A partnership of local authorities and business leaders in the South East of England has submitted a bid for transport devolution to government.
The proposal, by Transport for the South East, is designed to power-up the region’s economic recovery from the effects of Covid-19 and accelerate investment in sustainable transport as part of a thirty-year transport strategy.
Transport for the South East was formed in 2017 and brings together 16 local transport authorities and five local economic partnerships along with other partners including Network Rail and Highways England to speak with one voice on the region’s transport investment priorities.
If approved by Parliament, Transport for the South East’s bid would see it become a statutory sub-national transport body with direct influence over government decision-making on transport issues and the powers needed to deliver major improvements to the South East’s transport network.
The bid has the backing of the South East’s local authorities and local economic partnerships (LEPs) representing more than 7.5 million people and 300,000 businesses. Chambers of commerce, transport operators, ports, airports, protected landscapes and universities in the South East have also given their support, as have national organisations including the Confederation of British Industry and passenger watchdog Transport Focus.
Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: “The South East is a true powerhouse for the UK economy, contributing more than any other region outside London. It’s the country’s principal international gateway for people and goods and drives productivity and prosperity across the UK.
“Our transport strategy sets out how investment in a more sustainable transport network will help our economy recover and grow, delivering a green transport revolution that will create jobs, boost quality of life and help cut carbon emissions to net-zero.
“Transport for the South East has quickly emerged as a powerful and effective partnership for our region, but delivering on our ambitions will require more than just partnership working. That’s why we want to formalise our role as the South East’s voice for strategic transport by becoming a statutory body.
“Statutory status will mean we can work with government to decide how and where money is spent on our region’s transport network and give us the powers we need to accelerate schemes and projects which are better for people, better for business and better for the planet.”