A new report by former local authority officers is calling for the Government to step back from any national road pricing approaches and instead pursue a ‘permissive approach’ where local authorities are given more control.
The report by the New Local Government Network (NLGN), a non-profit making, independent think tank, says councils should lead approaches to reduce congestion and consider locality-based charging only if merited by local circumstances.
The report argues that a series of radical measures are required to stop congestion on Britain’s roads rising by a predicted 30% by 2025, including:
scrapping the current £380 million fuel subsidy the Government gives to bus operators, and instead allowing this same resource to be allocated by local authorities to incentivise improved local bus routing and timetabling;
removing the local transport regulatory powers from England’s six unelected and appointed-for-life Traffic Commissioners, instead devolving their powers to elected local council leaders;
making council leaders accountable to new passenger forums and allowing them scope to influence local employer behaviour, which could dramatically reduce peak time congestion; and
the sanctioning of locally-defined congestion charging or local road pricing schemes should rest with the elected local authority and tailored to local circumstances rather than see all traffic affected by a blanket national road pricing regime.
NLGN director, Chris Leslie, said: “It is nonsense in this day and age for unelected and barely visible Traffic Commissioners, who are currently appointed for life, to have powers to register and regulate local buses.
"Local communities across the country are crying out for better public transport, and these Traffic Commissioners cannot possibly have the local knowledge necessary to deliver the best results.