Memorandum by the City of Sunderland (IT
A NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORT,
BETTER FOR EVERYONE
I understand, from discussions that took place
at the recent CSS STEP meeting, that the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee are inviting comments on the recent
Transport White Paper. At a meeting held on 17 September 1998,
the City Council's Environment Committee considered a report which
outlined the details of the White Paper and its possible implications
for Sunderland. The Committee have asked me to forward comments
to the Select Committee.
Whilst the general tone of the White Paper is
most welcome, the City Council's main areas of concern may be
summarised as follows:
The emphasis of the White Paper is
very much on the traffic congestion issue, perhaps reflecting
problems faced by London and the South East, rather than on the
more global issues relating to transport.
The initiatives outlined in the White
Paper are not to be immediately backed up with the necessary legislative
changes or any indication of a legislative programme. There are
indications that legislation is unlikely in the coming Parliamentary
session due to an already crowded legislative programme relating
to other policy areas and, as a consequence, expectations of change
may be raised without local authorities being given the power
to deliver it.
The spending plans do not involve
any significant increase in transport expenditure until 2002.
many of the bolder initiatives such
as road pricing or private non-residential parking charges are
initially limited to trial or pilot schemes;
much of the detail is left to "daughter"
documents or guidance resulting in continuing uncertainty (for
example in the precise role of the PTEs in Metropolitan District
Local Transport Plans);
it is likely that the regional framework
will take some time to put in place making co-ordination of policies
between authorities more difficult;
it doesn't adequately deal with wider
concerns such as competitiveness between neighbouring districts,
possible effects on economic development initiatives and the political
acceptability of car restraint measures at the local level. These
concerns might be exploited by those with a pro car agenda to
prevent the White Paper objectives from being achieved;
whilst not a criticism of the White
Paper per se, the downgrading of the transport ministerial
post to non Cabinet status, when Gavin Strang was replaced by
John Reid, suggests that transport does not seem to have moved
up the Government's agenda in relation to other policy areas.
This rather begs the question whether it really is a "New
Deal for Transport"?
I trust that these comments will assist the
Select Committee in its deliberations.