Local communities could get more say over decisions and budgets for major transport schemes situated in their area.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced the new consultation this week, which will propose a new system that could potentially see a decision on capital funding for local schemes, including new roads, public transport, pedestrian routes and railway stations.
Justine Greening commented on the new consultations saying: “We want a system that is much more responsive to local needs and it makes good sense to give local residents and passengers a greater say in the transport infrastructure that they rely on so much.
“These proposals could hand real power to communities so they can make locally accountable decisions on what transport improvements are needed in their area. This is a key plank to our localism agenda, freeing local authorities from central government control, so I look forward to responses from across the country.”
At the moment the Government must approve all schemes over £5 million pounds. It is proposed that from 2015 local transport bodies will be able to decide for themselves how to spend their money on what is suited to their needs as a community.
Local transport bodies involve both local enterprise partnerships and local authorities. Their primary role will be to agree, manage and oversee the delivery of a prioritised programme of transport schemes from 2015 onwards.
Around £1.7bn is being spent on local transport projects between 2011 and 2015. The consultation proposes allocating funding to local transport bodies by formula rather than a competitive bidding process.
In return of local communities having their say they will need to reassure the Government of governance and financial management arrangements to achieve value for money.
The proposal states that local transport bodies will have until April 2013 to decide and agree their schemes.
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By Amanda Bainbridge