City leaders have put transport at the top of their agenda for additional spending, driven by concerns over climate change.
The Centre for Cities said half of urban council leaders and directly elected mayors contributing to the 2019 Centre for Cities/Arup 'Urban Voices' study cited tackling climate change as a top priority – ‘a sign that the Greta Effect has cut through the political agenda’.
However, it said concern about the climate crisis has impacted on leaders’ transport priorities, with 75% encouraging the public to ditch cars in favour of cycling and walking, and over half transitioning to more environmentally friendly council-owned vehicles.
While eight in ten (81%) urban political leaders would be willing to spend significant extra capital on combating the climate emergency – if it were provided by central government – 94% would allocate extra money from Government to public transport investment.
Chief executive Andrew Carter said: ‘Cities account for the majority of the country’s population and jobs but there is a concern in city halls that the urban agenda is being sidelined.
‘If cities are going to lead the way on important issues such as climate change then the next Government should give them the power and resources that they need.’
Joanna Rowelle, integrated city planning director at Arup said: ‘From improving air quality and public transport, to increasing affordable housing and employment opportunities as well as tackling climate change, this survey shows that our urban leaders are prepared to shoulder more responsibility in taking on the most pressing issues facing their communities.’
In the survey, more than two thirds (69%) of city leaders blamed insufficient funding as a barrier to action, while almost half (41%) cited deficiencies in national government as an obstacle.
Three-fifths (62%) of city leaders rated the support that Government gives to tackling city-specific issues as unsatisfactory.