Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420
WEDNESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2002
420. What I was after was that some places have
already done it, have they not?
(Mr Harris) Yes.
421. What I wanted to know was how far there
was a joined-up approach in the two sets of planning. Will you
let us have a note on that?
(Mr Harris) Yes, certainly.
422. Gentlemen, you are all transport professionals,
you understand the logistics of making things happen. You have
read the 10 Year Plan. Do you think it is actually, in practical
(Mr Coates) Perhaps I can start while other people
think. I think a lot of it is. There are certain things which
are already perhaps well prepared, like some of the highway improvements
which are the reinstatement of things which have been deferred
from earlier. Although it may make the delivery of the Plan a
bit unbalanced, perhaps some of the motorway widening schemes
and other highways engineering schemes might get off the ground
quite quickly. We probably might agree with some of the reservations
that have been expressed about the time it will take to do whatever
is decided on in the light of the multi-modal studies. I have
said already that I do not think the public transport improvements
are coming along as fast as they should do, but I think we would
still say that the direction is right and that we ought not to
throw in the sponge and say it cannot be done. Sometimes it is
a good idea to set one's sights above the horizon and aim for
something, even though it is going to take a bit longer to do
it. I will stop there.
(Mr Harris) I think it is also a question of speed
versus local democracy. Obviously the Planning Green Paper is
out at the moment and there are issues surrounding that. Transport
is an issue that at the end of the day is measured by the individual
and the travel behaviour that they decide to adopt. People are
far more interested in injecting into their local transport plan
their local area of identity, potentially their region or the
wider superstructure, so it is absolutely vital that if these
schemes are going to keep to track, the consultation and participation
stage is spot on. I would suggest that perhaps a key target for
the 10 Year Plan, if you said, "Do we need new ones?",
maybe that at 2010 you want to measure the competence level of
transport professionals. Through this process we all should have
learnt from each other, we should have attracted new people to
the industry, and therefore there should be a higher level of
competence within the profession. Also within that there are certain
target areas that do require money, they do require revenue support,
and I would suggest that the key issues outlined earlier onof
project management, of being able to communicate effectively with
the wider publicare ones that do need sharp injections
in order to get things moving.
423. Thank you, Mr Harris. Mr Nutt, finally.
(Mr Nutt) I would like to emphasise a couple of those
points. Our survey gives you very clear evidence that the professionals
think we have to pay attention to the transports skills gaps that
exist at present, and we have to do that quickly. In terms of
public involvement and consultation that John was talking about,
if there is one set of inconsistencies in our survey it is the
professionals' response to whether or not we are doing enough
on that side. On the one hand they are telling us that the public
involvement is not a very important skill area to have, but on
the other hand they are telling us that among the top three biggest
challenges for local authorities in introducing the local transport
plans are public opposition and political will. So there are all
sorts of inconsistencies there, and it seems to us certainly that
that is an area that we have to treat very seriously indeed and
we also have to convince the professionals, never mind the politicians
and the public.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been not only
tolerant but helpful and extremely welcome. Thank you very much
indeed for coming. We are very grateful to you and we will expect
to receive another note from you. Thank you.