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TfN must not reduce powers available to local transport authorities – WYCA

A limitation on the use of concurrent powers by Transport for the North (TfN) must be included in the order to make it a statutory body to ensure powers to local areas remain protected, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has said.

TfN is due to be established as a statutory body by the end of 2016. Its constitution is currently being agreed, but it is envisaged powers including setting the objectives and priorities for the rail investment programme and determining the franchise rail service specification will be devolved to it.

But in a paper published ahead of the WYCA annual meeting tomorrow says it was noted that to facilitate the development and implementation of its Transport Strategy, TfN would “likely require the ability to exercise concurrently seven powers of the Combined Authorities, Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) or Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) that would enable it to be a real vehicle for transport devolution rather than an advisory body”.

However, it is not intended that the use of concurrent powers would reduce the powers available to local areas, and “the intention is that TfN would only exercise these powers with the explicit agreement of the Local Transport Authority in question”.

WYCA added that it is “important that this limitation is contained within the order”. The combined authority also said: “TfN should articulate clearly the case for concurrent powers over the (more inclusive) model of each local transport authority exercising its own power to the same effect.”

It adds that local transport authorities should be consulted on the draft proposals for the constitution before they are submitted to the government.

In addition, WYCA says that the current draft constitution lacks private sector involvement and that TfN should consider how to facilitate better involvement of LEPs in its development.

The paper also adds that an ongoing consultation on delivering the economic benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail for the Leeds City Region has agreed that it should include stops at York and between Leeds and Manchester.

The consultation, between WYCA and district and business powers in Leeds, says that improving connectivity between the six major cities in the north and Manchester Airport is vital.

It says that developments beyond Northern Powerhouse Rail are needed to supply the required level of connectivity, including the new Northern and TransPennine franchises and the TransPennine electrification project, which has been subject to delays.

It also says that, in addition, importance should be given to connections between Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and local connections.

The consultation is due to be completed by the end of July, when its findings will input into the Northern Powerhouse Rail work stream.

WYCA is also leading work streams on integrated smart travel and local strategic connectivity. These are mainly funded by TfN, but WYCA is also supplying £1.85m of funding.

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Noam Bleicher   23/06/2016 at 11:42

What exactly are the powers which are being debated? What are the concerns of LAs over conflicts between them and CAs? Without some examples it's difficult to take anything from this article, well-written though it is. For example, would an LA be able to scupper plans for region-wide bus priority network, by insisting on lots of on-street parking in their area?

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