Findings from 2013
As part of its drive to devolve power, the Government is letting new local business and council partnerships - each covering several local authority areas - decide how to prioritise transport investment.
In the first phase of this process, the Department for Transport created new Local Transport Bodies (LTBs), and handed an initial share of transport spending to them. The LTBs published draft spending plans for 2015-2019 in late summer 2013.
With the Campaign to Protect Rural England, we published a detailed analysis of the spending plans of the new Local Transport Bodies (LTBs).
- Of the 210 priority projects, 123 (59%) were road building and widening projects and these make up a large majority of planned spending.
- Other modes of transport were receiving much less – just over a quarter (26%) of projects are for public transport and sustainable travel. Bus projects made up only 7% of the total, compared with 22% of projects in the final group of directly Government-funded schemes approved in late 2011 (the 'Development Pool').
- Although 6 projects aimed at cycling appeared in longlists produced by the LTBs, none made it into their final priorities.
- Also disappointing was a very low level of public involvement. Of the 38 LTBs assessed, only 12 clearly invited public comments or held a consultation.
"Several have adopted closed decision-making processes and there is a tendency overall to favour road building and widening over more cost effective options. Our analysis shows there is much to learn from the first round of LTB spending plans."
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport
Findings from 2014
From July 2014, the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are absorbing the LTBs and are being awarded money from a new £2 billion annual Local Growth Fund. Each LEP made a bid for a larger share of this fund by putting together proposals for investment in their areas between 2015 and 2020.
This process is being controlled by the Department for Business Innnovation and Skills (BIS) and there's a real danger that funds going into the Local Growth Fund (including £100 million taken directly from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund) will end up supporting another set of roads and car-dependent developments.
With Sustrans, we looked at the bids published by LEPs in March 2014. There are clearly some improvements on the LTB plans, with more cycling and walking among the proposals, but a high proportion of spending by many LEPs is focused on road-building.
We are also looking at the spending plans of the successful bidders after the Government made its decisions on the Local Growth Fund in July. Initial figures show that the proportion of road spending was even higher than for the LTBs, while cycling and walking schemes still made up just 5 per cent of spending.