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Government consults on devolution of decision-making on local transport schemes PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 12:29

Local transport bodies could have the power from 2015 to make decisions on capital funding for local schemes, under proposals issued for consultation by the Department for Transport.

Under the current regime, central government must approve all schemes worth more than £5m.

The consultation sets out plans for the devolution of control of decisions and budgets for local transport schemes, such as new local roads, transport schemes, pedestrian routes, and new local rail stations.

According to the DfT, the primary role of local transport bodies – including local enterprise partnerships and local authorities – would be “to agree, manage and oversee the delivery of a prioritised programme of transport schemes from 2015 onwards”.

Elements of the proposals include:

  • Government funding for schemes would be allocated by formula, rather than through a competitive bidding process. Indicative allocations will be published for each LEP area by August 2012;
  • Transport bodies would need to decide and agree their prioritised programme of schemes by April 2013;
  • The lack of a £5m threshold for a major scheme would mean “that a scheme of any size or on any network could potentially be prioritised and funded within a given allocation, where this is seen as a local priority”;
  • Transport bodies would be expected, as now, to secure third party contributions;
  • Transport bodies would need to provide assurance on governance and financial management arrangements, accountability for decisions and value for money;
  • Individual schemes will need to meet minimum value for money thresholds, be appraised in line with the DfT’s webTAG best practice guidance and follow the Transport Business Case framework. “But capable local transport bodies would have the freedom to appraise schemes themselves”;
  • The system is designed to encourage decision-making across LEP boundaries to local transport consortia. However, the DfT said the government would not force consortia formations; and
  • Transport bodies would oversee the delivery of individual schemes, but would not be the vehicle for delivery. This would remain with individual local authorities or other relevant delivery agencies.

The level of funding available for the period post-April 2015 will be decided “in due course”. The DfT is expected to spend around £1.7bn on local transport schemes between 2011 and 2015. The average cost to central government of a local major scheme under the previous government’s regional funding allocation was around £30m.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “We want a system that is much more responsive to local needs and it makes good sense to give local residents and passengers a greater say in the transport infrastructure that they rely on so much.

“These proposals could hand real power to communities so they can make locally accountable decisions on what transport improvements are needed in their area.”

A copy of the consultation paper, Devolving local major transport schemes, can be viewed here.

 

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