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


Memorandum by Hampshire County Council (TYP 51)

INTRODUCTION

  1.  Hampshire County Council (HCC) welcomes the opportunity to submit its views to the Transport Sub-Committee of the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee to support investigations into the 10 Year Plan.

GENERAL

  2.  HCC supports the Government's vision to provide a transport system that sustains international, national and local interests; meets aspirations for economic prosperity, a healthy physical and social environment and efficient movement of goods and people; and minimises the adverse effects on the environment, caters for the needs of the community and meets sustainability objectives.

  3.  The County of Hampshire is strategically important in transport terms, providing a gateway into the country through the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth and the regional airport at Southampton. The County has good connections to the strategic road and rail network, however, the transport network is seen as inconvenient and unreliable, with a focus on private road-based travel and development (car and commercial vehicles). Congestion is a concern and is estimated to be costing Hampshire's economy around £150 million every year in lost time and productivity. Recent studies have estimated that half of Hampshire's roads will be over capacity and subject to delays by 2020. The rail network already suffers from congestion in the Basingstoke and Southampton areas. Proposed expansion of Southampton airport, and at the ports of Southampton at Dibden Bay and Portsmouth, will exacerbate the issues unless committed and continued investment comes forward.

  4.  Whilst HCC recognises that investment in the transport network is key to success, the need to influence travel behaviour and encourage lifestyle changes is also an intrinsic part of the process. Delivery of the programme cannot on its own ensure targets are met, and integrated transport requires coherent and integrated investment programmes to secure change. The fragmented nature of the current arrangements is not helpful and may jeopardise the ability of the Plan to be effective. In addition, transport is no respecter of administrative boundaries and any solutions developed must reflect lifestyle today and of future generations. New and more innovative solutions need to be investigated, both in terms of infrastructure and services, together with better co-ordination of investment across all modes and sectors, and management of transport operations. These must be supported by a range of non-transport, or "soft policy", measures that begin to address the lifestyle and behavioural issue, and clearer responsibilities for transport to instil public confidence. HCC has received numerous accolades for its innovative stance towards the delivery of transport investment and will continue to develop policy initiatives, use technology and engage the community, in its widest sense, in promoting understanding, acceptance and support.

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

  5.  In answer to the specific questions raised we make the following response:

Assumptions

Assumptions that should be Modified or Challenged

  6.  It is important to remember that the Plan is based on assumptions that are likely to alter over time and the Plan will need to adapt, notably in response to the changing dynamics of the global trading economy. The fiscal and pricing mechanism for transport still needs to be addressed, given the end of the fuel duty escalator and the disparity in user payment systems in operation for road and rail. Plans to increase bus use, freight moved by rail to/from ports and other targets are dependent on whether the present transport system will be able to cope with the demand, and threats to economic viability exist from the growing impact of congestion.

  7.  However, the focus on congestion on the inter-urban network addresses the symptoms and not the real causes of travel that are linked to geography, social and economic activities, centralisation of services, such as education, defence and health, and the divorcing of these from the home, creating location mismatch. Congestion occurs in many cities and towns often associated with travel to work and school, but one of the fastest growth areas in travel is that of leisure that will need different solutions to address it. Rail, too, experiences bottlenecks and suffers from overcrowding. The management of the road network is but part of the solution, and travel behaviour as well as other sectors need to be included to better account for the supply and demand chains. The Departments of Education, Health, and the Home Office have similar objectives to that of the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and these would benefit from greater cohesion, linkage and co-ordination.

Congestion Charging and Workplace Parking Levy

  8.  The 10 Year Plan envisages the introduction of congestion and workplace parking levy schemes, but political and public acceptability suggest that these are unlikely to be forthcoming in the Plan period, especially outside of London, unless there are clear indications that choice is available and the revenue raised will be re-invested in developing improved services. HCC participates in the Charging Development Partnership and has commissioned a number of studies in the area. Recent questionnaire surveys reveal that attitudes are softening, particularly towards congestion charging.

Outcome to the Plan and Changes

  9.  The assumptions used within the Plan are tools to assist the decision-making process. Whilst this is helpful, more critical is the means to carry out the task in terms of finance, resources, management and operation.

Available Skills and Capacity

  10.  A number of barriers exist to the delivery of the Plan, including managing public expectations and fragmentation from the number and range of agencies involved, especially in the management of transport that raises concerns over co-operation, co-ordination, monitoring and the level and size of the spatial unit at which this should take place. The management of road, rail, sea and air travel needs to be better co-ordinated to meet common strategic aims and objectives and operate in a complementary way. The creation of a virtual transport authority at the regional level and strategic management outside of the political arena for road and rail similar to the Civil Aviation Authority would help in this regard.

  11.  Projects of national importance and related to the strategic transport system, such as Dibden Bay, require strategic infrastructure provision and the involvement of strategic agencies. An example is the absence of the Highways Agency from discussions over the proposed port that, should it go ahead, will require high quality road and rail access. The handling of Detrunking is another issue that requires a more proactive response from the Highways Agency.

  12.  The planning and procurement process could be further streamlined, but requires due account to be taken of democratic rights, bureaucratic constraints and transparency. Issues surrounding community involvement and acceptance of decisions can and do cause delays. Effective management of the participatory process is required to ensure ownership and scheme delivery.

  13.  The sudden increase in the value of the capital programmes has inspired new ways of working to improve efficiency and effectiveness of resources. HCC has made significant strides to meet the increase in workload through partnership working with the private sector covering policy, engineering and delivery of transport schemes, and is focusing on improving its public engagement, project management and appraisal in-house through connections with academia and elsewhere to overcome shortfalls.

  14.  Skill shortages remain an issue largely from competition in the market place, where demand is exceeding supply. Adjustments are needed to meet business requirements in areas of project management, construction, marketing and promotion, monitoring, and drivers of commercial and passenger vehicles, as well as in the understanding of people and the influencing of behaviour. To meet this demand requires changes to work practices, re-skilling, examination of rewards and overcoming shortages in affordable housing.

Implementation

Railway Industry Impact on Finance

  15.  The present situation in the rail industry is creating uncertainty, leading to an environment that is not conducive to investment in the sector. The lack of past investment, backlog of maintenance and introduction of safety measures, number of operating companies, meeting of commercial objectives, franchise periods and re-franchising negotiations are all inhibiting progress on new projects. There are few incentives to shift transport haulage from road to rail, and capacity, gauge and track cost issues need to be overcome. Long term investment, an early resolution to a successor to Railtrack and consistency in management style are required to bring more certainty.

Balance and Phasing of Investment

  16.  The balance of expenditure in the Plan is towards rail, rather than with other modes, and we do not disagree with this approach, given the need to address safety, management and operations within the rail industry that will require further investment from Central Government. The single capital pot allocation will have an impact on available finance for transport, as will unexpected events such as prevention of terrorism measures, and inevitably lead to its redistribution from other modes and sectors. However, due regard must be paid to community requirements, such as for local bus services, reduction in road casualties, road and footway maintenance and better management of existing roads. Account is also required of aspirations, including overcoming bottlenecks and pinch points such as on the M27, improving the strategic rail and road network, including the M3 and A34 junction at Winchester, and the M4/A34 junction at Chieveley, car parking at railway stations, more capacity on passenger rail services to London and flight availability at Southampton International Airport. Our research supports this view (Mori Hampshire Residents' Survey, 1999; Best Value User Satisfaction Survey, 2000; Hard to Reach Groups Survey, 2001; Hampshire Economic Partnership, 2001). HCC has already redirected monies from its LTP settlement, particularly to halt deterioration of the condition of the road network and reduce the backlog at the expense of new works to meet these needs, and to allow assessment of the nature and quality of workload and mobilisation arising from the enhanced capital programme. Nevertheless, it would be helpful if Central Government set priorities for expenditure to ensure a balance across and between modes, perhaps through a framework approach to provide clarity over priorities of a strategic nature, direction, leadership and co-ordination to implementing agencies to take forward initiatives, such as road user charging as well as to avoid the drip feed of guidance, and short-term political expediency.

Flexible Financing Arrangements

  17.  HCC welcomed the introduction of revised financing arrangements under the Local Transport Plan (LTP) that has provided flexibility in the finance of transport projects, allowing pooling of finance from different sources over longer periods, and we are pursuing a Public Private Partnership through the South Hampshire Rapid Transit SHRT, but this money is still subject to macroeconomic and political control that requires continued support to ensure its success. We have already mentioned the issue of redistribution of money. A further area of concern is that of grant assistance for new projects, such as the Rural and Urban Bus Challenge, co-ordinators of school and workplace travel plans, pedestrian skill training and the continuation of funding to consolidate and exploit the investment received, especially where it transfers from capital to the revenue account.

Multi-Modal Studies

  18.  Overall the multi-modal studies (MMS) are supported in principle as an effective means of considering a full range of transport issues across a particular corridor. There is, however, the potential for a lack of clarity about the relationship with the Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) and LTP. It is vitally important that the various local and regional strategies are complementary and close liaison between the partners involved is maintained. The MMS have also been disappointing in their lack of vision, concentration on the traditional peak hour activity, and failure to address non car-based modes, growth in leisure travel and account for impacts of proposed outcomes on the local network and how any proposed changes will interact.

  19.  Some of the MMS (notably the South Coast MMS (SoCoMMS)) do not follow a natural corridor. In these cases the role of the Local Action Plans need to be given particular priority. Within south Hampshire, for instance, the local strategy and programmes are already well developed and HCC would not expect SoCoMMS to come up with anything radically different.

  20.  There is also some concern about the links between the various MMS. An example of this is the proposed dualling of the A303/M3 corridor. There is clearly an impact from the potential of additional traffic attracted to this corridor in the north of Hampshire, where congestion is a particular issue. Although this can be picked up in the Thames Valley MMS, it is important that recommendations emerging from studies take account of their wider impact.

  21.  In addition, the MMS need to relate better to other projects and studies, such as road schemes and light rail. Whilst welcoming the proposals there is need for studies to take better account of wider impacts. For instance, the A3 Hindhead study examined funding of the scheme through user charging that did not account for strategic appraisal of the impacts of tolling along the A3 corridor as a whole. Another is the M27. HCC's overall position was that the study formed a useful starting point towards resolving some of the issues on the M27 corridor. There was, however, some concern about conducting a local study in advance of SoCoMMS. It was felt that the study did not fully grasp the issues of integration in south Hampshire, and in particular the full significance of SHRT (SHRT1 LRT), although the study changed from being road-based to looking at wider strategic transport issues in south Hampshire. Overall the options have been investigated in isolation and not as a package. In this respect the opportunity to maximise potential benefits may have been underestimated.

Balance between Large and Small Schemes, and between Infrastructure, Management and Operations

  22.  Inevitably, for a strategic document like the Plan the focus should be on projects that serve the national interest, but it would be helpful if guidance for regional and local direction was provided.

Targets

  23.  HCC contributes to the national targets through Best Value, the LTP and other initiatives, including community and inter-agency working, innovation in policy, technology and contracts, research and development, European funding and grant assistance, and potentially local public sector agreements. Examples include bus, LRT, road maintenance and casualty reduction.

Targets and Dates for Achievement/Other Targets

  24.  The targets and dates for their achievement within the Plan assist in focussing priorities but are not flexible enough to cope with changing circumstances. More clearly, specified objectives and targets that reflect inputs, outputs and outcomes, monitoring and evaluation would be helpful in this regard. HCC believes that, in order to meet the targets, considerable efforts need to be made. For instance, whilst the bus is the main form of public transport for local journeys, much remains to be done to make it an attractive, credible alternative to the car, particularly in rural areas. Our research shows that the bus is seen in a relatively poor light by many and a step change in the overall level of service and general image is necessary to bring about a transfer of trips from car to bus. At the same time, a greater penetration of bus services into both urban and rural areas is needed to encourage a modal shift away from the car, to help meet the travel needs of members of the community without access to a car, and to minimise the adverse social, environmental, and economic consequences of increasing traffic growth and congestion. Infrastructure programmes and bus service improvements will need to be supplemented by a concerted effort to improve information provision for potential passengers, integrated ticketing, and the marketing and promotion of bus services together with a programme of community involvement with local schools and businesses to encourage greater use of buses for their respective journeys.

  25.  Similarly, for the overall casualty reduction targets on Hampshire's roads by 2010 from the baseline of 1994-98, considerable effort needs to be deployed towards tackling speed related casualties, since speed remains the largest single cause of road casualties. HCC through its innovative Speed Management Partnership Strategy with Hampshire Constabulary and the appropriate deployment of safety cameras, believes that significant reductions in inappropriate speed and resultant casualties are achievable with the right combination of engineering, education and enforcement measures. However, a recent bid to Government for mobile camera deployment is yet to be accepted.[28]


Regional Approach

  26.  As previously mentioned, a criteria-based or framework approach would help to set regional and local priorities for action.

Integrated Transport Policy

  27.  In response to statutory requirements and in relation to the Government's modernising agenda, HCC has established a core set of integrated strategies linking together a number of current actions, including the development of the Community Strategy, the update of the Corporate Strategy, a new political structure and requirements of Best Value and e-government.

  28.  HCC has made significant progress on integrated transport, becoming a Centre of Excellence in 2001 and scoring "Above Average" in the 2001 LTP Annual Progress Review (APR). A summary of our LTP together with the APR are enclosed. The LTP can also be found on our Web site at www.hants.gov.uk/environment/ltp. Our LTP and integrated area transport strategies embrace streamlined, partnership working and integration of policy initiatives across sectors, vertically and horizontally, to ensure the successful delivery of its proposals. Our studies reveal that the LTP investment programmes will only bring about 24 per cent of the change needed to achieve a sustainable transport solution and that land use decisions will in turn only help meet around 5 per cent of the change. Importantly, lifestyle and behavioural change can account for 30 per cent of the shift needed for sustainable travel and must be addressed as part of any future transport strategy. HCC considers that a holistic approach to investment is required that recognises the role of Government, transport operators and providers, local businesses and the general public in helping to meet wider objectives. Community Transport, Leigh Park in Havant and the Winchester Movement and Access Plan (WMAP) are good examples of our practice.

  29.  Our community transport section has a number of initiatives to support both rural and urban communities in Hampshire. Examples include development plans with the health authorities, district councils and the voluntary sector; forums; databases; and transport services. Further information is provided in the enclosed document.

  30.  In response to deprivation in the Leigh Park area, agencies in Hampshire and the south east have been working for many years to improve conditions. Havant Borough Council has secured funds from the Single Regeneration Budget for a wide range of projects in the area tackling unemployment, low skill levels, poor housing, transport problems and drug abuse, and creating community facilities. On the transport side, the area has seen road safety measures introduced and the opening of a quality bus partnership. The partnership working was recently commended by the Government's Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Unit following a visit in 2001.

  31.  Conceived in 1989, WMAP is a joint HCC and Winchester City Council integrated transport strategy to guide transport policy and investment in the city of Winchester. It aims to overcome intrusive and problematic traffic movements and to make the city a pleasant place in which to live, work and visit, to give people priority, provide a vibrant local economy and protect the special character of the historic city in a sustainable way. It reflects a holistic, framework approach combining the existing attributes of good public transport interchange and compact built form with policy, technology and incremental change. Schemes are focussed on obtaining pedestrian priority, reallocating, managing road space, park and ride, and public transport, and information provision on buses and air quality. This has achieved a reduction in road traffic levels, although casual links are difficult to discern, and recognition through continued and enhanced Government funding. The winning of numerous awards, including Clearzone and Trailblazer, has lead to European project acceptance against stiff competition. Our latest European programme success is under City—Vitality Sustainability and project Multi Initiatives for Rationalised Accessibility and Clean Liveable Environments (CIVITAS/MIRACLES) to demonstrate low emission and energy efficiency. Further information is provided in the enclosed documents.

Balance of Social and Environmental Policy with Efficient Investment

  32.  The Plan does not balance well the social and environmental policy with efficient investment. Better account could be achieved through whole-lifecycle costings. HCC is currently examining ways of including such methodology by extending its project appraisal process.

Balanced Approach to all Modes

  33.  The Plan does not take a balanced approach to all modes. A move to framework approach with criteria would help to focus the Plan and identify priorities for investment.

Conflicts between the Plan and Policies in the White Paper: A New Deal for Transport

  34.  The Plan takes an isolationist's approach to transport. It does not fully account for land use and spatial planning to secure travel choice and mobility in ways that support sustainable development, or help to overcome policy dilemmas, such as use of cars and car parking. The finance of transport could be better addressed in terms of involvement of the private sector from developer contributions to Public Finance Initiatives.

What Impacts will Policies in the European White Paper on Transport have on the Plan?

  35.  Hampshire is currently preparing its response to the European White Paper on Transport, but recognises that this will have significant bearing on transport investment and operation in the Country and the County. In particular, the focus on the Trans-European Network, the need to obtain a better understanding of the transport pressures that create capacity constraints and congestion on the road and rail network, the economic pressures which shift the balance of freight transport from rail to road, the alignment of transport policy with economic policy, tackling the effects of transport globalisation, the emphasis on inter-modality of freight transport and the taxation regime for transport operators. The Plan will need to adjust to take these matters into consideration.



28   In February 2002 the Government accepted the Hampshire Safety Camera cost recovery operational case submission promoting a combined application of fixed and mobile camera deployment as a key means of reducing speed related casualties on Hampshire roads. Back


 
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