Transport minister Norman Baker wants to give local authorities more control over how the roads in their areas are classified. Mr Baker, who is launching a consultation into road network policy, said councils were better placed to decide how a route should be classified. At the moment decisions on changes such as downgrading an A road to a B road must be approved by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Mr Baker said: “The current system dates back to the 1960s and is a hangover from the days of Whitehall knows best.
“I believe in giving power to local people. This reform will cut red tape and mean councils can better control traffic in their area.
“They can ensure A roads are placed where they want traffic to run, and can lower the category of road in places they want traffic to avoid.
“By making it less onerous for councils to ensure road classification better reflects conditions on the ground, journeys will be easier to navigate.
“We are also using this as an opportunity to invite new ideas of tackling some of the problems caused by satnavs, for example lorries being directed down unsuitable roads.
“We want to hear suggestions as to how the current system could be improved – and how councils could better work with satnav companies.”
Under the new system, the DfT will only deal with contentious cases where there are serious disagreements about a council’s decision. The consultation, published today on the DfT website, is open until May 1.