The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) wants restrictions on combined authorities lifted in order to help them deliver better transport infrastructure.
In its State of the Nation: Devolution report launched in Birmingham today (30 June), the engineering body presented a 10-point plan which called for transport bodies to be granted greater access to flexible financing streams to supplement central government funding.
It says this will enable investment in infrastructure that is “transformational”, and the skills needed to deliver it.
Furthermore, ICE said an infrastructure strategy based on need should be established for every current and emerging economic area – including more rural areas without a multi-city make up – so money is directed towards the right projects.
ICE also recommended that all new devolution proposals clearly set out how they will improve environmental sustainability and quality of life, as well as drive growth, claiming a more integrated approach would lead to broader benefits and could help to garner more public support for devolution.
State of the Nation: Devolution steering group chair and ICE vice president, Adrian Coy, said: “The benefits of effective infrastructure are well established – it can boost economic growth, create jobs, regenerate communities, connect people and places and drive environmental sustainability. It is right that infrastructure investment is the driving force behind government’s plans to rebalance the economy, and we hope to see ongoing commitment to the devolution agenda during the EU exit negotiations, so momentum is not lost.
“Looking forwards, combined authorities must now take the helm and deliver these benefits locally. This will be no mean feat, but with the right frameworks, investment and skills in place they can succeed.
“We would like to see the restrictions on combined authorities accessing additional financing streams lifted, so they can invest in infrastructure – and skills – that can really transform a region. While combined authorities have the will and powers, their financial means are currently limited.
“To ensure decisions on spending are strategic, overarching infrastructure strategies should be developed, based on need. Midlands Connect and Transport for the North have provided greater focus for transport services and we should build on this success, establishing strategies for all networks– recognising their interdependent nature – and all wider areas as they emerge.”