HL Deb 28 June 1989 vol 509 cc734-6

2.50 p.m.

Lord Carter asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they will take to deal with the situation whereby 200 people are killed and 500,000 people receive hospital treatment annually as the result of pavement accidents.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, in addition to keeping moving and parked vehicles off pavements, we propose to reform the law on reinstatement of street works. Pavements are for people.

Lord Carter

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware of the considerable concern on this matter that has been expressed by, among others, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Consumer Council in the excellent report What's Wrong With Walking. Are the Government prepared to demonstrate practical action and support by fully implementing Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974, by encouraging the police to enforce the law on illegal parking and by encouraging local authorities to enforce the by-laws relating to footways and footpaths?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, certainly we take seriously the matter of illegal parking on pavements. We have announced that the matter is being looked into. As regards street works, last month we announced proposals for legislation which will include better signing and guarding of works and new national standards for quality of reinstatement. We intend to introduce a Bill at the earliest opportunity.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, as someone who will become part of next year's statistics on this subject, I take a great interest in pavements. Would the noble Lord care to send one of his officials to the street that leads to Finchley Road Tube station? He will there see an appalling situation, with many pedestrians and a pavement that is beyond belief.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that pavement is the responsibility of the local authority, and it is for the local authority to keep its pavements in good order.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, in addition to the document referred to by my noble friend Lord Carter, has the Minister seen the policy document dealing with improving the pedestrian environment, which was issued by the three national local authority associations and published as recently as 13th June? This document contains numerous authentic photographs of obstructions on pavements. When the Government introduce the street works legislation arising from the Home Report, is it intended to deal also with any law that it may be necessary to clarify in regard to pavements? When the Government consider introducing their new simple guide to the law in conjunction with the Highway Code, will they bring into consultation the Pedestrians Association for Road Safety as well as the motoring bodies?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I have not seen the document to which the noble Lord referred that has been so recently published. I have no doubt that he will let me have a copy, as I see that he has the document in his hand.

We praise the pedestrians association for highlighting the difficulties faced by pedestrians. It took part in the debates on pedestrian safety at the conference "Positive Steps Forward" which was sponsored by Volvo, the Association of Municipal Engineers and the department which led to our pedestrian safety package of proposals.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, apart from the splendid new paving outside the House of Commons and the House of Lords, I calculated on a rough count this morning 107 cracked paving stones in Parliament Square, on over 35 of which one could stub one's toes?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on her research. I have to say, of course, that the pavements in this part of the world are the responsibility of Westminster City Council. Last year's national road maintenance condition survey showed a slight reduction in the number of footway defects over the previous year, but we certainly accept that there is still scope for improvement.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the damage done, not to but on the pavements, by dogs which defecate indiscriminately, and over which there is no control either by licensing or by registering?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords I congratulate my noble friend on his ingenuity in bringing in to this Question the subject of dog licences.