MP Mole in icy roads pledge

SUFFOLK: As junior transport minister Chris Mole is responsible for the Highways Agency and has been at the eye of the storm over the state of the nation's major roads.

Paul Geater

Page 19 lead

SUFFOLK: As junior transport minister Chris Mole is responsible for the Highways Agency and has been at the eye of the storm over the state of the nation's major roads.

After the bad weather hit the county's roads last week, trapping motorists on the A12 and A14 and causing major problems in the middle of Ipswich, Mr Mole said it would not be unreasonable to ask the agency why the problems had been so serious . . . especially after they were supposed to have examined their operations after problems in February.


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But he said that motorists had to examine their driving - whether they were able to cope in the circumstances.

“The government will be looking at how the Highways Agency and councils coped in what were exceptional circumstances. But there is also a need for drivers to drive according to the conditions,” he said.

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Mr Mole also said it was not possible to operate a transport system in the same way as in Scandinavian countries during winter months because drivers there knew what conditions would be and knew how to drive on snow with chains or studs in their wheels.

However, Luke Bosdet from the AA, said Mr Mole's comments confused two separate issues.

He said that the minister, who is MP for Ipswich, may have been right to say that motorists should look at their driving, but that could not hide the fact that both the Highways Agency and some local councils had failed to keep major roads open during the big freeze.

“Motorists have the right to expect that major roads, especially major urban roads, should remain open - and the fact is that in many places over the last few days the whole gritting system has ground to a halt,” he said.

Contributors to the Star website were also critical.

John Savile, of Ipswich, said: “Chris Mole should be asking questions of the Highways Agency and not blaming drivers for poor driving.”

While a contributor, signing himself Fred Carno, said: “According to our wonderful MP it's all the drivers' fault, with no blame to the council. Just to remind people - he is also the transport minister.”

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