and hospital authorities, which are abundant in the area, as likely to produce not merely the maximum inconvenience but the maximum danger. This proposal about driving thousands of lorries up Highgate Hill and through Highgate Village is quite ludicrous.

Mr. Marples

We have had many objections from councils and local organisations, which I would not minimise. They have set out their reasons for objecting and, in some cases, have given alternatives. Every alternative suggestion will be studied. The House and the country expect the Minister of Transport to keep traffic going until it affects them and then they say, "Do not do it". This is the dilemma of every Minister. One moment the House asks him to get London's traffic moving and the next moment it says, "Not as long as it affects me".

Mr. K. Robinson

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that local reaction to this scheme, on safety and other grounds, apart from amenity considerations, has been of quite exceptional violence, and for very good reasons? When will he receive the deputation led by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Lady Gammans) and myself about which I wrote to him more than six weeks ago?

Mr. Marples

I realise that the hon. Gentleman has a great knowledge of this area, because he lives in it. However, I do not propose to see the deputations until I have analysed carefully all the suggestions which they have made. That is the only sensible thing to do.

Mr. Mellish

Is it not a fact that this scheme is one of the prices which we have to pay for being a democratic State? If we want to get anything moving which is worth while, some people will get hurt. May we have an assurance that at the end of the day no Government and no Minister will take action without, at any rate, first taking carefully into account the people affected by such schemes?

Mr. Marples

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman; that is what I said. I will consider the written representations and alternatives most carefully. I will then be prepared to see and argue with the deputation and will then make the decision. However, the person mostly hurt in all these schemes is the Minister himself.