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REMORSELESS RISE IN TRAFFIC UNABATED - FOSTER

July 31, 2003 5:08 PM
Don Foster MP for Bath

Don Foster MP

Latest Government figures show a remorseless rise in vehicle traffic on Britain's roads in 2002 compared with 2001, according to the Department for Transport.

In 1997, John Prescott said, "I will have failed in this if in five years there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car. It is a tall order, but I want to hold me to it."

The Road Traffic Statistics for Britain 2002 show:

· Car traffic levels rose by 2.6 per cent.

· Two-wheeled motor vehicle traffic rose more than other categories with motorcycle traffic seeing a rise of 5.5 per cent.

· Motorway traffic rose by 1.9 per cent.

· Traffic on minor roads rose by 4 per cent.

Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary, said:

"John Prescott's five years are up, and traffic is up. This shows just how worthless a pledge from Labour is.

"The Government have failed, by their own standards, to tackle the remorseless rise of car traffic.

"Alastair Darling must realise that the Government cannot simply build its way out of congestion.

"The only solution to reducing car traffic is to provide safe, reliable and affordable public transport."

ENDS (See Notes to Editors)

Notes to Editors

1. The Department for Transport Report Road Traffic Statistics for Britain: 2002, published today, reveals that estimated traffic levels rose by 2.6 per cent between 2001 and 2002.

2. On 6th June 1997, The Guardian reported that the Deputy Prime Minister, and then Secretary of State for Transport, John Prescott MP had said:

"I will have failed in this if in five years there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car. It is a tall order, but I want to hold me to it."

On 20th October 1998, Tom Brake MP quoted the pledge and asked Mr Prescott if he would reassure MPs that "the Government will keep their election promises and reduce traffic levels overall, not merely the growth in traffic?"

Mr. Prescott confirmed the pledge.

"The hon. Gentleman quoted both the question and the answer and I agree to keep to that commitment: judge my performance in five years."

On 18th November 1999, Don Foster MP again quoted the promise and asked

"The right hon. Gentleman's clear intention was to reduce the absolute number of journeys taken by car. I shall be grateful if he intervenes to confirm that he intends to hold to that promise."

Mr. Prescott did intervene to say he was on the way to meeting the pledge

"I am happy to respond and to tell the hon. Gentleman that the process is already under way. In the past two years, more people have started to use public transport, which is the first stage of achieving our goal ... I readily set the target for myself and I am glad that we are on the way to achieving it."