The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) criticises local authorities' attitudes to transport funding and reveals that 59% of local authorities do not see transport as one of their highest priorities, despite 82% predicting congestion will be worse in 10 years' time. Two-thirds of authorities (62%) admit that transport funding gets diverted into other budgets.
Commission chair, Professor David Begg, said: 'I am extremely concerned that money allocated for transport is not being spent. It is clear some local authorities do not give transport the high priority reflected in the bigger allocations Government is giving them.
'Local authority budgets are now being set so this early warning comes at a crucial time – they should use the money for transport or lose it. Transport schemes that are going to make a difference to our communities can be contentious. The public do not like giving up road space to cyclists, pedestrians or to bus priority measures.'
Begg cited the claimed early success of congestion charging as an example of a local authority which has braved a torrent of criticism in order to push through a radical scheme.
He said: 'Local politicians need to be brave and decisive. They need to drive forward projects confident that, as with pedestrianisation, the public will soon appreciate the benefits.' Begg called on the Government to get tough to ensure that money is being spent where it was allocated, adding more funds should be apportioned out to authorities that hit set transport targets.