New transport body for county
Priorities for major road and rail schemes will in future be set by a new local body called Transport for Lancashire, giving local representatives a bigger say on improvements in the area.Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council, have joined forces with the private sector-led Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create Transport for Lancashire (TfL) to develop, approve and fund major transport schemes with a multi-million budget to be devolved by the Department for Transport (DfT) from 2015/16.
The government announced its intention to hand power to new local transport bodies last year as part of its localism agenda.Transport for Lancashire is a committee of the LEP at which the leaders of each council meet with the LEP chairman and vice-chairman to ensure future transport schemes support economic development.
Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "As a committee of the LEP, Transport for Lancashire will allow the private and public sectors to speak with one voice to ensure we get the best possible deal for the area."Businesses will only choose to invest in Lancashire if they know their employees and goods can travel efficiently and the investments that Transport for Lancashire delivers will be vital for our economy to flourish."
Transport for Lancashire is currently considering a long-list of candidate schemes and will shortly announce which of them it will take forward as priorities.Each scheme will have to undergo full appraisal and demonstrate that it will achieve value for money in order to eventually receive funding.
County Councillor Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council and chair of Transport for Lancashire, said: "This marks a very significant change in the way decisions will be made about the infrastructure and services we need to support our economy and create local jobs."Until now local councils have funded new transport schemes largely by submitting bids to the DfT on a scheme by scheme basis, but now we'll have a good indication of the available budget for the next ten years and be able to deliver more strongly on local priorities.
"We'll still need to demonstrate that each scheme will achieve on its promise, and be good value for money, but working with the private sector through the LEP will create much greater certainty for our residents and potential investors."Cllr Maureen Bateson, executive member for Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and member of Transport for Lancashire Committee said: “Today’s announcement offers the opportunity of further capital investment in Blackburn with Darwen’s transport infrastructure in support of jobs and communities. Equally as important is that the formation of this body signals a new way of working with partners to bring greater financial benefits and real decision-making powers back to local people across Lancashire who are better placed to understand the needs of their areas, and this has to be welcomed.” Cllr John Jones, cabinet member for highways and transport at Blackpool Council, said: "There’s so much overlap when it comes to transport across the county, it makes perfect sense that we work with our neighbouring authorities to maximise the benefits for all of our residents and visitors."