Yvonne Fovargue MP: Smart motorways put lives at risk

Makerfield MP Yvonne FovargueMakerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Smart motorways are a technology-driven approach to tackling the most congested parts of the motorway network.

One type of smart motorway is All Lane Running (ALR), where there is no hard shoulder and the only safe areas for vehicles to stop are emergency refuge areas (ERAs).

Of the 375 miles of smart motorways in England, 235 do not have a hard shoulder.

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ALR motorways raise real safety concerns due to the lack of hard shoulders and the number of ERAs. 38 people have died on smart motorways between 2014 and 2019.

Last year, it was reported that up to one in 10 smart motorway safety cameras were either broken, misted up or facing the wrong way.

In November, the Transport Committee recommended that the smart motorway rollout should be paused until five years of safety and economic data is available and safety improvements have been delivered and independently evaluated.

Currently, the M6 corridor between Warrington and Wigan is set to have ALR and I remain very concerned that the Government are pressing ahead with this scheme considering the concerns raised.

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I have urged the Transport Minister to look again at this current scheme. I am urging the Government to reinstate the hard shoulder on smart motorways while the Transport Committee recommendations can be carried out.

Smart Motorways in their current form, coupled with inadequate safety systems, are not fit for purpose and are putting lives at risk.

The situation in Ukraine should be a concern for all of us. Britain is supplying Ukraine with short-range anti-tank missiles for self-defence after Russia amassed about 100,000 troops on its border.

This crisis is made in the Kremlin.

Ukraine’s independence and borders were guaranteed by Russia, alongside the US and the UK, in the 1994 Budapest agreement under which Ukraine also decommissioned its nuclear weapons, then making the whole of Europe much safer.

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Russian deployment is anything but routine. Russian soldiers are equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles and short-range ballistic missiles.

I fully back the steps Britain is taking on international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate threats, on defensive support for the Ukraine military, on necessary institutional reforms within the country, and on tough economic and financial sanctions in response to any fresh Russian invasion into Ukraine.

The Salisbury attack, in which Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, resulted in two officers from Wiltshire police also being poisoned with the same agent.

Two members of the public were also exposed to Novichok.

Tragically, one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died. This was a state sponsored attack on UK soil.

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I believe these events underline the continuing importance of the NATO alliance as fundamental for our security in the 21st century.

These are dangerous days for security in Europe - especially for the Ukrainian people.

Even at this 11th hour, I hope deeply that diplomacy, sound judgment and respect for international law will prevail with President Putin.

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