Safety on the A34 was highlighted in Parliament today as the subject of a Westminster Hall debate. Richard Benyon and Ed Vaizey, two of the MPs campaigning for improvements following the horrific accidents on the road during the summer, had pushed for this debate and were delighted to see it on the agenda.
As well as speaking about the increasingly urgent issue of safety on this road, Ed Vaizey also raised the economic case for improvements, quoting from the Local Enterprise Partnerships and from the Road Haulage Association confirming that delays and accidents are costing British business millions of pounds in time and goods every year.
He said, ‘The A34 is a strategic and crucial part of our transport network which is not fit for purpose. First, it is extremely dangerous. There have been 2,040 accidents in the last 22 years. In the last 4 months there have been 2 fatal accidents. One of these claimed the lives of 4, including 3 children. Action is long overdue.'
‘The need to urgently improve road safety would alone justify significant investment and time from the Department for Transport and Highways England. But the second point I wish to make is that the pressure on the A34 is having a significant impact on our economy.’
He quoted from a joint letter from Thames Valley Berkshire and Oxfordshire LEPs which states that problems on the A34 are significantly impacting economic growth in the region: ‘We believe that the existing A34 highway infrastructure is not fit for purpose now, let alone for the medium term. In this regard, we urge the DfT to identify a funding stream to support immediate investment.’
Richard Benyon, unable to attend the debate in person as he is abroad on Parliamentary business this week, commented, ‘This road is a major north-south arterial route and is overloaded and unsafe. With the number of new houses and new jobs planned for this area, the volume of traffic is set to increase exponentially over the next decade. It is time to take action now.
‘I am pleased that this issue is being aired in Parliament and we will continue to put pressure on all the relevant authorities to get something done as soon as possible.’