HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 cc3-4
3. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is satisfied with the control by motorway reconstruction contractors of coning and lane closures on the M1 and M6.

Mrs. Chalker

I shall continue to seek ways to cut down the number and extent of land closures during maintenance work.

Mr. Atkins

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her apparent success in reducing the number of cones on motorways. As she knows, I am one of those hon. Members who complained consistently about this issue. Will she keep up the pressure, bearing in mind that, with winter conditions approaching, the need for safety and security on the roads is all the more important?

Mrs. Chalker

I thank my hon. Friend for those remarks. We shall continue to try to reduce the number of cones, but I am sure that hon. Members realise that when we place cones in position for safety they are there for a good reason.

Mr. Corbett

Does the Minister recall telling me about a contract for gritblasting the underside of the M6 at spaghetti junction which was let at a cost of £440,000 for 30 weeks, but which cost £1.4 million over 78 weeks? Does she agree that it would have been more prudent for that contract to have gone out to re-tender?

Mrs. Chalker

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the difficulties that there have been with the midland motorway links. I have replied to him and to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Bar (Mr. Rooker) on the subject over the months. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall not let up in my surveillance of what is happening on the midland motorway links.

Mr. Higgins

As the cones appear to be breeding at a quite horrifying rate, will my hon. Friend say whether the Government have a strategic plan for the reconstruction of the M1 and M6 and, if so, over what period that is likely to be completed?

Mrs. Chalker

Indeed we have a plan for the reconstruction of the M1 and M6 to make them into stronger motorways. They were built to lower standards in years gone by. At the progress of 70 to 80 miles per annum of renewal, we still have some way to go. We must make this asset good by doing the work now rather than leaving it to get into a worse state.

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