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

Memorandum from the Local Government Association Conservative Group (IT 56)


  The LGA Conservative Group is committed to transport policies which:

    —  strengthen the national and local economy;

    —  provide freedom of choice;

    —  enhance the quality of life;

    —  protect and enhance the environment.

  A national transport strategy should have two main objectives. First, to support UK business, their competitiveness and the national economy. Second, to improve the quality of life for all.

  Many of the broad aims and sentiments of the White Paper are well expressed and widely shared. The White Paper calls for mobility for all in a way that is safe, efficient, clean and fair. The emphasis on bus transport is welcome, as are the sections on cycling, walking and school transport.

  The Government must show that it has real confidence in Local Councils to do the job and ensure that local authorities receive the necessary funding to carry out these policies and for the proper investment in the national transport infrastructure. The Government must also understand and acknowledge that the country has a diverse range of transport needs. There are differences between urban and rural areas and also geographical considerations which vary across different regions and localities.

  The section following states our main concerns applying to some of the proposals set out in the White Paper. Further clarification will be needed on almost every aspect of policy. However, we acknowledge that the Government will be publishing a large number of subsidiary guidance papers and discussion documents to flesh out these proposals.


  1. UK business needs an effective motorway and road system in order to remain competitive and to attract international inward investment. The Government's recent trunk road review shifted policy away from transport's first priority of supporting the economy and business. The CBI stated that the White Paper brought only £350 million a year out of a necessary £2.5 billion needed for investment every year for the next 10 years.

  2. The national economy needs a properly maintained infrastructure. It was not encouraging to see the July spending review announce a freeze for local authority road maintenance for the next three years.

  3. Significant increases in capital allocations to authorities do not occur until 2001-02.

  4. The White Paper also fails to give due weight to the need to shift freight from road to rail. This modal shift would bring long-term gains to the economy and business, to the environment and to reducing road use and congestion.

  5. Many of the controversial elements of the White Paper have been devolved to local authorities with the decisions on these potentially being taken at District Council level (i.e., road pricing and workplace parking) whilst the costs are incurred by County Councils.

  6. Workplace parking charges will result in a further tax on the motorist and business.

  7. Congestion charging and road pricing will mean that the benefits in independence and quality of life that the car has brought to many people will be removed from those who cannot afford it. People must be encouraged onto public transport—not priced out of their cars. Public transport charges in the U.K. are already high in comparison to Europe and other nations.

   In rural areas the car is, for many, essential for work, for school and for any social activity. The private car must continue to be recognised as an essential part of any integrated transport strategy.

  8. The emphasis on Heathrow as a public transport hub does not support the regional balance between the west of London, the east of London and the rest of the United Kingdom. A strategy which encouraged growth at regional airports and revitalised east coast Ports would result in growth in economic development and boost employment in areas which need economic regeneration.

  9. Much of the delivery of the White Paper—of making local and public transport effective and relevant to people's lives, of co-ordinating land use and transport planning and of revitalising towns—must be picked up by local authorities. This is welcomed. There is, however, real concern over the plethora of new organisations and arrangements in the White Paper, and consequent costs, to deliver this—including a commission for integrated transport and five year local transport plans set within planning guidance from regional planning conferences.

  The Conservative Group of the LGA looks forward to contributing further to the consultation process as the more detailed subsidiary guidance papers are published by the Government.

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Prepared 28 April 1999