Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by The Association of London Government (IT 137)

THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER

  The following evidence is an officer response submitted on behalf of the Association of the London Government which represents the 32 London local authorities and the Corporation of London. The evidence sets out the Association's response to issues in the White Paper as they apply to London.

  The Association of London Government (ALG), representing the 32 London local authorities and the Corporation of London, welcomes the Government's White Paper A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone. The ALG is fully committed to the development of an integrated transport strategy which is consistent with the principles of sustainable development and therefore welcomes and supports the policies and initiatives set out in Government's White Paper. The Association recognises that the White Paper presents a huge challenge for local authorities, and others, in dealing with our transport and traffic problems and is keen to grasp the opportunity offered to us to start the process.

  The White Paper is welcomed for

    —  setting out a comprehensive framework for dealing with transport policy;

    —  recognising that traffic is essentially a local problem, that transport must be dealt with at a local level and local authorities are best placed to do so;

    —  recognising that transport problems need to be resolved in partnership between key stakeholders, involving businesses, local authorities, Government, passenger groups, operators and so on;

    —  recognising that for most people the car plays an essential role in personal mobility. Many people in London live in locations with limited access to public transport; women, people with disabilities and the elderly have difficulty in using public transport because of access and security reasons;

    —  building on the increasing public recognition that there is a need to improve public transport and reduce our dependence on the car and the emphasis on the encouragement of the use of alternative to the car on environmental, congestion and health grounds whilst continuing with "sticks" such as the use of fuel duties;

    —  the proposal to introduce car parking and congestion charging and that revenues raised will be hypothecated for investment in local transport schemes.

SOME CONCERNS

  Whilst the White Paper does not provide the answer to dealing with all transport problems it does set out a work programme and begins the process. However the Association has a number of concerns about the implementation of the proposals.

TIMETABLE FOR ACTION

    —  Legislation will be needed to introduce the proposed new powers and it is disappointing that no legislative timetable has been set. It is speculated that it is unlikely there will be significant change before 2000-2001. This will make it difficult for local authorities to develop any long-term, meaningful transport plans.

    —  There is a need for early guidance and publication of the number of daughter documents mentioned in the White Paper which will set out the Government proposals in more detail. Local authorities welcome this opportunity to form and influence policy.

    —  There is a presumption in the White Paper that there is a willingness to change. A strong political will is needed at national and local level to implement some of the more contentious proposals. There is a danger that inertia will prevail.

    —  The unpopularity of many of the proposals in the White Paper could mean that implementation of the more radical proposals are delayed indefinitely. The time lag between the implementation of policy and the effect experienced on the ground is huge. Measures which show a demonstrable difference are needed quickly. In this regard, it is regretted that targets for implementation have not been included in the White Paper.

    —  Clarification is needed about whether action can be taken without primary legislation to tackle transport problems, both nationally and locally or whether a gradual approach can be taken. Much is possible under existing powers, for example the piloting of "home zones"; the introduction of bus quality partnerships, investment from monies made available from the Comprehensive Spending Review and minor amendments to existing acts or regulations can be instituted. Clarification would assist local authorities in doing as much as possible pending major legislation.

    —  The Association is concerned about the delay in rail legislation. Enhanced powers of the franchising directors are necessary as an alternative way of ensuring concerns over punctuality and service quality.

CO -ORDINATION AND CONSULTATIVE MECHANISMS POST-GLA

    —  The White Paper is not altogether clear how there would be integration of land-use planning and transportation. The requirement that the transport function should be guided by the Spatial Development Strategy is welcome, but the co-ordination and consultative mechanisms are less certain. The proposed arrangements would appear to require much co-ordination between planning at Borough level and transport at the GLA.

    —  Many of the initiatives set out in the White Paper will be available as new discretionary powers for local authorities. However, in London, many of the initiatives will be the responsibility for the new Mayor of London and the GLA rather than with the London Boroughs. The relationship between, and responsibilities of the GLA and Borough's needs to be more clearly defined.

    —  It is unclear how the respective roles of the Boroughs and the GLA will be undertaken. The White Paper says that local transport plans must integrate with local development plans. In London the Mayor will have responsibility to draw up London's spatial development, economic development and integrated transport strategies but Boroughs will have to frame implementation plans but continue to be responsible for preparing development plans.

    —  London will not be given the opportunity to produce Local Transport Plans. London boroughs will be required to produce local implementation plans (LIPs) which will need to tie-in with and give effect to the Mayor's integrated transport strategy. There may be severe problems of co-ordination between the Mayor's single transport strategy with the 33 Boroughs UDPs and LIPs. The integration of land-use planning and transportation at the London-wide and borough levels needs to be clarified.

    —  If there is to be a single TPP for London, there needs to be some mechanism for formal Borough involvement in compiling that TPP in order to ensure ownership of the process. The ALG could perform this role as the ALG will be far more involved this year and would be needed to ensure there is some consistency to the process when it is handed over. The commitment to a longer-term expenditure programme for local authorities is welcome, but of course this needs to be accompanied by a longer term commitment of Government resources, rather than the current grossly-inefficient single year allocation.

A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

    —  In the case of certain transport and planning policies, such as regional parking standards and private non-residential parking charges, the need for a "level playing field" between the London Boroughs and adjoining authorities in the South East is imperative. There is a danger that one local authority's attempts to deal with its traffic problems will means that they are exported to another or will affect issues such as economic development.

    —  There is a danger that authorities may opt out of the proposals in the White Paper. The Mayor is, as part of his/her transport strategy, likely to make full use of charging powers. Authorities at the edge of London may want to opt out of this approach and seek to gain competitive economic advantage from this. If the Government is not going to require a consistent approach then some form of fiscal or other incentive should be provided so that a more co-ordinated approach can be undertaken. Restraint measures need to be implemented on a strategic regional and sub-regional basis in order to prevent dispersal of economic activity to areas outside the Borough where there may be no restraint mechanisms.

CONGESTION CHARGING AND PNR PARKING CHARGES

    —  It should be noted that parking charges and congestion charging are not mutually exclusive regimes. The former focuses primarily on commuters whilst the latter is more general measure. Local authorities must be able to use both measures. The Association looks forward to the daughter document which will give London Boroughs a further opportunity to comment.

    —  The revised version of PPG13 will deal with future planning policy in relation to transport. However, it should be noted the vast majority of location and relocation decisions do not involve new development. Transport problems cannot be dealt with by restricting new developments and the use of new transport powers, for example, on parking charges is therefore limited.

  Any monies raised by the hypothecation of parking and/or congestion charges must be rigidly applied. If the Treasury claws back any monies raised, there will not be gain for transport.

FURTHER COMMENTS

    —  The Association regrets that there are no proposals in the White Paper to enable local authorities to enforce moving traffic offences or red lines.

    —  It is disappointing that the White Paper makes no mention of charging utilities for the occupation of roadspace, taxation, supermarket car-parking levy.

    —  The establishment of the Strategic Rail Authority is welcomed. A clear strategic programme for railways including overseeing the integration of different parts of the system with each other, with other transport systems, fares and so on. However the regional role of surface rail is not recognised especially its contribution to the development of London. Local authorities and the GLA must have a clear say on the provision of services, investment and should at least have the same role and influence as that of PTA/PTEs outside of London.

    —  Following the Roads Review, it is regretted that the Government has retained a number of new road schemes including the M25 widening and schemes to provide additional traffic capacity to the London airports. These will operate to the detriment of London by undermining attempts to promote travel by public transport.

    —  The preparation of a UK airports policy is welcomed and it is hoped that the "predict and provide" approach which has been dismissed for roads is similarly dismissed for the provision of airports.

LONDON BOROUGHS—DEVELOPING THE WHITE PAPER PROPOSALS

  London Boroughs are already extremely advanced in progressing the proposals in the White Paper. As part of a pre-GLA agenda, designed to ensure there is no hiatus in the provision of transport pending the establishment of the GLA and its executive agencies, the ALG and London Boroughs are implementing a number of initiatives. These include:

    —  TravelWise—a London-wide travel awareness campaign for London to help persuade Londoners to consider alternatives;

    —  Quality Partnerships—the first four London Boroughs are about to sign up to Bus Quality Partnerships;

    —  Road Traffic Reduction—Boroughs are working to develop regional road traffic reduction targets;

    —  Bus priority—priority is being given to the enforcement of bus lanes and giving bus priority and funding is being invested in establishing the London Bus Priority Network;

    —  Cycling facilities—the boroughs, together with partners are introducing increasing numbers of cycle racks and lanes across the capital;

    —  Better interchanges—London Boroughs together with London Transport, ATOC, Railtrack and bus operators are developing multi-modal initiatives to improve interchanges and access to public transport networks.


 
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