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


Memorandum by Warrington Borough Council (IT 9)

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.

INTRODUCTION OF CAR PARKING CHARGES FOR OUT-OF-TOWN RETAIL DEVELOPMENTS

  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.

FUNDING

  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.

GUIDANCE ON APPRAISAL OF DEVELOPMENTS AND ASSESSMENT OF CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS "SUSTAINABLE" INFRASTRUCTURE

  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.

COMPANY CAR TAXATION REFORM

  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.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

  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.

TIMETABLE FOR PUBLICATION OF GUIDANCE NOTES, LEGISLATION AND REVISED PLANNING POLICY GUIDANCE

  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.

Keith Millington

Director of Technical Services

18 September 1998


 
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