Memorandum by Central and West Lancashire
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TYP 6)
By way of background Central and West Lancashire
Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents 1,200 business members
in every industry sector and covering every size of company. The
majority of these members are small businessesthe seedbed
of the future prosperity of the United Kingdom. We are a fully
Accredited Chamber of Commerce providing a core range of high
quality business support services.
We consider the development of transport policy
as essential to secure the economic vitality of the North West
and Central and West Lancashire in particular. The external links
from the northwest to the principal markets in the rest of the
United Kingdom and the Continent depend on the West Coast Main
Line, the M6, and the M62. To secure the efficient use of scarce
resources it is necessary to ensure that the use of the different
modes can contribute to the total economic needs of the area in
a way that will be of positive benefit to commerce and industry.
Traffic congestion has economic and environment costs that cannot
be tolerated in the long term.
We seek to develop a better understanding with
our members and the wider business community of the need to recognise
both the existing problems and those that will become increasingly
evident if the predicted increase in the levels of traffic on
our roads cannot be managed and reduced. We believe that simply
building roads is not the answer although we consider that there
is a clear case for some road building (either specific by-pass
projects or incomplete links in the total strategic road network)
where this will create environmental, social, and financial benefits.
Our response is detailed as follows:
In order to make full and efficient use of existing
capacity and to provide for anticipated growth in demand for passenger
transport, the Government must build upon the 10-Year Transport
Plan to deliver an integrated and sustainable transport system
which delivers real choice across different modes of transport.
Isolated measures at the periphery will do little to improve the
long-term transport infrastructure of the UK.
It is clear that transport policy does not stand
alone but has to be integrated into every element of central and
local government decision making. The Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions has a responsibility to keep transport
issues at the heart of all government policy decisions irrespective
of traditional departmental responsibilities. The Treasury, for
example, must adopt fiscal measures that give a positive encouragement
to public transport and rail freight; the Department for Education
and Skills must tackle the growth of transport to and from school
by car even if this means reviewing the freedoms that parental
choice in schools have brought; DEFRA must consider transport
issues and their availability in rural areas.
This list is indicative rather than exhaustive.
However none of these matters mentioned fall within the remit
of the DTLR, and for that reason we believe that an integrated
approach within the Government itself is required.
At a local level it is essential that land-use
planning, and environmental, urban regeneration, and economic
development policies are integrated in a way that recognises the
transport implication of decisions on such matters.
Transport planning needs more input from business.
In particular, and I throw this one in the hat for consideration,
Government could stipulate that detailed consultation with business
is a statutory requirement of local authorities regarding all
issues relating to transport planning and expenditure if and when
local congestion charging with hypothecation is established.
We have identified six key priorities for transport
Firstly the time lag between identifying needs
and building infrastructure is too long. The planning system needs
to be significantly speeded up to encourage the private sector
to develop facilities and infrastructure. An early response is
needed on planning proposals, together with improved support and
guidance for applicants.
Secondly there would appear to be a lack of
co-ordination in planning the links between modes of transport.
Because land use planning is an important element in encouraging
public transport use we believe that there needs to be a more
sympathetic planning system that looks to integrate more fully
road, rail, sea, and air facilities.
Thirdly, an effective and reliable public transport
network is essential to help reduce urban traffic congestion.
The reliability and speed of public transport are key features
for any regime to increase its attractiveness. Planning priorities,
therefore, must be to improve the effectiveness and reliability
of public transport services.
Fourth, there is adequate prioritisation between
transport schemes. Transport and planning schemes must recognise
as a priority the importance of transport decisions to business
locations. The planning system needs to be significantly speeded
up to encourage the private sector to develop facilities and infrastructure.
An early response is needed on planning proposals, together with
improved support and guidance for applicants.
Fifth, we want to see more coordination between
the regions on major projects, such as rail links and upgrading
of trunk roads. This will be an essential factor in quickening
the pace with which planning issues are resolved.
And finally, transport planning needs more input
from business. This could be achieved by Government stipulating
that detailed consultation with business is a statutory requirement
of local authorities regarding all issues relating to transport
planning and expenditure if and when local congestion charging
with hypothecation is established.
Secondly local authorities could be required
to establish a business presence on council committees relating
to transport and planning by co-opting a representative of the
business community to sit on such committees;
And finally, local authorities could be required
to establish a panel of business representatives to discuss with
officers and councillors a variety of issues to include transport
and planning that are of concern to business.
We recognise that sufficient additional public
funding is unlikely to be forthcoming. We do believe, however,
that funding could be improved by better use of the present tax
system and allowing local authorities to ring fence expenditure.
Government should maintain a full commitment to subsidising those
transport services which meet an essential social need but do
not generate enough activity to make them self-financing.
Government raises considerably more from all
transport-related taxes than is spent on transport infrastructure
provision and maintenance. We strongly support the hypothecation
of a proportion of transport taxation to fund additional investment
in public transport. There is a strong argument that revenue raised
by Government from all forms of transport taxation should be hypothecated.
Transport taxes should incorporate much stronger
environmental and social criteria. They should focus on fuel and
road use, pollution, and resource use whilst still retaining a
tax on vehicle ownership.
Local transport issues must be addressed at
a local level. Local authorities must be ensured continuity of
finance to enable the completion of their own particular medium
to long term schemes within the context of an overall national
The number of ring-fenced provisions within
the local transport plan settlement should be reduced to allow
local authorities greater flexibility and responsiveness to local
Government should recognise the burden placed
on local authorities in assembling and undertaking design work
in advance of schemes being acceptedthe introduction of
a basic "headroom" allocation would help alleviate these
Government should also think "long term"
by indicating the likely resource levels for a longer period (three
years?) which would grant local authorities some measure of certainty
to aid their planning process and allow more effective use of
4. REDUCING THE
Reducing the need to travel in absolute terms
must be a central feature of future policy. It is not an easy
option. It is particularly important to recognise that in a age
of greater flexibility in the labour market, with "jobs for
life" no longer being the norm, but where there is greater
inflexibility in the housing market, it is likely that people
will choose to travel when changing jobs rather than choose to
move house. This will often create journeys that public transport
cannot easily replicate.
In the short term, therefore, it is likely that
demand management will be more directed to maximising the efficiency
of existing networks. This could be achieved if the Government
will work with Chambers of Commerce and other business organisations
to develop awareness campaigns that promote more effective transport
management (encouraging employers to stagger working hours by
greater use of flexi-working for example). We would urge the introduction
of taxation measures to encourage businesses to invest in technology
for developing tele-working.
We recognise the need to manage the demand for
greater car use and know that this will bring difficult political
decisions. It will be difficult to make a policy of increasing
the costs of private motoring acceptable without demonstrating
the availability of real alternatives.
We have reservations about motorway tolling
and road pricing at present: the implications of such measures
should be much more carefully researched.
Where company cars are used for legitimate business
purposes, and where alternatives do not exist, it would not be
appropriate to penalise such use.
Road transport policy should be based on setting
national targets for reducing traffic levels over the short and
medium term. Targets should be set locally but with regard to
national targets. There should be increased opportunity for local
authorities, acting in partnership with business and communities,
to determine the means by which these local targets are set and
Some targets should be "top down"
(eg accident prevention) and others "bottom up" (eg
6. PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The reliability and speed of public transport
are key features for any regime to increase its attractiveness.
Where priorities can improve the effectiveness and reliability
of bus services, they will bring both economic and environmental
benefits. As a priority, parking and interchange facilities should
be increased to enable transfer between modes and encourage use
of public transport.
We believe that an effective and reliable public
transport network is essential to help reduce town centre congestion.
It would be sensible to give public transport systems priority
use of road space and, therefore, priorities within town centres
must be to increase the public transport network at the expense
of non-essential traffic.
We support the principle of Quality Partnerships
but believe that additional resources must be made available to
Local Authorities to enable further development of measures to
increase park and ride, public transport schemes, and traffic
calming as part of an overall package of measures.
We also believe that the previous rebate of
duty payable on diesel used for local bus services should be increased
as a percentage to reduce the cost of running services. This would
reduce the pressure on fare increases and provide a clear indication
of the Government's intention to promote the greater use of public
transport and investment in service improvements.
7. REGIONAL AIRPORTS
Passengers and freight should be moved from
their point of origin and not have to travel to airports in the
South East. This can only be done by increasing the role of regional
airports and removing the bias towards airports in the south east.
We are concerned at the way regional flights
to and from the UK's principal international airports are being
squeezed out of the market by capacity constraints. We were particularly
concerned that the previous Government could not be persuaded
to protect dedicated landing and take-off slots for regional flights
at both airports. Indeed the previous Government took the view
that ring fencing of regional flights would be a retrograde step.
Passengers and freight should be moved from
their point of origin and not have to travel to Heathrow. This
can only be done by increasing the role of regional airports and
removing the bias towards airports in the south east.
Whilst we fully support the status of Manchester
as the region's gateway airport we nevertheless believe that business
travellers need greater and more flexible options for direct air
travel to airports in the South East from our smaller regional
The Government should do two things to improve
the contributions of our local airports to regional competitiveness.
Firstly, and as a matter of priority, a study to assess the economic
benefits of improving air links from our regional airports into
our principal international airports must be commissioned; and
secondly, the Government should strongly consider the option of
"ring fencing" access and departure slots for our regional
services into our international airports.
Car parking policies in urban areas are a particular
problem. While recognising the importance of parking policies
we are anxious to ensure that local authorities do not become
involved in sterile and destructive competition between themselves
in seeking to introduce parking policies that will encourage greater
travel by car or will re-direct economic activity by urban centres.
We believe that this will inevitably require a regional understanding
of the general direction of transport and planning policies, on
which the Government should give a clear lead.
9. RURAL COMMUNITIES
Special exceptions must be made to rural communities
where public transport is not viable. In such areas increased
road costs could lead to severe social and economic difficulties.
In rural areas greater use of different types
of transport should be encouraged eg Post Buses, public use of
School buses, and voluntary sector transport.
10. PUBLIC AWARENESS
The Government should undertake a national public
awareness and schools education programme, similar to those that
discourage smoking and drink driving in order to promote the benefits
of adopting a sustainable transport strategy and the means to
achieve it. At the same time Government must explain the likely
social, economic, and environmental consequences of not doing
Travel awareness campaigns should be coordinated
nationally in a similar manner to the approach adopted with road