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Paper 16 - 25 September 1998 Meeting 

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

25 September 1998

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION TRANSPORT COMMITTEE MEETING

29TH JUNE 1998

Report by Councillor Bill Greer, New Forest District Council

It was reported that Phil Swann had been appointed to be Director of Communications and Current Affairs from 1st July 1998. Members of the committee expressed their thanks for his helpful advice over the last year and wished him every success in this new job.

Business was mainly noting reports from other LGA Committees, and in the absence of the expected White Paper on an Integrated Transport Policy, and, in the light of further information, reaffirming decisions made previously.

REPORTS TO BE NOTED BY COMMITTEE

The LGA is in the process of setting its policy priorities for 1998/99. the aim is to (i) reflect the resources available and directing these in a way which secures best value for local government; (ii) reflect the diversity of local government but focusing on a common agenda of community leadership, partnership and the principles of subsidiarity; (iii) reflect the objectives of the Government of the day and the political climate but seeking to promote a local government agenda; (iv) to identify a relatively small number of policy priorities which warrant and/or require significant corporate effort and/or support.

The Environment and Regeneration Board at its meeting on the 11th June recommended that the Transport Committee should work closely with the Government and DETR to take forward and deliver the proposals expected to be set out in the Integrated Transport White Paper.

Members of the Transport Committee felt that the proposals should be seen before any decisions were made but there was a view that there would be general support for a policy that provided sufficient financial resources for investment in roads and the infrastructure while facilitating closer links between transport, the environment and land use planning. A truly Integrated Transport Policy must include buses, trains, trams, sea and air ports and recognise that in the rural areas there was a part to be played by the car, however much it was desired to reduce journeys by car. A rural transport system would be costly to provide and could not match the facilities available in the more densely populated cities and large towns.

It seems that the White Paper may not be ready in July, as expected at one time, and may not appear until after the parliamentary recess but there is talk that following its publication there will be a number of Consultation Documents. It was agreed that a Seminar should follow closely on the publication of the paper and a discussion on how best the policies should be implemented.

It was reported that the National Transport Partnership had met on the 2nd March and discussed the review of roads and emphasised the LGA's desire for ownership responsibility for large parts of the existing trunk-road-network to be transferred to local authorities. A survey of local authorities had found general support for the proposed Five Year Local Transport Plan and how congestion charging and private non-residential charges for parking might be introduced. The LGA's submission, in response to the Government's original consultation exercise, included in the Bus Appendix the need for improvement of arrangements for school bus provision.

The best judges of BEST VALUE are local people. This was the statement in the LGA's response to the DETR consultation paper, 5th May 1998. The role of the Government and the Auditor should be to ensure that the public is able to decide whether it is receiving BEST VALUE rather than substituting their own judgements for those of the public. Local people have a role to play in choosing, designing, delivering and monitoring the services they use.

In a report to the Policy and Strategy Committee on the 28th May the LGA welcomed the Government's commitment to the modernisation of Local Government and agreed with the statement of the Prime Minister that "at its best local government is brilliant and cannot be bettered". We need to build on the best and positively address those areas where change is required, in local government and in its relationship with central government, with the business community and with other partners. Improving the system by which local government is financed has an essential part to play in achieving better local government for the present system gives too much control to central government over councils'budgets.

TRANSPORT COMMITTEE

Rural Bus Grant

Subject to the distribution arrangements for the Grant being satisfactory, the committee agreed with the Rural Commission that the announcement of the Grant was welcome and the LGA should continue to assist the DETR in its distribution. It was highlighted that the total grant amounted to around one percent of the revenue from the increased tax on fuel in the recent budget. The motorist still gets poor value from the huge sums taken from him/her in tax.

Road Safety

The major activity is the continuing development by the DETR of new national accident reduction targets. A Steering Group was set up by the DETR last year with a number of working groups on which the LGA and Road Safety Officers are represented.

A revised Highway Code could be published in the autumn and, also, it is hoped to include an amendment in new regulations to allow School Crossing Patrols to stop traffic on behalf of adult pedestrians.

DRIVERS

The DETR has carried out a consulting exercise on alcohol-limits for drivers and the outcome could have a considerable effect on safety policies. There had been concern expressed about the use of mobile phones and a "code of practice" is to be compiled.

It was regretted that "In Cab" height notices appeared not to have reduced the instances of large vehicles striking low bridges and more effective measures should be sought.

The introduction of Speed Limits lower than the urban limit of 30 mph has interested local authorities for some time. The DETR paper on 20 mph speeds is welcome.

COUNCILLOR BILL GREER
New Forest District Council

Last update: 21/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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