Transport Infrastructure: Devon and Somerset

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 4:00 pm ar 23 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ian Liddell-Grainger Ian Liddell-Grainger Ceidwadwyr, Bridgwater and West Somerset 4:00, 23 Ebrill 2024

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered roads and other transport infrastructure in Devon and Somerset.

May I say how nice it is to serve under a Devon MP of great standing and long service, who knows his county better than most of us? I am delighted to be able to make this speech.

When talking about our constituents in Westminster Hall, it is rare that we are able to talk cross border. The Tiverton and Minehead seat, as you now know, Mr Streeter, is new and will cross the boundary of Devon and Somerset. This is a good chance for us to discuss my memories from my days as the Member for Torridge and West Devon before my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Cox—we were talking about potholes then, and that was 1997.

When digging around on Google and many of these other things—which I confess not to completely understand —I discovered just how contentiously difficult potholes are. I did not know, but pothole sizes and potholes in the road have names. I know this sounds interesting, so I will read some of them out: The Canyon—I think we can work that one out; The Alligator, a little more tricky; The Sniper; The Slalom; and The Alcatraz. There are many more named on a website. On discovering a pothole, the Minister, my hon. Friend Guy Opperman, when he is up in Hexham, can look it up and say, “Ah! There’s an Alligator,” or, “There is Alcatraz”—up in Northumberland, that is the wall.

It is intriguing: this has become a sort of national sport. In Devon, there is a Facebook page called “Devon Potholes”. It is fascinating how incensed people are by something that should really be simple to solve. Recently, in Watchet, which is in the Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency as it currently is, a little bit of private road had not been done up—because it was private—and the Daily Mail actually filled in the potholes to help a 101-year-old get in and out of their house. That is the national view of potholes.

I will give some of these ghastly statistics—which is what we all live by in this place—taking Devon first. In 2019, there were around 50,000 reported potholes, of which they claim to have repaired 50,000—I find that convenient, like all local government statistics. In 2022, there were 34,000—so there has been a reduction—of which they claim to have repaired 32,150. Okay, I hear what they say: given that we drive around the roads of Devon, I dare say this is possibly not as straightforward as it may seem.