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Transport for the North

From Adrian Riley

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Be careful what you wish for

Transport for the North has just been given legal statutory status on 1st April and an £80 million annual budget. It is the first body outside of London to be given statutory powers over strategic transport investment decisions.

This TfN is now working on 7 "Strategic Development Corridors". 

Whatever one thinks of their plans, my concern is that local democracy is being eroded. We already have a Leeds City Region which influences much of what happens locally and now we have this new statutory body. Soon there will be a Northern government of some kind. 

But what value will these institutions be to the ordinary voter, when it is difficult enough to influence Calderdale Council. If we are not careful we will find the whole Northern show being a "Strategic Development Club of the Influential", with the public excluded from any meaningful say.

From Tim M

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Not quite true. The new body is accountable to local leaders, and represents power being devolved (in a rare move) from Westminster to the North yet at the same time brings a proper strategic view to our transport. As someone who commutes regularly  across the county boundary South Yorkshire, I can see the advantages of a more joined up approach. Now we just need the new body to have the funding London has...

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Neither of these views have got it about right. Transport for the North have just finished a consultation period on their proposed strategy, and if you want you can read six reasonably detailed articles and critiques about different aspects of this on a website I operate here. One of them is titled 'does the TfN strategy pass the crucial carbon test?', and during the consultation I was a coordinator of a group of environmental transport organisations asking important questions like this. You can download the ‘10 Core Responses from environmental transport organisations' to that strategy here.

As to accountability and governance I also had some correspondence with the chief executive of TfN about the fact that its Partnership Board (because TfN has two) - the one that will be discussing what happens to the direction its strategy takes, and which schemes it favours or does not - is proposed to continue still to meet in private. This means that even the leader of Calderdale Council won't be entitled to attend those meetings, let alone the likes of environmental campaigners; so it's only theoretically the case that 'the new body is accountable to local leaders as Tim asserts.

From Tim M

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Agreed, it's not perfect. But, nevertheless a step in the right direction with an opportunity for our region to determine its own priorities, albeit perhaps less ambitiously than first promised. Certainly more chance of improving public transport across the North than if left to Chris Grayling.