By the time you read this the second Road Traffic Reduction Bill will have gone to parliament. It is due to be heard on 30 January. As we mentioned previously, it is being promoted by Plaid Cymru MP Cynog Dafis, and the Bill has very widespread support in the Commons – in the last year 419 MPs (out of 659) have indicated their support in one way or another. The new Bill reinstates the national targets that were dropped from the 1997 Act in order to secure the previous Government’s support.
However, the Bill’s success is not assured because it does not have time allocated to it by the new Government. Therefore any MP who feels perverse enough can ‘talk out’ the Bill – by making an inordinately long speech. This seems a highly undemocratic process, but that’s the way the Commons works.
In the meantime, roads minister Glenda Jackson has started the wheels rolling of last year’s legislation, by issuing draft guidance to local authorities on how they should prepare their traffic reduction plans. This is generally available for comment, and we shall consider whether we should do so.
One of the key points is that local authorities are told to canvass local people’s opinions on what to put in their plan. The ‘possible effects of the targets on the local environment and economy’ combined with the possibility that a traffic reduction plan may only seek to limit growth, leaves a lot of scope for wriggling out of the spirit of the Act.