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Northern Ireland Assembly

Monday 2 April 2001 (continued)

Mr Durkan:

Obviously, the Member regularly has to sit in traffic jams in Toome, as do the Minister for Regional Development and myself. That is all pure coincidence - [Interruption] - and we just feel sorry for everybody else that we see there. It is important to our infrastructure, and I hope that it will make a difference to the road between the two cities.

We want to see a significant development of telecoms. The House has shown its interest in and commitment to significant extension of gas pipelines. In both those areas, proposals must come from the private sector. Sir Reg Empey, as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, is taking a close interest and is working hard on those matters. There are, at present, no proposals that would justify the allocation of funds, so we have retained the flexibility to consider any more proposals that emerge. Any subsequent decisions will be subject to all the normal appraisals.

Mr S Wilson:

Given the question mark over the behaviour of the Minister of Education - especially in relation to the allocation of capital funding in the past two years - I welcome the Minister's assurance that all bids have been carefully scrutinised.

However, looking at the small print in the infrastructure fund - wherein the Minister says that some of the projects financed will require further financing in the fourth year - I am dismayed that there is an imbalance yet again in capital spending between schools that cater mostly for the Roman Catholic population and those that cater mostly for the Protestant population, in a ratio of 10:1. The Minister said in his statement that that is a result of

"each of these being of top priority within the schools planning lists."

Can he assure the House, first, that he has seen those planning lists; secondly, that the projects listed here are top of those planning lists; and thirdly, that he has assured himself that these funds are not being used once again by the Minister of Education as a party political election fund, as his previous allocations were?

Mr Durkan:

The Executive are satisfied that in making these allocations in respect of the schools capital programme, we are supporting the improvement in schools capital by taking action to reduce the number of mobile classrooms and so on - all the things that the Education Committee would like to see us do, and that the Executive wants to do. We are doing that on a basis of priority need. That is a fact. We did not manufacture how particular schools have come to fall in a particular sequence of priority need. It is there and it is real.

In many ways, what the argument raises is not just that there are other needs in other schools - clearly there are - but that there is a need for much more money in this whole area. That is one of the reasons why we are trying to seek more money in relation to the Barnett formula. I saw the schools that would have been next on the list and, even if we had some significant extra money in this tranche and were able to allocate it to schools, the presentational or perception issue that the Member seems to be identifying would still have existed.

The Executive had to take decisions on the basis of need. We set down very clearly that targeting social need, meeting need and disadvantage, and equality considerations would be key considerations in the use of the Executive programme funds. We clearly could not discriminate against need just because people raised obvious presentational concerns.

Mr Maskey:

Go raibh maith agat, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not want to rehearse any of the arguments made earlier by Francie Molloy, the Chairperson of the Finance and Personnel Committee. As a member of that Committee, I share Mr Molloy's views.

I welcome the fact that 62 projects will be supported by these funds. I thank the Minister for his words. Some of these projects would have been ongoing issues, and the purpose of the funds is to be more strategic and long-term. I welcome the Minister's commitment to try to influence the Executive to work on that strategic basis in the long term. I understand why the funds have been allocated in such a way.

The Minister states that the Barnett formula disadvantages this area. I would like a commitment - I know that the Minister has already done this in the past, but I want a further commitment - that this continuing problem of underfunding will continue to be challenged by the Executive.

I welcome the fact that money is being allocated to public-private partnership initiatives in order to ensure that all avenues of funding can be properly explored.

Mr Durkan:

I appreciate the frustration that the Member has registered as a member of the Finance and Personnel Committee. We need to ensure that we make best use of these funds, and we need to develop our whole approach to them. I hope that we will have positive encouragement from Members - frustrations notwithstanding - and the co-operation and good counsel of Committees as we set about doing that in the future.

We need to make sure that we make the best use of all funds, not just the Executive programme funds, but also the main Department funds. We also need to make sure that we maximise the resources available to us, and that will include trying to make improvements on the Barnett formula, a task which is not going to be easy or straightforward. We have a very clear view of the difficulty with the Barnett formula. Unfortunately, there are others who do not have the same clear view of the problem and are approaching it from a different starting point. Therefore, we need to build a case there.

We also need to make sure that, where we can marshal additional resources and find better means of managing some of the pressures of private finance initiatives and public-private partnerships, we do so. Some Departments have been examining and developing different ways of doing that, and such activity is to be encouraged. There are no easy answers, and the Treasury's rules and interpretations need to be considered, because certain actions can count as borrowing. We need to address these issues, and that is one reason for making an allocation from the Executive programme funds to allow the Executive and all the relevant Departments to have a concentrated means of making progress on these matters.

Mr Hussey:

I thank the Minister for his statement, and, like others, I welcome the overall concept of the fund. However, I want to look briefly at substance and at some of the processes involved. Does the Minister agree that there could be a perceived lack of location- specific projects for the west and north-west of Northern Ireland? He referred to the A4 project, which, he said, extends from Dungannon to Enniskillen. It is listed in the funding section as extending from Dungannon to Ballygawley. Is there perhaps an attempt to avoid highlighting the fact that the west and north-west have been left out? Perhaps we should wait and see how the various general funding is applied to those areas left out of the location-specific funding.

On the subject of process, and in response to the Chairperson of the Social Development Committee, the Minister said that its problems were not his responsibility. Surely he must accept responsibility for the fact that the Finance and Personnel Committee was not notified in January that this process had been initiated. We were not given time - we were not notified that the process had come into being at the end of January in the Departments.

I realise that I have to finish, so I will end with this point. Officials gave the Finance and Personnel Committee evidence to the effect that there was not sufficient time to prepare schemes properly for inclusion in the bids for allocation. This meant - and this goes back to where I started -

Madam Deputy Speaker:

Will the Member come to the point of his question, please.

Mr Hussey:

- that capital projects were not included in the bids.

Mr Durkan:

First, I do not accept that the west or the north-west areas are not benefiting from these allocations. The region as a whole will benefit. Some proposals are locality-specific, others have more strategic, regional significance. For example, while expenditure on the Toome bypass is locality-specific to Toome and its immediate surroundings, the project has significance for a much wider area.

On the issue of residential childcare places, we will be looking across the whole region. There are also some provisions which, although they result in investment in a particular location, such as the medium-secure unit, are designed to provide much needed services across the community. As someone who served on the Western Health and Social Services council, I, along with others, had been pressing for the provision of a medium-secure unit here and for residential childcare places. In my view these announcements do not bypass those who have needs in the west and the north-west in particular.

5.15 pm

We said, both in the House and elsewhere, that we hoped to make allocations from the Executive programme funds before we got to the Main Estimates. We always said that we would make allocations at this stage. That was never a secret - it was communicated to people.

The Committee for Finance and Personnel was notified some time ago of the Department of Finance and Personnel's own particular bids for Executive programme funds. My regret and concern is that those making the other bids did not make similar notification, as I believe they should have. That is why I make the point that I made earlier. We want to make sure that there is just one system of "green for go", rather than try to interpret a whole series of different lights from different Committees. We will try to improve that in the future.

The Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure (Mr ONeill):

I welcome the Minister's statement and congratulate him. He demonstrates, more and more, that he stands at the centre of this Administration. He proves that the Good Friday Agreement and its institutions are working for all our people.

As Committee Chairman, I must welcome the good news for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure - both the plan to buy out the commercial salmon netting licences, which I am very keen on from the Committee's point of view, and the other moneys. I particularly welcome the creativity seed funding element, which covers four Departments. It is a very good example of a cross-cutting activity, despite what some people have already tried to demonstrate.

Has it something to do with the way a Department presents its budget claim for these particular funds? Have some of the Departments done that inadequately? Can the Minister expand on how the cross-cutting process works in this round of allocation? What are the plans for the future? Does he agree that this is further evidence of the need for collective decision-making involving all parties to the Executive?

Mr Durkan:

I am particularly glad that, as Chairperson of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, the Member welcomes the fact that we have been able to fund a measure that that Committee has advocated. He has raised the issue of buying out the salmon licences several times in the Chamber, both in relation to the Budget and to various monitoring round allocations.

The welcome for the creativity seed fund is not just important for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. It can also have a positive impact on employment and regeneration. We know that uplifts in cultural activity can be central to regeneration across the region.

I hesitate to comment on comparative analysis about how Departments have approached those particular funds or bids. I stress that any bids that have not been awarded Executive programme fund allocation at this stage are not, in themselves, bad or unworthy bids. They are not matters that do not need support or attention. It is just that, given the availability of resources, we could not cover everything. We had to decide on the best projects to match the particular criteria. We also had to examine the overall spread for the different funds. I hope that, notwithstanding the disappointments, we have achieved that.

It is a learning experience for all of us - the Executive and the Departments. In the future, we want to see Departments making even stronger and more clearly defined bids of their own, but we also want to see Departments working with one another to develop strong bids that have a clear, strategic impact across Government and on the entire region.

The Minister for Regional Development (Mr Campbell):

I welcome the outcome of some of the bids that I, as Minister for Regional Development, made for flood prevention and road schemes, including the Toome bypass, under the infrastructure fund. Does the Minister agree that when I was dealing with oral questions today I did not reveal the outcome of the bid or what he was going to say, despite the fact that I was in possession of an advance copy of his statement and that one of the questions was about the Toome bypass?

Mr Durkan:

I am glad that the Minister welcomes the decision made by the Executive Committee, and I am sure that he and his officials will use the moneys that have been allocated to the Department for Regional Development for roads and flood prevention. He informs me that he used discretion earlier. I appreciate that - I am not entirely surprised.

Ms Gildernew:

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I welcome the Minister's statement, but I am extremely disappointed with the figures for the Department for Social Development - it has fared very badly in this round. I am aware that the Housing Executive put in bids that were not met. We could have been more creative in addressing the needs of those suffering from fuel poverty.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr McClelland] in the Chair)

I welcome the £0·2 million that will be given to the peripheral housing estates in Derry. However, there are inner city estates in Derry, such as the Bogside, Brandywell, Creggan and the Diamond, that are also experiencing deprivation and disadvantage. It is well documented that poor housing impacts on health, education, mental health and social exclusion, yet the entire Department only received £1·46 million over three years.

I agree with other Members that there has been a lack of consultation with the scrutinising Committees. There is no point in rehashing the points that have been made very well by my Colleagues. The funding that has been allocated to Social Development raises the question of whether the Department would have done better had the Minister for Social Development been in the Executive. Go raibh maith agat.

Mr Durkan:

Many Members have mentioned matters that they feel should have been funded or supported, but which were not the subject of bids. It is difficult enough, when we do not have sufficient resources, to satisfy everybody by meeting bids that have been made, but it is very hard to satisfy people by meeting bids that have not been made. I recognise some of the problems that have been discussed, such as fuel poverty, but no bid was made for that area. However, some of the issues were covered previously by the Budget and so there should not necessarily have been a bid for fuel poverty.

The funds have been concentrated on the peripheral estates in Derry because those estates did not benefit from other moneys that have been managed by the Department for Social Development in programmes such as the urban initiative and the Londonderry regeneration initiative. That is why that particular bid was met.

Significant funds have been allocated to support work - not only by the Department for Social Development but also by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Rural Community Network - in respect of various estates across the region where there is a lack of community-based organisations. The funding is to try to fill some of the gaps. The Department for Social Development is working with other Departments and is trying to make a difference. It has made bids for projects that are outside of, or beyond, some of the activity that is being undertaken.

The Chairperson of the Committee for Education (Mr Kennedy):

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak. I give a broad welcome to the additional funding allocated to the education projects that are indicated in the Minister's statement. The Education Committee was pleased to consider and comment on the bids submitted by the Department of Education, but I want to highlight the lack of time that was provided to undertake effective consideration.

The Committee was pleased to see that several of the early intervention bids had been successful in attracting some, if not all, of the requested funding, including funds for children with learning difficulties and to increase reading recovery work. Although I am pleased that capital building projects have attracted funding, I must express my personal concern regarding the apparent imbalance in the capital funding allocated to the controlled sector in recent years. I believe that that imbalance is reflected in the announcement. There is an obvious and urgent need for capital funding in all of the school sectors.

Consideration must be given to the allocation of capital funding on a fair and equitable basis in each sector. Can the Minister explain how the schools named in the statement were selected? I have a list of contenders originally provided by the Department of Education that confirms that the contenders that the Minister named today were in a list dated January 2001 under projects that were insufficiently planned. They have qualified for funding today before some of those schools that were ready and on the starting block for the original announcement but missed out. Will the Minister give due consideration to that? I am sorry that the Minister of Education is not here, but I think that this is a very serious issue, and I am not entirely satisfied that the controlled sector has been adequately or fairly treated.

Mr Durkan:

The Executive agreed the allocations on the basis of work that had been done not just by the Department of Education but by the Department of Finance and Personnel, the Economic Policy Unit and the Equality Unit to ensure that the recommendations that were announced were entirely consistent with New TSN and equality considerations. Given the limited allocations that could be made from the fund for schools infrastructure, the schools that received allocations are those that were high contenders. There were other high contenders that could have received allocations if there had been more money, but, as I said earlier, with that sort of shortlist, some of the presentational concerns that have been raised would not necessarily have been assuaged.

We must allocate on the basis of need. We will get into difficulty if we decide to allocate on how things look, or on how things appear, rather than on the basis of objective need. I often get the question from this side of the House that not enough allocations are going to particular areas, and why is money going to some areas that reinforces previous spending patterns and not enough going to other areas? We cannot manage these things by appearances and impressions. If we are in the business of Government we must manage by objective need and by objective criteria, and that has been done.

We could not discriminate against need because of the obvious presentational concern that has arisen, which we were able to anticipate. However, we would have been breaching serious principles if we had tried to come to a different allocation purely on the basis of the impressions that some people might have.

5.30 pm

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment (Ms Hanna):

I acknowledge the limitation on the funds available and the time constraints for development of departmental projects. I am aware of the relationship between the environment and health and, indeed, between the environment and tourism and encouraging new investment. Can the Minister assure me that environmental and sustainable development projects will be given greater priority in future allocations?

Mr Durkan:

The Department of the Environment has one allocation, like the Department of Finance and Personnel, and that one allocation is for road safety. The Executive are very supportive of the consultation exercise that the Minister of the Environment, Mr Foster, has undertaken as the latest in a series of initiatives. The seriousness of the problem was again brought home to us at the weekend.

As regards wider environmental issues and sustainability, some of the allocations that have been made in respect of agriculture have a strong environmental dimension - for example, farm waste management and measures to reduce phosphorisation of water. Both are very significant in environmental terms and were issues that were pursued by the Minister of the Environment at the environmental sectoral meetings of the North/South Ministerial Council.

Mr Shannon:

A sum of £1·4 million has been set aside for early intervention for children with learning disabilities. Was that the full amount of money requested by that Department? Is the Minister prepared to make available a copy of all submitted requests for financial assistance from each Department, along with a copy of requests that were successful?

Did the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development request assistance for the tie-up scheme, that the House unanimously supported last Tuesday? Of the £2·75 million that has been set aside and could be used for a possible fishing decommissioning scheme, how much will actually be granted for decommissioning?

Mr Deputy Speaker:

Mr Shannon, if you expect an answer you will have to be brief.

Minister, please be brief.

Mr Durkan:

There is no secret about the bids that were submitted. Many Committees have received details of the bids as submitted by their Departments. We will try to resolve the issues that have been mentioned today concerning differential timing and level of information to Committees.

It must be remembered that the bids are the property of the Departments making the bids. They are not the property of the Department of Finance and Personnel. That is something that must be clarified so that in future we do not have these glitches. Most Committees have available to them the information about all the bids that were submitted, and we are making no secret of the fact that there have been many unsuccessful bids.

The further moneys that are being referred to as being held over for February monitoring fall for future allocation by the Executive and will depend on the proposals that the Executive have and the prevailing pressures at that time.

Mr Deputy Speaker:

The time is up.

Mr Kennedy:

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that I and other Members had the opportunity to question the Minister of Finance and Personnel on this important announcement, but I would like to express some alarm that an announcement of this nature should be made so late in the afternoon business of the Assembly and allocated just one hour. That is unsatisfactory.

Mr Deputy Speaker:

That was not a valid point of order. As I told the Member's Colleague, the Member for West Tyrone (Mr Hussey), last week, the allocation of time for any item of business is at the discretion of the Business Committee, not the Speaker. If the Member wishes to raise the matter with his party Whip, he is free to do so.


Private Notice Question: Road Safety

Ms Morrice

asked the Minister for Regional Development, in the light of the high number of deaths on the roads over recent weeks, to detail the measures that the Roads Service is taking to address the urgent need to improve road safety.

The Minister for Regional Development (Mr Campbell):

I am sure that the whole House will join with me in expressing sympathy to the families and friends of those killed in road accidents at the weekend. My Department is fully committed to the fight to improve road safety in Northern Ireland.

There are three vital aspects to reducing the number of road traffic casualties, and they are commonly referred to as the three Es: education, enforcement and engineering. For education, the road safety branch of the Department of the Environment seeks, through its high-profile road safety publicity campaigns, to change the attitude and behaviour of road users by informing them of the main causes of road traffic death and injury. Then there is enforcement: the RUC will enforce the law in relation to traffic offences. The third is engineering, which includes the provision of traffic-calming and accident remedial measures by my Department's Roads Service.

During 2001 the Roads Service expects to spend £3 million on road safety engineering measures, allowing traffic-calming schemes and accident remedial measures to be implemented. In recognition of the need to improve road safety for vulnerable road users in urban streets, the Roads Service has allocated steadily increasing resources to traffic-calming measures since the programme began in 1990. In the current financial year, £1·4 million was allocated. As I said some weeks ago, I hope to make a further significant announcement on traffic calming before the Easter recess.

Several of the Roads Service's other activities also contribute to improving road safety, including major works, traffic management, structural maintenance, street lighting, private streets and development control. The Roads Service has been assisting the Department of the Environment's road safety branch to prepare a road safety strategy consultation document. I understand that the Department of the Environment will shortly seek a wide range of views on a new road safety target and road safety strategy for Northern Ireland up to 2010.

Official RUC statistics show that the vast majority of accidents are caused by human error and behaviour. The road environment is a contributing factor in very few accidents. Although my Department will continue to make the public road network safer, it is important that each of us -as drivers, riders, pedestrians, cyclists, and so on - accepts responsibility for our road safety and that of others.

Ms Morrice:

I thank the Minister for his response, and I appreciate the fact that the Minister of the Environment is also in the Chamber for this question. This is the first time that we have put a private notice question to a Minister, and it is appropriate that it should be on such a serious subject. I join the Ministers in expressing sympathy to the families of those killed in recent weeks.

Several questions on road safety have been put to Ministers today. However, the issue must be considered in much more detail than is allowed by a simple question and answer or by the 20 minutes that we have been allocated.

I must admit that I am extremely disappointed that I am not hearing a much greater desire to do something - to do it now and do it fast. Does the Minister agree that there seems to be total confusion over who takes responsibility or the lead role over the three Es that he is talking about, split between the police, the Department of the Environment and the Department for Regional Development?

Secondly, the Public Accounts Committee certainly had a good go at how badly the strategy on this issue was being followed, in relation to a reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads. It was hoped that by 2000 this would have reduced to something in the region of 1,500. In fact, there were nearly 2,000 dead or seriously injured in 2000 - the figure was 1,950. In other words, the target was not met, and lives have been lost as a result of inaction by these Departments. Is that what it is? People are being killed - five more after this weekend and three two weekends ago - because of inaction on the part of all these organisations, buck-passing, or somebody else's responsibility or fault. Will the Minister support a call for a high-level cross-departmental road safety task force to be set up immediately to cut across the red tape and all these barriers that are impeding us from finding a way to reduce the number of deaths on our roads? Set this up immediately; support this high-level task force on road safety, and get something done to cut the number of deaths on our roads.

Mr Campbell:

I thank the Member for her response and her question. She has indicated that she is disappointed by the lack of response, but I should say that we - the Assembly collectively - are in somewhat of a difficulty, because road safety, per se - [Interruption]

Ms Morrice:

That is buck-passing.

Mr Campbell:

Road safety is an issue for the Department of the Environment. [Interruption]

Ms Morrice:

It is an issue for everyone.

Mr Deputy Speaker:

Order, please.

Mr Campbell:

That is the reality. As Minister for Regional Development, I have itemised traffic-calming measures - not as a result of issues that Ms Morrice or anybody else raised. I raised them in my Department, and I will be making an announcement, because I am concerned. I happen to know one of the families that were bereaved at the weekend in Coleraine. It is not a case of a lack of will on my part. I will do whatever I can within the remit of my Department.

The hon Member makes mention of targets not being met. That is a matter for the road safety division in the Department of the Environment. I will gladly meet - [Interruption]

Ms Morrice:

Road safety is in the Minister's remit.

Mr Deputy Speaker:


Mr Campbell:

I will gladly meet the Minister of the Environment, who is equally concerned about the issue. I will meet him to see if there is any merit in the establishment of a road safety task force, or if there are existing arrangements that can be fine-tuned, with which we can seek to establish a greater degree of response. If the targets are not being met, we can try to see that they are. On those three fronts, we have to continue to educate the public, because all of us should pay greater attention while using the roads, whether as motorists or pedestrians. We need to try to ensure that the enforcement option - for which the RUC is responsible - is vigorously pursued. The engineering option is specifically within my remit.

5.45 pm

As I have said, I am committed to the establishment of and additional expenditure on traffic-calming measures. I hope soon to be in a position to make an announcement about these schemes. I assure the Member and the House that I will meet the Minister of the Environment to come up with measures which are not already being taken and to see if this issue can be addressed more quickly than before.

Mr B Hutchinson:

Every year there are over 800 casualties as a result of traffic turning right. What can the Minister do to remove the serious danger of traffic turning right on dual carriageways?

Mr Campbell:

I will have to examine right turns and other aspects of main junctions and arterial routes where there are higher instances of casualties than expected. The Roads Service is continually carrying out such work and is always looking for ways to make improvements. I have, in response to questions in the House, outlined measures that it has taken to eliminate accidents that occur specifically at right turns.

I will undertake to see what measures have been put in place, for example, in the past 12 months, and I will respond to the Member. I will also seek further safety measures at right turns where problems have emerged from time to time.

Mr Dallat:

Like all Members, I am distressed by the number of road accidents. Is the Minister satisfied that investigations after fatal accidents are sufficiently thorough to uncover all the influencing factors? Would he support a more thorough investigation so that, after all these years, we might learn the reasons for fatal accidents? We know that the primary causes of accidents include speeding and drink-driving. However, it is now widely accepted that much more information should be gleaned after fatal accidents to establish all the factors.

Mr Campbell:

One of the difficulties with fatal accidents involving vehicles is that it may be weeks, as opposed to days, before all the facts emerge, and it is a very sensitive situation. When there has been a fatal accident, family members must be considered, as must the drivers of vehicles. However, I accept the thrust of the Member's point. We ought to be able to establish the causes of these accidents and consider these factors when implementing changes. I will gladly examine the matter.

I look forward to meeting the Minister of the Environment to see if we can undertake to implement any new measures or to implement existing proposals more quickly. The Roads Service will remain committed to implementing engineering measures, including changes in structure, design, right turns, et cetera, which would help to reduce the awful carnage on the roads.

Mr Hussey:

My point follows on from the Minister's response to the last question. I am aware of the three Es approach. With regard to the engineering aspect, how can road safety considerations be given greater priority when schemes are selected for completion using the funding process that the Minister must follow? Is he willing to upgrade road safety as a priority when the Department has to make choices about schemes?

Mr Campbell:

The short answer to that is a simple yes. Roads Service engineers invariably face a problem, which I am sure the hon Member will be aware of given his background in local government. Roads Service engineers examine the road safety implications and the road safety history of a particular stretch of road when there is lobbying for change because of the possibility of accidents. However, many residents and public representatives feel that the Roads Service is almost saying that there must be some sort of accident to guarantee remedial works. That is a difficult situation to resolve. If there are stretches of road where there is the serious possibility of accidents and fatalities, they should be prioritised - and they are.

Occasionally accidents happen that have no obvious safety implications for that stretch of road. If speed or drink-driving is the cause of a fatality, it is difficult to see what could have been done or what can be done in the future to eliminate the problem. I take the Member's point. I will ensure that where possible - and we are examining possible improvements - road safety will be the top criterion. If there is a road safety implication when alterations and remedial work are being contemplated, that implication will always receive high priority.

Adjourned at 5.53 pm.

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