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CITIES NEED GREATER FINANCIAL FREEDOM TO IMPROVE TRANSPORT

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The government must guarantee councils up to 50 years' worth of income from road user charging or the system will f...
The government must guarantee councils up to 50 years' worth of income from road user charging or the system will fail, a think tank has warned.

Panels drawn from five major cities told the Institute for Public Policy Research that they needed this long-term certainty to finance transport infrastructure.

Its Connecting cities report said councils could not borrow on the money markets against charge revenues unless the government guaranteed this income for between 30 and 50 years.

One of the main arguments put to the public in support of charging is that money raised would pay for transport improvements.

The charge would struggle to gain acceptance if the government made this impossible.

'Cities must be able to use the revenues generated as an additional tool to finance long-term infrastructure investment,' the report said.

The government has refused a long-term guarantee, arguing that it would hamper any future national charging scheme.

Connecting cities also urged the government to adopt the supplementary business rate proposed by Sir Michael Lyons, which would allow councils to raise money for economic development (LGC, 10 May).

The draft local transport bill, to be published tomorrow, will set out reforms on road user charging, councils' powers over buses and the future of metropolitan area passenger transport authorities.

Centre for Cities director Dermot Finch said:

'England's cities need more financial freedom to deliver local transport improvements. Their future economic growth depends on it.'

Regeneration & transport

Finance & corporate services

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