Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witness (Questions 600 - 608)

WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002

MR STEPHEN JOSEPH

Andrew Bennett

  600. You heard the exchange about congestion charging and workplace parking schemes. It looks as though they are all going down the pan now. What can you do to reverse this and persuade local authorities to get on with them?
  (Mr Joseph) What we wanted to see, as we have said in the evidence, is clear government leadership in this respect. The Government cannot pretend that it can solve transport problems by providing public transport as an alternative and building more roads. The Multi-Modal Studies themselves say it will not work. But also you cannot provide better bus services unless you take some of the space way from cars and give buses priority. Even at that level we will need to have some restraint of traffic. Congestion charging and workplace parking charges have the added benefit that they produce a revenue stream which can pay for better public transport and certainly cities like Nottingham, despite large scale pressure from some elements in the business community, seem very keen on using those powers. What we have seen is a wholesale lack of support from government. What we have been trying to do through our local groups is alert people to the consequences of what happens if you do not have this sort of charging at this level. Certainly in London that is what we need.

  601. Do you think you are going to have an impact on the decision in London or do you think it is touch and go?
  (Mr Joseph) I think that however important we in Transport 2000 think we are, our involvement in this is only going to be one small element in the decision. We do believe that congestion charging in London is right. If anything, we would like to see it extended in terms of area and charge.

  602. Is it not more important to get it working somewhere?
  (Mr Joseph) Yes, we do think it is very important to get it working somewhere and we have been very supportive of the authorities that are planning to do this such as Nottingham as well as in London.

  603. Skill shortages; how much of the plan is at risk because there are not really the skilled people to do it?
  (Mr Joseph) It depends on which elements of the plan you are talking about.

  604. You tell me which bits are in trouble.
  (Mr Joseph) I do not think the road building elements are in trouble. There seem to be lots of firms prepared to lay some concrete out there and design roads. I think the real concerns are about skills shortages at a local authority level, particularly in effective consultation techniques and bringing people together to decide on local schemes, and also on the public transport side in terms of planning public transport and indeed at an operational level in terms of the driving of trains and buses.

Chairman

  605. What would be the things you would change if you rewrote the plan? You would say the common pot should not be divided the way it is at the moment, the Multi-Modal Studies should ensure that the roads are not built before the transport system is there; what else?
  (Mr Joseph) We would like to see some targeting of traffic. There are some key concerns that traffic itself is a problem. We would like to see constant motoring costs rather than reductions. I think we would like to see some real emphasis on packages of small-scale measures which we think can provide a real alternative both to road building and to traffic growth.

Andrew Bennett

  606. Can you give us one example?
  (Mr Joseph) Yes, we have looked at what the employer travel plans are producing. This has only been going for a few years now, but we have looked at 20 employer schemes and they seem, even within two or three years, to be producing real reductions in car use of something of the order of ten per cent minimum, in some cases as much as 20 per cent.

  607. This is car sharing, is it?
  (Mr Joseph) It involves a long list of measures. It includes car sharing so it is not about saying to employees you cannot commute by car but it is making car sharing possible by matching people together and by providing a guaranteed ride home if car sharing does not work and employer provided bus services and cycle parking and showers and changing areas at work. There is a vast range of measures. These seem to be very effective and they are particularly effective if the local authority do other things such as quality bus partnerships and cycle routes in areas outside the factory gates, as it were.

Chairman

  608. So the opinion is that the plan is written from the wrong angle, it has got all the wrong priorities and needs to be rewritten from the ground up, or do I exaggerate?
  (Mr Joseph) I think there are some elements in the Ten Year Plan—local transport money and so on—that are fine. It is the emphasis on big schemes as opposed to small schemes that is the particular problem.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed for your evidence. The Committee stands adjourned.





 
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