TRANSPORT secretary Grant Shapps has told the council leader making road conditions safer will continue to be prioritised after he expressed fears over smart motorways.

Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) penned a letter to Mr Shapps, in which he outlined his views on the current situation.

He said: “The council has noted the health and safety concerns which have been expressed by motoring organisations and the police regarding the new programme of development of smart motorways.

“These concerns include inadequate refuge facilities for stranded vehicles, the recent history of accidents – some of which have resulted in loss of life – and the technology factors that have meant that the motorway controllers are unable to take quick actions when there is a problem.

“The loss of the hard shoulder to allow an additional running lane adds to these concerns.

“Highways England recently notified the council of a new programme of works on the M6/M62 network, which passes through the Warrington borough area.

“I would therefore be grateful to have your reassurances on the new smart motorway programme roll-out, confirmation that you are satisfied with the mitigations in the Highways England risk assessments and that these schemes are capable of maintaining the highest standards of driver and public safety.”

Mr Shapps thanked Cllr Bowden for his letter on the issue.

In response, he said: “We want our roads to be as safe as possible.

“That is why I asked my department to carry out an evidence stocktake to gather the facts about the safety of smart motorways and make recommendations.

“The department will present the findings of the stocktake shortly.

“While I would not want to pre-judge the results of that work, what I can say is that we will continue to prioritise improving safety – making conditions safer for everyone on our roads.”

Highways England is the Government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving England’s motorways and major A roads.

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