Memorandum by Surrey County Council (IT
1. Surrey County Council welcomes the publication
of the Transport White Paper. The County Council has long argued
the need for a coherent national policy framework and is pleased
to note that many of the points which it made in response to the
consultation paper issued last year are reflected in the White
2. The County Council welcomes the fact that
the White Paper builds on the Green Paper produced by the previous
Government. The Council endorses the Government's view that it
is now time for action to resolve the country's outstanding transport
problems and that people want more choice, more alternatives to
the car, more reliable journeys and reduced pollution. Surrey
faces more acute traffic problems than any other county and the
County Council will support clear national leadership with effective
3. The White Paper is a strategic document.
Many of the proposals in the White Paper rely on "daughter"
documents to fill in the details. Without those documents it is
difficult to see whether the intentions of the White Paper are
likely to materialise.
4. Surrey County Council welcomes the Government's
recognition of successful local initiatives to bring about a more
integrated transport system. Surrey has been in the forefront
of this approach, having produced an initial Transport Plan in
1991. This recognised the need to abandon the "predict and
provide" approach and to adopt an integrated transport philosophy.
This Plan was revised in 1996 when, following publication of PPG13,
the County Council adopted amended objectives and a series of
targets to meet these objectives, e.g., to limit road traffic
growth within Surrey to 13 per cent above the 1995 level by 2011.
Many of those objectives and targets have been mirrored within
the White Paper.
5. The White Paper leaves the main responsibility
for its implementation to Local Authorities. This Memorandum addresses
6. The introduction of Local Transport Plans
is a core proposal and is welcomed. It is important in two tier
local authority areas, which cover about half the population of
England, that the preparation of these Plans is a County Council
responsibility. District Authorities should assist in their preparation,
but only the County Council, as the strategic planning and highway
authority, can provide a wider overview of priorities for the
area. In that sense Local Transport Plans may be wrongly titled
and cause unnecessary confusion. It is a general weakness of the
White Paper that it fails to distinguish between the different
tiers of local government or in any sense to define what it means
7. The annuality of the current Transport Policies
and Programme (TPP) system mitigates against forward planning.
The White Paper proposes that Local Transport Plans should contain
a 5 year strategy and programme. This is welcomed provided it
is accompanied by greater certainty of funding.
8. There is also an acute need for additional
funding. Road maintenance work is suffering from long term underfunding,
and we are storing up major and costly problems for the future.
If the momentum of change envisaged in the White Paper is to occur,
increased funding is also necessary to help Local Authorities
take action to alleviate congestion and pollution and to promote
modal shift. Local Authorities need sufficient funding to be able
to invest in encouraging non-car modes of travel if they are to
implement the White Paper's objectives. Restraint measures alone
will not be enough.
9. The Government intends to issue guidance
on the preparation of the new Local Transport Plans later this
year. This guidance will need to clarify how strategic policy
and financial bidding are to be co-ordinated, the role of consultation
and how revenue streams are to support the capital block allocations.
10. The Government proposes three additional
powers for Local Authorities to empower them to meet local problems.
to enable Local Authorities to charge
road users so as to reduce congestion, and to use the funds raised
to improve public transport. Surrey welcomes in principle this
initiative, which may be relevant to some of our towns. However,
pilot schemes are needed to test its value.
to enable Local Authorities to levy
a new parking charge on workplace parking. Again Surrey County
Council welcomes this proposal which should be seen as relevant
to Shire towns just as much as to Metropolitan centres. It is
important that the income gained is used solely to reinvest in
Local Transport improvements. A County-wide approach will be essential
to avoid distortions to the competitiveness of neighbouring towns.
Co-ordination between neighbouring counties will also be necessary.
to enable Local Authorities to enter
into Quality Contracts for bus services with performance targets.
Surrey already has Quality Partnerships with bus operators, but
these extra powers will help us improve bus services on an area
rather than on a route basis.
Surrey County Council wishes to see early legislation
to introduce these powers.
11. The White Paper tends to concentrate on
urban conditions at the expense of those in small towns and rural
areas. There is a need to develop distinctive approaches in these
12. In rural areas there is acute concern about
speeding traffic. The White Paper accepts that enforcement of
road traffic offences needs to be re-examined and that ways of
improving the current arrangements for funding cameras are to
be explored. Surrey County Council urges the Government to ensure
adequate funding for speed limit and other traffic enforcement,
to allow the reinvestment of income from fines into enforcement
activity, and to encourage more flexible and collaborative working
between the Police and the Local Highway Authority. We are particularly
disappointed that the White Paper does not provide for the hypothecation
of speeding fines to help fund better enforcement.
13. There is also a need to allow for more flexible
criteria for traffic calming and traffic management to meet rural
conditions. Many of the measures currently required by the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) for traffic
calming involve physical infrastructure which changes the character
of villages in ways unacceptable to their residents. The concept
of "Best Value" enjoins Local Authorities to be responsive
to the views of our communities. We encourage the Government to
review the criteria for traffic calming in rural areas in this
14. The Government has decided to introduce
a national standard for concessionary fares. Surrey County Council
operates a County-wide concessionary fare scheme. For many years
Government policy has been to allow Local Authorities to determine
the type and level of concessionary fares schemes in their areas
according to local circumstances and needs. In two tier Local
Authority areas, both counties and districts have powers to implement
and fund concessionary fares schemes, although the Standard Spending
Assessment (SSA) credits district authorities, regardless of which
tier actually provides the funding. In any event, the amount of
SSA is not clear, as concessionary fares expenditure is included
in a block which also covers several other areas of expenditure,
mostly, if not all, in the social services area.
15. The scale and nature of concessionary fares
schemes have a large influence on the level of public transport
usage in an area, even if the overall impact on transport operators
is intended to be financially neutral. Consequently, there is
a strong argument that the policy for the provision of concessionary
fares schemes should be an integral part of the Local Transport
Plans. Transport Authorities in two tier local authority areas
are increasingly likely to favour area wide concessionary schemes,
which maximise travel opportunities and encourage the use of public
16. Surrey County Council strongly believes
that the following actions should be taken by Central Government:
(i) The SSA funding for concessionary fares
schemes should be separately identified, as it should be treated
as part of overall transport funding for local authorities.
(ii) The SSA should be credited to whichever
local authority is responsible for making the reimbursement payments
(iii) A standard reimbursement formula, or,
at least, methodology allowing for local circumstances, should
be devised for the national minimum half fare scheme for bus travel,
and the SSA should reflect expenditure under this formula Local
Authorities should not be exposed to additional expenditure resulting
from fares increases well in excess of inflation, and the methodology
should thus include annual increases based on publicly available
(iv) Local Authorities should be permitted
to top up the minimum concessionary scheme, if they judge this
appropriate to their areas, for example through reduced or free
issue of permits, through provision of free transport, through
the provision of tokens or through an extension to trains and
(v) Concessionary fares schemes should be
part of Local Transport Plans.
17. The County Council welcomes the redefinition
of the Highways Agency's role as one of Network Manager rather
than as Highways Builder.
18. The introduction of Regional Traffic Control
Centres (RTCC) is also welcomed but it is essential that information
provided to users on the Trunk Road network is fully co-ordinated
with information on the local road network. There is real concern
at County level that the RTCC will, in providing a higher level
of service to Trunk Road users, simply transfer the problem to
the local road network.
19. Surrey County Council welcomes the creation
of the new Strategic Rail Authority if this leads to improved
dialogue with local authorities on local rail service improvements.
It is important to both the Development Plan and the Local Transport
Plan for improvements in rail facilities to be identified so that
they can be safeguarded and pursued. We are very concerned to
see higher levels of investment in railways so as to make them
a more attractive and reliable alternative to the car. Surrey
sees clear economic, social and environmental benefits in improved
railway infrastructure and services and is especially keen to
see a direct rail link to Heathrow Airport from Guildford, Woking
and the west of the County. We urge the Government to address
the current investment in railways and to take steps to improve
the quality of services.
20. Surrey County Council is disappointed that
the White Paper did not restore to the local highway authority
the power to direct refusal of planning permission. The White
Paper confirmed that the Highways Agency would retain this power
in relation to the Trunk Road network, but did not restore the
power to County Councils in relation to county roads and in particular
to those Primary Roads in the County Council's care. Although
the power would only be used sparingly, its very existence would
help ensure that planning decisions took full and proper account
of the impact of proposed developments on the surrounding roads
and that land use planning was more fully integrated with transport
21. Surrey County Council welcomes the White
Paper, but if the Government wishes to maintain a momentum of
change it is essential that:
Parliamentary time is found to introduce
the further legislative powers envisaged for Local Authorities.
additional resources are found for
Local Highway Authorities, which are the key agent for implementing
the White Paper's measures;
clarification is provided on the
relationship between capital and revenue funding with Local Transport
changes are made in the SSA formula
to allow for Concessionary fares to be separately identified and
credited to whichever Local Authority is responsible for the operation
of the scheme in their area;
greater flexibility is afforded to
traffic management criteria for rural areas.