Transport groups closer to statutory status
Groups like Transport for the North (TfN), a conglomeration of local authorities and combined authorities in the north of England, formed to allow them to speak to the Government with a single voice, are one step closer to receiving a statutory role. The government is to propose amendments to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill that would give the body a statutory role. The announcement means that a legislative pathway will be in place to potentially enable TfN to become a statutory body in 2017. The status would allow the organisation to accelerate its plans to set out transport policies and investment priorities in a long term transport strategy for the north.
Interim Chair of TfN, Sir Richard Leese, said, ‘Statutory status will ultimately enable TfN to implement real change, transforming Northern connectivity to rebalance the country’s economy. This announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to TfN and the creation of a Northern Powerhouse. To ensure that we are in a position to make rapid progress towards our vision, TfN is putting in place a high calibre team, headed up by new Chief Executive, David Brown, who joins from his previous role as Director General of Merseytravel. David will be joined later this year by a new Chair and the team will work to drive forward TfN’s ambitious programme. Work is currently focused on developing TfN’s updated strategy for Northern connectivity, which will be published next spring and which will outline the priorities for transforming the Northern economy through significantly enhanced connectivity between the city regions. TfN and the government will be publishing a joint report to highlight progress to date later this autumn.’
Midlands Connect, a partnership championing better road and rail links across the Midlands, has welcomed proposed legislation that could see it given formal powers over strategic transport schemes and investment. The group applauded the Government’s announcement, which it says has paved the way for the existing collaboration of Midland business and political leaders to move to a formal, statutory status.
Co-chair of the Midlands Connect Partnership and leader of Nottingham City Council, Cllr Jon Collins, said, ‘Moving to a more formal arrangement may help us speak with one voice on transport and open up some good opportunities in terms of having far more control and influence over the development of our infrastructure. Ultimately that could help ensure we have the transport links needed to support economic growth and jobs and secure the maximum benefits possible from HS2.’