Memorandum by Warrington Borough Council
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
The Council welcomes the publication of the
White Paper providing for the first time a national integrated
policy for transportation. The scope of the paper is extensive
recognising the wide range of initiatives required to bring about
change in travel behaviour and transportation patterns. The Council
is particularly pleased with the focus for more closely integrating
transport and land use planning, the longer-term stability in
funding to local authorities through the introduction of local
transport plans and the appropriate emphasis on consultation/partnership
in the development of such plans.
The authority, however, believe the effectiveness
of the White Paper could have been strengthened by the inclusion
of a number of other initiatives.
It is disappointing that the Government are
not proposing to introduce a charge for non workplace private
non-residential parking, particularly for out-of-town retail developments.
Warrington town centre is faced with competition from major regional
out-of-town facilities such as those at Dumplington in Trafford
and Gemini (Marks and Spencer and Ikea). The White Paper therefore
does little, by way of parking charges, to address the issue of
vitality and viability of town centres and does not attempt to
redress the balance in favour of the town centre.
The increased level of funding being made available
is not sufficient to deliver local transport plans across England
in the short to medium term. The government do not recognise the
scale of task in hand for local authorities. It is particularly
disappointing that only an increase of just over 14 per cent or
£75 million extra for local transport in England for next
year (not taking into account the effect of inflation, which would
reduce this). Even with a doubling in finance by 2001-02 the finance
will not be sufficient to properly fund the additional 150 local
transport plans, as well as providing much needed extra finance
for existing strategies, maintenance and Local Safety Schemes,
to redress under investment in these areas by the previous government.
For instance authorities have been requested to submit "realistic"
Package bids in terms of finance available rather than in terms
of the ability to deliver, i.e., to lower their sights and extend
their programmes over a much longer time-scale than first indicated
by the government (20 years rather than five to 10 years). Authorities
may have to introduce charges for workplace parking or congestion
charging if they are to make available sufficient finance to deliver
the local transport plan in the medium term (five to 10 years).
The introduction of such charges could undermine
economic prosperity, particularly if such charges are not considered
and introduced on a regional/national basis. It may also be extremely
difficult to obtain consensus regionally on the introduction of
such charging, which would then lead to a severe shortage of funds
to deliver the Integrated Strategy.
It is acknowledged that the government will
issue further guidance for undertaking appraisal and assessment
of transport and development strategies. This will be based on
an objectives led approach, set against the five criteria, adopted
for the roads review, namely integration, safety, economy, environment
and accessibility. However, further guidance is also required
on securing sustainable transport improvements from new developments,
particularly clarity on what is constituted as being "reasonable"
and how this is to be assessed. Local authorities, including Warrington,
currently use the Institute of Highways and Transportation agreed
guidance on Traffic Impact Assessments for guidance on how development
traffic impacts should be assessed. With the publication of the
White Paper and increased emphasis towards alternative modes of
transport new guidance is required from the government (preferably
in conjunction with the IHT) to produce clearer and stronger guidance
on dealing with the provision of sustainable infrastructure and
how this is taken into account in the development control appraisal
process. Such guidance also needs to be closely linked with the
new common appraisal framework.
At present company cars account for 12 per cent
or almost 3 million of all cars and 20 per cent of all mileage.
The use of company cars has therefore an important impact on the
environment. In terms of reform of company car taxation it is
disappointing that no new measures were announced in the White
Paper. The Government must replace the existing business mileage
discounts for one based on driving fewer miles in company cars
for the integrated strategy to be successful.
It is disappointing that The White Paper does
not introduce major reform to the bus industry. It was hoped that
more wide ranging reform, with the introduction of regulation
possibly similar to the franchise system operated in the privatised
rail industry would be proposed. This would provide the framework
for authorities to indicate a minimum level of service and standards
required and for operators to compete for the operation of routes
on the basis of quality, service level and price.
It is also hoped that local authorities will
have a strong role as the honest broker in the publishing and
co-ordination of timetable information and thereby provide a comprehensive
information service to local people as part of the overall initiative
to improve public transport information nationally.
The authority is concerned that the legislation,
the publication of the daughter documents and revised planning
policy guidance may take some time. This would lead to delay in
implementing the transport strategy and for authorities in the
production of Unitary Development Plans/Local Plans. The production
of a time-table would assist in forward planning and help ensure
that legislation receives appropriate priority.
The above provides a summary of the main areas
of concern to Warrington.
Director of Technical Services
18 September 1998