HC Deb 13 May 1985 vol 79 c7
5. Mr. Nicholas Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many bypasses around historic towns have now been completed since 1979.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Michael Spicer)

We are engaged on a massive bypass programme. Since 1 January 1980, 161 communities have been bypassed, including 44 historic towns. Schemes to bypass another 326 communities, including 97 historic towns, are planned.

Mr. Baker

Is my hon. Friend aware of the benefits of such bypasses to the people and the buildings in historic towns—such as Blandford in my constituency, where a bypass opened recently—and to those wishing to travel around those places? Will he accept my congratulations on that programme and will he ensure that it is extended to other historic towns?

Mr. Spicer

I can certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance. There is an upsurge in the building of bypasses, especially those around historic towns.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

I welcome the progress that is being made. Is my hon. Friend aware that much-needed improvements to the Lincoln bypass are going ahead well, with construction appearing to be on schedule? Does he agree that roads which bypass other than historic towns are also important, and will he report on progress on that front, too?

Mr. Spicer

I am glad that the scheme to which my hon. Friend referred is going well. The split between bypasses of historic towns and other areas is reasonably even. The plans show that of 118 communities to be bypassed, 31 are historic towns. We have currently completed 72, of which 24 are historic towns.

Mr. Key

I congratulate the Department's bypass priorities, which, we hope, will give us in Salisbury a chance to look afresh at our coach park problem. Will my hon. Friend bear in mind, however, that this is a particularly sensitive area of policy and that when it is said that there will be a bypass, there should indeed be one? Is he aware that my constituents, who are concerned with the beauty of the countryside, have lately been told, when telephoning the Department's office in Bristol, that the Salisbury bypass may not, after all, happen because of the cost-benefit analysis that is being pursued?

Mr. Spicer

We publish our programmes for bypasses. Thereafter, the decision to build a bypass is subject to the statutory procedures.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Has the Minister seen the Civic Trust assessment, which says that the Government have dealt with only 25 per cent. of the necessary bypasses? Is he satisfied that the Department is producing the results that will save our historic cities and villages?

Mr. Spicer

The progress towards building trunk road schemes in connection with bypasses is now extremely rapid. The figure to which the hon. Lady referred will be out of date in the coming two years.