The CPRE Lecture: Patrick McLoughlin on Rural Transport

Yesterday Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, gave the CPRE Lecture at the London Transport Museum. It was a very good event, with about 100 people attending and a lively question and answer session. I was impressed that the Secretary of State addressed every question he was asked – though that’s not quite the same thing as answering them.

One of the main reasons for holding these lectures is to give a leading politician a reason to engage with CPRE’s concerns, and I was very pleased to hear Patrick McLoughlin talk about rural roads and road safety, HS2, roadside clutter, and other issues. The speech is well worth reading. It’s not on the DfT website yet but an edited version can be found here. Please add your comments, and we are hoping that Patrick McLoughlin will respond in a couple of weeks’ time.

The Secretary of State’s detestation of unnecessary and distracting road clutter has got most coverage. He criticised ‘those “temporary” signs saying “New Road Layout Ahead” that are left to rot for years.’ He went on:

‘Near me in Derbyshire there’s an ugly big sign by a beautiful medieval church that just says: “No Footpath”. It’s on a small country lane. Of course there isn’t a path. We don’t need a huge sign to tell us that. So I’m determined to do more to sort this out.’

That’s very welcome. It’s not an easy task and I hope he’ll stay in the job long enough to make a difference – and I hope he will have a word with his colleagues at CLG to encourage them to tackle roadside adverts, which are equally ugly and distracting.

For the coverage of the clutter story, see the Daily Mail  or listen to You and Yours.

One last point.  The Secretary of State made a veiled plea for environmentalists to think twice before opposing new roads in the countryside.  Without quite saying so, he implied that things would be better now than they were in the ‘80s and ‘90s – quieter road surfaces, better engineering etc.  I am not convinced, and nor were the couple of people who questioned the justification for the new Bexhill to Hastings link road, which has King Harold turning in his grave.  Some 800 miles of new roads are being proposed by Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the Treasury seems determined to support them.

We want to work with Patrick McLoughlin, but we will oppose a new road-building programme.  If you agree with us, please tell him:

1 Response to “The CPRE Lecture: Patrick McLoughlin on Rural Transport”

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