HC Deb 20 June 1984 vol 62 cc343-6
Mr. Craigen

I beg to move amendment No. 60, in page 15, line 5, at end insert— '(c) and provided that it is connected to the public road network'.

The First Deputy Chairman

With this amendment it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 61 to 65 and 70.

Mr. Craigen

As matters stand, a roads authority might well be obliged to take over culs-de-sac, which might then come under public expenditure even though the spine road had not been completed. This could result in difficulties for a roads authority in carrying out its statutory obligation. We tabled amendment No. 60 to ensure that local authorities would have power to incur expenditure where side roads were definitely to be connected to a spine road that had been adopted.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Amendments 61 to 65 and 70 are very largely for the purposes of clarification. While, under the provisions of the Bill as it stands, frontagers or developers could require the local roads authority to adopt a road made up or constructed to an acceptable standard, there has apparently been some degree of misapprehension about that on the part of the authorities. These amendments should leave no doubt in the matter.

Amendment No. 70 relates particularly to the road bond provision in the Bill and enables the regulations which may be made under clause 16 to clarify that the local roads authority will complete an unmade-up road for which a road bond has been deposited and take the completed road on to the list of public roads.

In regard to amendment No. 60, it has long been a statutory requirement in urban areas for roads which have been made up to a satisfactory standard to be taken on to the list of public roads. It is only right and proper that this should be so and that the requirement should apply in all areas. If a road is used by the public when it has been made up to standard at private expense, it is only equitable that it should subsequently be maintained by the local roads authority. In practice, nearly all roads are connected to the public road network either directly or by way of another private road that is open to public traffic. If not, they are unlikely to be defined as roads under the Bill and the question of their adoption will not arise. Where there is a public right of passage over a road and that road meets the required standards, I see no basis for exempting it from the statutory adoption requirements. Therefore, although I have listened carefully to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen), I am unable to commend amendment No. 60 to the Committee.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: No. 61, in page 15, line 6, leave out 'on' and insert 'if'.

No. 62, in page 15, line 6, after `application', insert 'is made'.

No. 63, in page 15, line 7, after `shall', insert 'within 12 months of the application'.

No. 64, in page 15, line 8, at end insert 'Provided that where the requirement mentioned in paragraph (a) above has been fulfilled by the authority under subsection (4) of the said section 13 or the work specified in the notice has been carried out or completed by them under subsection (5) thereof no such application shall be required and the authority shall add the road to the said list forthwith.

(1A) If, on completion of a private road constructed in accordance with a construction consent granted under section 20(3) of this Act, the person granted such consent applies, as respects the road, under this subsection to the local roads authority they shall within 12 months of the application add the road to their list of public roads.

(1B) Any dispute in relation to—

  1. (a)subsection (1) above, between the local roads authority and any frontager; or
  2. (b) subsection (1A) above, between that authority and a person applying (or purporting to apply) under that subsection, shall be determined by arbitration by a single arbiter appointed in default of agreement by the sheriff on the application of either party. '.

No. 65, in page 15, line 9, leave out 'subsection (1) above' and insert 'the foregoing provisions of this section'.

No. 66, in page 15, line 12, leave out 'those lands and heritages as' and insert 'the land fronting or abutting the road as it has'.

No. 67, in page 15, line 13, leave out 'lands and heritages' and insert 'land'.—[Mr. Allan Stewart.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Craigen

It would be helpful if the Minister could say something about several points that arise from clause 15. First, it frequently happens that a new estate develops on a phased basis, so initial roads can take a fairly hefty pounding from the heavy vehicles going in and out before the entire estate is completed. We do not want a situation where planning consent is necessarily regarded as a passport to the adoption of a road. Therefore, I hope that the Government will ensure that the roads department does not find itself in difficulty over the adoption of roads where planning consent has been given.

It is interesting that the Scottish Development Department had no estimate of the total mileage of roads in private ownership in Scotland. Given that this consolidation measure has reached this legislative stage, I should have thought that some calculation of private road mileage in Scotland would have been ascertained, particularly as a fair amount of private road mileage may well have to be adopted by the roads authorities in the coming years.

The Strathclyde regional council provisional order, which was prepared in November 1983, will in some ways come up against many of the provisions in the codified and innovatory legislation before the Committee this evening. Can the Minister comment on the status of the provisional order? Presumably it will go into cold storage now that the Bill is about to see its way on to the statute book. There is a concern, certainly in Strathclyde region, about the standard of work that might be required to upgrade certain roads and whether some builders will simply consider it sufficient to make a satisfactory road surface.

The case of Portavadie has been drawn to my attention. Will the region find itself in a position where, because frontagers request it, the roads authority has to take over a road system which has no functional use in strategic terms for the region? Will the Minister comment on the anxieties which have been expressed regarding the possibility that Strathclyde region will have to take over 35 miles of new roads at Coulport?

I apologise for having to bring the matter up at this late stage. It was only at lunchtime that I was given a message from the region's chief executive's department on the matter. There is considerable apprehension about additional costs that might well be incurred by Strathclyde region over the implications of certain parts of clause 5. I should be grateful if the Minister would attempt to clarify some of the points that I have mentioned.

Mr. Allan Stewart

I can confirm that this is a codifying clause. It codifies section 134 of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892.

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman on the point that he made about authorities having to take over roads of an unsatisfactory standard. The clause relates to private roads which have been brought up to a standard required by, or satisfactory to, the local authority. They would then become public roads.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that, in the nature of things, it is difficult to assess private road mileage because the roads are in private ownership.

On the Strathclyde provisional order, our view is that local statutes should not duplicate matters covered by public statutes. No case has been made for different provisions for Strathclyde region.

The hon. Gentleman acknowledged that the problem of Coulport had been put to him today. It has not been drawn to my attention previously, but I shall look into the point that he has made.

Mr. Home Robertson

I want to return to the constituency point that I raised earlier, to which clause 15 is perhaps more relevant. I should be grateful for an expression of view from the Minister on the rather curious incident of a private road, the proprietors of which would be quite happy to have taken over as a public road, but which has not been brought up to the requisite standard. Lothian regional council has imposed a weight restriction on a bridge which gives access to a road in the neighbourhood of the village of Gifford in East Lothian. That means that all traffic larger than an ordinary motor car has no option but to use the so-called private road. In those circumstances, as a private road has de facto become a public road, the roads authority is under at least a moral obligation to take over responsibility for its maintenance. As a basically more or less responsible person, I am sure the Minister will accept that. Unfortunately, in this instance the regional council has refused to do any such thing.

I have been in correspondence with the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), who has responsibility for such matters, and I confess to being a little less than satisfied with the replies that I have received. It is the usual story. The implication is that this is a matter for the local roads authority.

We now have an opportunity to clarify the situation. Clause 15 contains a provision that deals with applications for private roads to become public roads. I accept that the clause, as drafted, will not deal with a private road that is genuinely a private road being included in the responsibility of the roads authority. However, I am referring to what was admittedly originally a private road being turned into a public road, because of the action of the roads authority, and the roads authority is not prepared to accept the logic of its own actions and to take over the road. I hope that the Minister will express a view on that strange set of circumstances.

7 pm

Mr. Allan Stewart

The hon. Gentleman tempts me to comment on a matter about which I understand he is already in correspondence with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram). This is a matter for the roads authority, and the legislation will not be changed by clause 15.

I have taken advice on the final point that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) raised in relation to roads at Coulport. I am advised that the proposed roads on Ministry of Defence land will be not roads, but private accesses in terms of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Forward to