The Welsh Government’s habit of announcing annual transport grants far into the financial year is forcing local authorities into focussing on smaller projects, council chiefs have warned.
On 15 May, the Government announced £27m of grants to unitary authorities for 2015-16, of which £15.7m was from the Local Transport Fund. This year’s announcement came even later in the financial year than last year’s, which was on 12 May.
The Welsh Local Government Association's director of regeneration and sustainable development, Tim Peppin, said: ‘We’re pleased that the announcement has been made. The projects now being delivered are on a smaller scale. Those are deliverable in the timescales. The fact there’s been a delay [to grant announcements] in recent years will have an effect on the way authorities think.’
An officer at one authority said: ‘We would like to know before April so we can get processes in place to hit the ground running. In reality we’ve got just over 10 months now to deliver. Some authorities, once they get their notification, have to get their projects approved by cabinet before they can start. If they miss their cabinet dates, they have to wait another month.’
Having such short delivery timescales influenced bids, he added: ‘We need to focus on the easiest schemes to deliver, which sometimes probably don’t benefit as many people as the more complicated schemes.’
The largest award from the transport fund was £1.87m for Isle of Anglesey CC to build the first section of a new road and purchase land for later sections.