Government plans to give the regions new powers to ‘transform transport in their areas’ have taken a step forward this week with the publication of proposals in Parliament.
Part of the government’s ‘drive to deliver economic growth across the country’, the proposals would put regional transport bodies, like Transport for the North (TfN), on a statutory footing, as promised in summer 2015 Budget.
Currently, decision-making for strategic transport schemes is centralised at national level. However, the government says that greater local input is needed ‘to drive transformational growth and rebalance the economy’.
The legal powers and duties will allow groups to advise transport ministers on investment priorities in their own areas and on strategic transport schemes to boost growth. Statutory status is also intended to give regional transport bodies the permanence they need to plan for the long term.
Andrew Jones, transport minister, said: “Good transport doesn’t just help people get around, it helps them get on. It has a fundamental role in driving economic growth, and this goes hand in hand with devolving power to those that know their economies and customers best.
“We know the north as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Putting bodies like Transport for the North on a statutory footing is a vital part of our plan to rebalance the economy, and will give greater emphasis to the ongoing work on options for rail and road improvements that will benefit passengers across the north.
“Legal status will ensure that TfN’s impact and influence, and the transformational change that can result, is felt by customers for years to come.”