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ALL-PARTY COALITION PRESSES FOR CLARIFICATION OF LOCAL TRANSPORT DUTIES IN BILL

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Hansard 10 July: column 11-122 ...
Hansard 10 July: column 11-122

The government came under pressure to link local transport plans with the planning system and to spell out the need for councils to promote sustainable transport from both Labour and Conservative peers during continuing committee stage of the Transport Bill.

Former Labour transport minister Lord Berkeley intoduced an amendment which would place a duty on local authorities 'to promote sustainable transport, including especially all forms of public passenger transport, and the conveyance of freight by rail or water, and to identify and safeguard such land as may be required for the improvement of transport infrastructure, including interchanges between modes (of transport)'.

He said he was suprised the Bill contained no mention of freight, nor a duty for local plans to incorporate sustainable transport when one of the functions of the Strategic Rail Authority was to help achieve that.

It was important, said Lord Berkeley, for local authorities to have powers to earmark and protect land for transport - as the Greater London Assembly had been given to own and develop land for transport purposes.

Conservative local government spokesman Lord Dixon-Smith said the Bill gave the impression the government's only concern was for buses. He wanted to ensure legislation referred to other forms of transport, including cycling and walking, and the intermodal exchange between different modes of transport.

He also moved an amendemnt designed to involve the planning process to ensure consistency between local and district strategic transport plans.

Liberal Democrat Lord Bradshaw, who described himself as 'a veteran of structure planning in county councils', said: 'I can vouch for the fact that everybody is in favour of extending park-and-ride schemes, of getting more freight on to the railway and of extending station car parks. However, when you try to implement any of those policies, they are always fought tooth and nail at ground level.

'It is important that if we are to have a strategy for encouraging park-and-ride schemes, freight terminals and station car parks, they must find their way into the planning process at the earliest possible moment.'

DETR minister Lord Whitty said guidance to local authorities left a lot to the discretion of local authorities. The more detail on the face of the Bill, the less flexibility there was.

The amendments were withdrawn, but Lord Berkeley urged the minister to reconsider, and warned he might return to the issue on third reading.

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