Memorandum by Devon County Council (IT
TRANSPORT WHITE PAPERA NEW DEAL FOR
The Environment Committee of Devon County Council
considered the Government's White Paper at its meeting on the
22 September 1998.
Overall the publication of the White Paper is
welcomed by Devon County Council. It continues the development
of a policy framework which has its origins in "This Common
Inheritance" and which can be traced through the publication
of PPG13, PPG6 and legislation such as the Environment Act 1995
and the Road Traffic Reduction Act. The White Paper builds upon
this framework and proposes new measures which will support and
encourage the realisation of a truly integrated transport system.
A substantial number of the proposed measures
set out within the White Paper require legislation (either primary
or secondary) to be put in place. Any delay in the approval of
legislation associated with these measures would be a matter of
some considerable concern to Devon County Council.
The replacement of the annual capital bidding
process (through the Transport Policies and Programme) by five
year Local Transport Plans which embrace both capital and revenue
expenditure on transport, is warmly welcomed. It is assumed that
as Local Transport Plans will be a replacement for the TPP, the
County Council will take the lead in its preparation. However
the importance attached to ensuring the widest possible ownership
of the content of the Local Transport Plan through the involvement
of all sectors of the local community is strongly supported. In
this respect the importance of ensuring the early publication
of clear and concise guidance on the development of Local Transport
Plans cannot be underestimated. Devon County Council strongly
urges that the draft guidance on Local Transport Plans is published
at the earliest possible opportunity.
The measures outlined to support the development
of public transport services are a key feature of the White Paper.
The importance attached to the development of quality partnerships
is welcomed. The longer timescale associated with Local Transport
Plans should enable private and public sector investment in public
transport services to be co-ordinated more effectively than at
The proposal for a national minimum standard
for local authority concessionary fares for elderly people on
buses is welcomed in principle, however there are a number of
concerns which need to be addressed in more detail. In particular
it is unclear how the cost of such a scheme would be covered.
Experience of the Countywide scheme in Devon has highlighted a
reluctance on the part of the transport operators to agree to
unrestricted half price travel, principally because of concerns
as to the lack of capacity during the peak hours. Devon County
Council is concerned that the proposed national scheme does not
appear to extend to scheduled rail services, unlike the existing
Countywide scheme in Devon.
The proposals associated with the development
of the rail industry are to be welcomed. Devon County Council
is particularly keen to obtain more details of the two new schemes
announced in support of new investment proposals.
Devon County Council notes the suggestion that
all airports with scheduled passenger services should lead an
Airport Transport Forum tasked with the development of an access
strategy for the airport. It supports the establishment of such
a forum for Exeter Airport.
The announcement of proposals to introduce legislation
which would allow local authorities to introduce road user and/or
workplace parking charges attracted considerable attention at
the time that the White Paper was published. Details of the proposed
charges are limited within the White Paper and Devon County Council
will have to await publication of the associated consultation
paper before being in a position to form an opinion as to whether
the introduction of either charge is appropriate in Devon.
Notwithstanding the need to await publication
of the consultation paper, Devon County Council is concerned at
the apparent suggestion that road user charging might be an appropriate
mechanism for managing access to popular tourist areas.
Devon County Council is keen to pursue the suggestion
that local authorities should work with retailers and operators
of leisure facilities to identify measures which reduce car dependency.
In particular it welcomes the indication that the introduction
of these measures should be funded by the private sector.
The proposal to establish a national public
transport information system is supported. Public confidence in
such a service will be dependent on the accuracy of the information
provided In this respect careful consideration should be given
to the need to ensure that the service is sufficiently detailed
at a local level, whilst forming part of a national service.
The requirement to ensure that information about
bus services is available in their areas places an additional
responsibility on local authorities that will have a financial
implication. Similarly the suggestion that local highway authorities
should provide free of charge the roadside information that drivers
need to make effective use of the highway network, is a requirement
which brings with it a financial implication. Greater clarity
is sought by Devon County Council as to whether or not additional
resources will be forthcoming in response to these additional
The White Paper identifies a key role for Green
Transport Plans as part of an integrated transport policy. In
particular the commitment by Government to work with local authorities
to help secure widespread voluntary take up of Green Travel Plans
through partnership with business and the wider community is welcomed.
Devon County Council is actively supporting
a business led initiative in Exeter which could form a model of
good practice for achieving this objective. The Exeter Initiative,
on behalf of the Exeter Business Forum, is facilitating the development
of the Exeter Business Travel Plan, a framework which encourages
local businesses to develop their own travel plans and their co-ordination
at a city-wide level. The development of the County Council's
own Green Travel Plan is being co-ordinated with the development
of the Exeter Business Travel Plan.
In noting the publication of the report the
Environment Committee resolved, inter alia, that:
"the Committee welcomes the publication
of the White Paper and requests the DETR to publish `Guidelines
for Local Transport' urgently; and whilst the Committee firmly
supports the idea of a national concessionary fares scheme, the
Local Government Association be alerted to the cost implications
for those schemes, such as the Devon Scheme, which are self supporting
and also that the LGA investigate the possibility of concessionary
fares for rail."
I trust that the above comments are of assistance.
for County Environment Director
12 October 1998