Council plans to back formation of independent Northern transport body

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 24 Aug 2017

The council is looking to pledge its support to the future of a transport body - independent from Government - that will allow Northern towns to have a greater say on major road and rail investment decisions.

North East Lincolnshire Council wants to back the establishment of a partnership of 19 local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), called Transport for the North, as a statutory, sub-national transport body.

Established in 2014, Transport for the North (TfN), was set up through a collaboration of Northern transport chiefs to address the issue of an ongoing struggle for towns and cities in the North to secure investment for transport projects with the potential to transform economic growth.

A Virgin train (Image: PA)

It's overall aim is to give 'the North' a platform to "speak with one voice" and allow councils like NELC to have a greater influence over major transport investment decisions made by the Department for Transport in Westminster.

The council's cabinet will consider proposals tabled by officers to back the establishment of TfN as a sub-national transport body. TfN hops to gain statutory status before the end of 2017.

From that point forward, TfN bosses will work with the Government's key transport decision makers to "ensure" that the North's transport priorities are clearly understood.

NELC say that by backing TfN, the proposal will contribute to the council's 'stronger community' objective by strengthening the authority's ability to lobby for improved public transport provision to connect North East Lincolnshire’s most deprived communities with the borough’s economic growth areas, health and key facilities.

If TfN is successfully established as a statutory body it would represent "an important first step" towards achieving long-term significant devolution of transport powers and resources from Government.

The Secretary of State, Damian Green, must give the go-ahead for TfN to gain statutory status before the body can act on "poor transport connectivity" between the major cities and regions in the North.

Transport investment on a per capita basis is significantly lower in the North than in London and the South East and many other city regions across Europe.

TfN is compromised of authorities in Manchester, Liverpool, Yorkshire, the North West and Northern Lincolnshire.

In June 2016 TfN published its Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, which sets out the potential economic benefits of long-term transport investment across the North.

For statutory status to be granted by Government, the TfN must gain formal consent from all 19 authorities involved before September this year.

Council papers outline how the proposal does come with risks, including potentially getting outvoted on key matter by authorities with larger populations than North East Lincolnshire.

Funding for TfN's activities will be provided by Government until March 2020. Beyond this period, authorities may be requested to provide funding on the basis of resident population.



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