Transport for the South East (TfSE) has submitted a bid to become the second statutory sub-national transport body with direct influence over government decision-making.
If the bid is approved by the transport secretary, TfSE would join Transport for the North as a statutory body with the powers needed to deliver major improvements to the South East’s transport network under its 30-year strategy.
The powers and responsibilities TfSE is seeking would allow the partnership to:
- Develop and implement a Strategic Investment Plan for the region
- Act as ‘one voice’ for the South East in agreeing investment priorities with the Secretary of State for Transport
- Become a statutory partner in road and rail investment decisions
- Improve bus services for passengers and provide improved alternatives to car travel
- Co-ordinate the delivery of region-wide integrated smart ticketing
- Implement road charging schemes linked to Clean Air Zones to improve quality of life for people in the South East
As a sub-national transport body without statutory status, TfSE can advise and produce collaborative transport strategies for the region but local authorities hold the financial and delivery responsibilties under law.
The bid has the backing of the South East’s local authorities and local economic partnerships (LEPs) representing more than 7.5m people and 300,000 businesses.
Chambers of commerce, transport operators, ports, airports, protected landscapes and universities have also given their support, TfSE said, as have national organisations including the Confederation of British Industry and passenger watchdog Transport Focus.
Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: 'Our transport strategy sets out how investment in a more sustainable transport network will help our economy recover and grow, delivering a green transport revolution that will create jobs, boost quality of life and help cut carbon emissions to net-zero.
'Transport for the South East has quickly emerged as a powerful and effective partnership for our region, but delivering on our ambitions will require more than just partnership working. That’s why we want to formalise our role as the South East’s voice for strategic transport by becoming a statutory body.
'Statutory status will mean we can work with government to decide how and where money is spent on our region’s transport network and give us the powers we need to accelerate schemes and projects which are better for people, better for business and better for the planet.'
TfSE's aims to publish a regional strategic investment plan in 2022 based on a series of area studies.
It was formed in 2017 and brings together 16 local transport authorities and five local economic partnerships along with other partners including Network Rail and Highways England to speak with one voice on the region.