13 February 1998

Andrew Dinsmore MP (Lab. Hendon)

The growth in road traffic has caused our country many problems. Congestion causes delay, which has an impact on the economy. Pollution has an effect on people's health. Health problems arise also through lack of exercise. Road safety issues arise. In Barnet, for example, there are 2,000 personal injury road traffic accidents every year.

We need clear strategies and targets. There is a need for strategic targets both locally and nationally. Barnet council has been responding to the wishes of residents in developing a clear transport strategy, and one is certainly needed. An Association of London Government survey was conducted in the area in 1996, which showed that 26 per cent. of local residents were concerned about traffic levels.

Barnet council held a conference a couple of years ago, called the Barnet 2000 conference, which considered where the area should be headed by the millennium. The conference repeatedly stressed the importance of setting targets for traffic reduction. That strategy went out to consultation last summer, and it goes to the full council next week for final approval.

We must tackle not only the problems caused by traffic, but the social inequalities created by car ownership. The centralisation of facilities — shopping centres, hospitals and schools — has generated more traffic, as well as increasing social inequality. There are 120,000 cars in Barnet and 20 per cent. of families have two cars or more, but 30 per cent. have no access to a car at all.

I shall conclude with extracts from a letter to the Government Office for London from Mr. Franklin, the chairman of the Brent Cross residents association, which he has copied to me. The letter, from a resident who lives near those very busy roundabouts, states:

"For the past 20 years and more we have had to suffer ever increasing problems from traffic, noise, dust and pollution. People who have chosen to live in quiet, suburban roads and avenues have seen them transformed into traffic rat-runs and parking nightmares . . .

On any weekday Hendon Way is solid with traffic, and we now experience jams on Sunday afternoons . . .

Everyone acknowledges the need to curtail traffic, as one means of reducing the effects of pollution, and no doubt appropriate legislation is anticipated."

I am pleased to say that I consider the Road Traffic Reduction (United Kingdom Targets) Bill to be the start of that legislation. I willingly lend it my support on behalf of my constituents and the residents in my area, such as Mr. Franklin.

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