Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Queen’s Speech 2016 - Media briefing

16 May 2016

On 18 May, the Queen will present the legislative Bills to be brought before Parliament in the coming year. This media briefing sets out what this could mean for transport.

 

Buses Bill

Background

Buses were deregulated outside London 40 years ago and the Buses Bill is widely regarded as offering some re-regulation for bus services in some parts of England. The Bill will not allow local authorities to run bus services, but would give areas which have agreed devolution deals a variety of new powers to better plan and manage bus services.

What we want to see in the Bill

  • Franchising: Bus operators and local authorities often work well together but some areas want and need the extra power of a franchise-based approach
  • Strengthened partnerships: The Bill should give transport authorities and bus users a stronger hand in partnership discussions
  • Rural areas: Rural areas have been hit hard by cuts to bus services. The Bill should require local authorities to conduct thorough needs assessments for public transport to help ensure basic networks are maintained, communities are not cut off and long term planning is fostered
  • Financing: Bus services have been badly hit by cuts to local authority budgets and additional powers in the Buses Bill must come with assurances over funding to deliver better services. With central government's main grant to bus operators (the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)) ceasing to be ring-fenced in local authority budgets from 2017, secondary legislation or a parallel announcement from the Government, is needed to make clear how long term revenue funding of services will be supported.

National Roads Fund

Background

The legislation for a new National Roads Fund, worth £6 billion a year from money raised through Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), is likely to be introduced.  

What to look out for

The fund is set to be ring-fenced for motorways and trunk roads and will not go towards the £12 billion backlog of repairs to local roads, where the majority of journeys are taken, nor would it assist in reducing air pollution caused by cars and lorries.

The Government is also under pressure to enable London and other devolved authorities to access the Fund for major roads in their areas, and for local authorities to ensure road investment benefits public transport, walking and cycling through the next Road Investment Strategy.

 

Railways Bill

Background

Legislation may be introduced to make law recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), including measures to increase 'on track' competition via more open access operators like Hull Trains and Grand Central, and by allowing more than one company to run each franchise in the future.

What we want to see in the Bill

We are not convinced moves to increase the number of open access rail operators will benefit either rail users or the taxpayer or how this would work with other planned reforms, such as efforts to forge closer relationships between train operations and track management through more devolution. In fact trying to create choice and spare capacity in this environment could waste some of the billions currently being spent on upgrading and enhancing the network.

 

National Infrastructure Commission

Background

The National Infrastructure Commission has already published its first reports, but legislation is needed to place it on a statutory footing.

What we want to see in the Bill

When planning future infrastructure, social and environmental objectives should be just as important as economic ones.

 

Garden cities

Background

The original garden cities plan was for three new Government-led developments with more than 15,000 homes each. It now consists of the Government offering to support locally-led proposals set to deliver 1,500 homes or more.

What to look out for

Although any new developments will need to be locally led, links to strategic transport networks are regarded as a pre-requisite. This makes developments based around new railway stations and lines particularly relevant with a number of proposals already mooted, such as at Wisbech.

 

High Speed Rail (London to the Midlands)

Background

The HS2 Hybrid Bill will be carried over for a second time. Having completed its path through the Commons, the Bill is now in the House of Lords.

What we want to see in the Bill

Campaign for Better Transport wants the Bill amended to ensure that there is:

  • Effective integration with the existing rail network
  • A resulting reduction in carbon emissions from transport
  • An increase in rail freight.

 

Wales Bill

Background

As part of the ongoing devolution of powers to the Welsh Assembly, a new Wales Bill is due to be agreed. For transport, this would transfer responsibility for the Wales and Borders franchise to Cardiff.

What to look out for

With a new franchise due to begin in October 2018, the Assembly is developing a rail strategy based on a 'not for dividend' company charged with meeting social and economic objectives. This development is likely to be of interest to other parts of the country as English devolution gathers pace.

 

ENDS

Campaign for Better Transport has spokespeople available for comment. For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors
 

  1. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
  2. There are 11 areas outside London which have so far agreed devolution deals with central Government.
  3. The next five year Road Investment Strategy will begin in 2020 and will spend the National Roads Fund cash.
  4. The National Infrastructure Commission is chaired by former Labour Transport Minister Andrew Adonis and will make initial recommendations concerning Thames crossings in London and transport priorities for the North of England, including the highly controversial trans-Pennine road tunnel.