The government had no plans to legislate to abolish unadopted roads, government whip Lord Davies of Oldham told peers.
This was a local matter and the responsibility of local authorities. There were 40,000 unadopted byways and roads in the United Kingdom.
He was replying to the only Green Party peer, Lord Beaumont, who asked when the government intended to legislate to abolish unadopted roads.
Lord Beaumont commented:'A great many such roads are sources of disease and pests and are dangerous to passers-by and people who live on them. There are not many votes per council, nor much leadership from the people living on unadopted so to expect councils to do much without carrots or sticks being provided by central government is quite ridiculous'.
Lord Davies explained local authorities could adopt three strategies to deal with unadopted roads: they could adopt such roads and take on the full costs; they could offer to help with deferment of interest payments when the frontages pay for the roads; or, in the long-term, they could pay for the capital costs and charge just the interest payments
He said the problems fell disproportionately on local authorities across the country and that is why they struggled to meet demands made on them. In some local authorities there were few unadopted roads and in others, for all kinds of historical reasons, there were very many.
Hansard 2 Dec 2003: Column 178 - 180