Clause 12

Part of – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 24th April 2008.

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Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport) 10:00 am, 24th April 2008

The clause goes to the heart of some of the changes in the Bill. We have received many representations: I, and I am sure all members of the Committee, have met representatives from some of the PTAs who say that they have encountered huge problems when trying to take an integrated approach to implementing or drawing up local transport plans. It may be that one authority decides simply not to co-operate with work to put together a good bus strategy across the whole area, and that causes enormous problems in efforts to improve and integrate public transport in an area. For example, in my local area in South Yorkshire, the current system means that transport plans are probably put together by people on the passenger transport executive; the plans are then sent back to the metropolitan councils—Doncaster in my case—who will then agree that the transport plans should go forward and who have a duty to implement them. So, once a transport plan is agreed, there is a duty to implement it.

One of the points made to us is that that process is sometimes frustrated and people end up with a watered-down plan across an area. Representations about that point have been made when I have met people in local areas. People from all political parties have raised that issue—it is not something said just by people of one political persuasion; it is something many people have said to me. If we are to have a truly integrated transport approach, it is important to set up within these areas new integrated transport authorities, which would have the power to implement the agreed policies over the range of the area for which they are responsible.

Clause 12 establishes the key role that integrated transport authorities—the successors to PTAs—must play in their areas. That means the duties to develop transport policies and to produce, review and update a local transport plan will in future lie with the integrated transport authority in an integrated transport area. The duty to carry out statutory functions so as to implement those policies will continue to apply to individual local authorities in an IT area as well as to the IT authorities themselves. Again, that replicates the existing situation  in which, as I have said, individual metropolitan district councils, such as Doncaster in South Yorkshire, have a duty to carry out their transport functions—for example, in relation to parking or management of the road network. Outside the integrated transport areas, responsibility for the local transport plan will remain with individual local authorities, such as county councils.

The change we are proposing to make in our major cities will enable there to be decision making that is more decisive in identifying transport needs and implementing solutions. By giving the duty to produce local transport plans to the integrated transport authority, we will encourage stronger and more strategic transport planning.