Provisions within the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 allow groups of local authorities (LAs) to propose the establishment of Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs). These will be statutory bodies that develop and implement transport strategies to further economic growth. There are several emerging proposals for STBs: Transport for the North, Midlands Connect, England’s Economic Heartland – and the latest, Transport for the South East.
Why do LAs in the South East want a STB? The region is a powerful driver of the UK economy, second only to London, and a major international gateway for people and businesses. Conscious of its contributing role, LAs are also painfully aware the region’s transport infrastructure is creaking at the seams – and that the most powerful way of making the case for investment in a quality, integrated transport system is having one (loud) voice. Their ambition is to connect people, improve the user and safeguard our environment and wellbeing.
An alliance of the highways authorities that ‘wrap’ around southern London, stretching from Kent in the east to Berkshire in the west and including the Isle of Wight, make up the newly formed ‘Transport for the South East’ (TfSE). The group has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Critically, it has secured the support of local politicians and that of the five Local Enterprise Partnerships covered by the TfSE geography. Borough and district authorities will have a voice as does a representative from the region’s various protected areas. Engagement with a broader group of stakeholders – LTAs, operators, user groups, ports, airports, supply chain plus Highways England and Network Rail – is via a Transport Forum, which also attends the Partnership Board.
The group has determined its governance structure, defined its vision, and agreed an ambitious timeline. Next steps are to develop the Transport Strategy, expand communications and put a formal proposal for a STB to Government. The overwhelming focus for Parliament on the Great Repeal Bill and all things Brexit means that securing legislative time is highly unlikely in the next two years. Nonetheless, the partnership groundwork has already been done.
By Hannah Bartram, Chief Operating Officer for the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (www.adeptnet.org.uk)
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This post was written by Hannah Bartram. Chief Operating Officer for the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (www.adeptnet.org.uk)