I wish to inform the House of the plans to publish next month detailed guidance on the operation of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, for which £560 million has been set aside in the four-year period to 2014-15. Coupled with the funding local authorities will receive through the Integrated Transport and Highways Maintenance Blocks, which I am announcing today, this represents almost £5 billion funding for small local transport schemes over the next four years.
The establishment of the LSTF reflects the importance the Government attach to helping build locally a strong economy and addressing at a local level the urgent challenge of climate change and the commitment made in the coalition agreement to promoting sustainable travel initiatives.
The guidance will invite local transport authorities in England (outside London) to apply for funding to support the cost of a range of sustainable travel measures. Packages might, for example, include measures that promote walking and cycling, encourage modal shift, manage effectively demands on the network, secure better traffic management, improve road safety and improve access and mobility for local communities.
The guidance will also set out the criteria against which decisions on the allocation of funding will be taken. The criteria will include meeting the core objectives of supporting economic growth and reducing carbon. Bids will also need to demonstrate value for money, deliverability and affordability of package proposals.
We have set aside the following LSTF funding over the next four financial years:
We wish to support as many local transport authorities as possible through the fund.
This fund will also support Bikeability training in each financial year and the following projects in 2011-12 only in order to maintain momentum on sustainable travel while local authorities prepare their proposals:
£13 million for Links to Schools, Bike Club and walking to school initiatives;
£1 million for Transport Direct cycle journey planner; and
£250,000 to take forward business to business initiatives on alternatives to travel.
Authorities will be able to bid for small packages of under £5 million and larger packages of up to £50 million over the fund period, but will only be able to be successful with one bid.
The application process is being designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible with the flexibility to deal with proposals to the fund of different complexity and scale. Local authorities will also be given a choice as to when to apply to the fund in recognition that they will be at different levels of readiness to submit proposals, with two rounds of bidding; one closing in April, the other at a later date.
I am writing today to local transport authorities in England (outside London) inviting them to start preparing and developing their proposals and to consider what skills and resources they will require. Bids from local transport authorities will be particularly welcome if they can demonstrate support from, and the involvement of, voluntary and community organisations, and the private sector. The ability to lever in financial contributions from external sources will also be taken into account in assessing value for money.