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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Meg to raise M1 safety concerns with Minister

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sheffield Heeley MP, Meg Munn, is leading a delegation of MPs from South Yorkshire at a meeting in Westminster with Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, today to discuss proposals to turn the hard shoulder of the M1 in the county into a live lane 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The meeting is taking place between Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport, Meg Munn MP and representatives from South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, South Yorkshire Police and the Highways Agency, along with a number of South Yorkshire MPs who have also raised concerns over the proposals.

Proposals to monitor and control for incidents through CCTV, which may not give 100% coverage, and worries that a vehicle that loses power will not be able to reach a refuge and will have to stop in a live lane, are just two of the safety concerns which the MP plans to raise.  The minister acknowledged in a recent letter to Meg Munn MP that:  “it will not be possible for every [CCTV] image to be monitored 24/7”.  The Highways Agency has also said that “where verge areas are not protected by safety barriers it will be possible for vehicles that are breaking down to move into the verge as occurs currently on A-roads”.

Meg said:

I welcome the opportunity to lead a delegation from South Yorkshire to meet the minister and discuss our safety concerns with him directly.  As the minister is aware, I am particularly concerned over the increased risk for drivers of vehicles that break down at night on what used to be the hard shoulder, as this would then be a live lane.  Moving your car onto a verge on much of the M1 is not a realistic safety option. 

I am, however, glad an environmental assessment is now being done but there are a number of additional safety concerns about the proposals which my colleagues will wish to put to the minister. This meeting gives us all the chance to have a sensible discussion about the government’s proposals for the M1 in South Yorkshire.”

South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership is also concerned at the changes and South Yorkshire Police has said that they “could cost lives.”

The proposals would be implemented by the Highways Agency, an arm of the Department for Transport, as part of a ‘managed motorway all lanes running’ scheme.  This would see the hard shoulder become a permanent live lane with refuge areas for broken down cars to await rescue.  It would also see new roadside signs and new CCTV put in place to alert drivers to dangers ahead and changes to the speed limit at times of congestion.  

Proposals to use the hard shoulder during rush hours have been shown to reduce journey times, ease congestion for drivers and reduce accidents.  Meg Munn MP would like to see changes to the proposed scheme, so that the hard shoulder was used during rush hours only, but not at other times. 

Consultation on the proposals took place over an eight week period, which included over the Christmas period.  The Highways Agency have yet to publish the results of the consultation but are saying the scheme will go ahead in 2013/14 once the environmental assessment is completed.  They have dismissed a number of safety concerns that the MPs have raised, whilst still acknowledging that the risk of a vehicle stopping in a live lane would increase by 200%.

Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, recently announced a delay to the work to the South Yorkshire section of the M1 to allow an environmental assessment to be finalised.  The decision followed a debate in parliament called by Sheffield Heeley MP, Meg Munn.

For details about the debate visit:  http://www.megmunnmp.org.uk/press-view-entry.asp?type=Views&id=443

 


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