Warning that policy changes could seriously affect local transport networks

Three forthcoming changes in national policy could fundamentally affect local transport networks, a leading figure in the local government transport sector has said.

ADEPT president Rupert Clubb told an audience at Traffex 2017, “When we consider our road network, we can’t just look at it on its own: it is about the wider transport network. For me, that’s the relationship with ports, airports, rail, underground connections.

“If you look at the Victoria Line, heading north from Victoria in the rush hour, it is organised chaos, but we have to remind ourselves from time to time that the transport networks by and large, work for us pretty well,” he said.

Clubb explained the first of three fundamental policy changes on the horizon in relation to transport networks has to be the Government’s Green Paper on Building our Industrial Strategy, the main emphasis of which is improving productivity and specifically closing the productivity gap in certain areas of the UK.

He warned, “One of the risks of course in closing the productivity gap between different areas of the country is you throw infrastructure investment into those areas that you wish to improve productivity on. And what concerns me is that might create an infrastructure legacy that we have to live with and we have to manage.

“So there is some caution with the Industrial Strategy: beware of unintended consequences of aiming to close the productivity gap by moving infrastructure money around.”

Clubb also cited the Government’s recent White Paper on “Fixing the Broken Housing Market”, describing it as a chicken and egg situation, “what comes first, the infrastructure or the housing?   We know that local residents quite often use the lack of infrastructure as a reason for opposing housing applications and housing build outs. So the relationship with our infrastructure – it doesn’t matter if it’s the local road network, the rail network, Highways England’s network – is fundamental to ensuring we have sustainable vibrant communities.”

Clubb said the third key policy was the 25-year environment strategy that is being talked about by the environment department Defra, “It is rumoured that a Green Paper is due.”

He warned that the environment cannot be an add-on, “The links to the quality of infrastructure and getting sustainable communities are all about supporting good growth. And no-one wants poor growth,” he concluded.

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