Written statement to Parliament

Roads classification

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Roads classification and aspects of the primary route network to be decentralised from April 2012.

I am pleased to announce that, following consultation, the department will be devolving responsibility for roads classification and aspects of the primary route network from April 2012.

This marks the first major revision of these systems since the first Wilson government, and represents a major decentralisation of power. It will greatly improve the ability of local authorities to make changes on their roads, and greatly reduce the amount of central government resource needed to run the system.

Under the new system:

  • local authorities will have control over roads classification decisions in their area, determining which roads should be ‘A’ roads, ‘B’ roads, etc
  • local authorities will be able to set the roads used by the primary route network (‘A’ roads with green signs), while central government retains oversight of the whole system
  • central government will continue to look after the strategic road network

For roads classification and the primary route network, the Department for Transport will reduce its role to handling appeals cases and any disputes which might arise between local authorities, leaving local authorities to manage their roads in the manner they judge most effective.

As part of the consultation, we also took the opportunity to examine whether there might be better ways to link the management of the system with satnav technology. The department will be taking this work forward, and will make a further statement in the new year.