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MACGREGOR ANNOUNCES FUNDS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY TRANSPORT

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Thirteen local authorities are to receive funding under the new 'package approach' to local authority transport fun...
Thirteen local authorities are to receive funding under the new 'package approach' to local authority transport funding in urban areas. The allocations were announced by Transport Secretary, John MacGregor, today as part of the local authority transport capital settlement for 1994-95.

Other key features of the settlement, announced in reply to a Parliamentary Question from Bob Dunn MP (Dartford), are: a start for 31 major new local authority road schemes, at a cost of £47 million in 1994-95; the maintenance of this year's record level of funding (£50 million) for local road safety schemes; funding of over £20 million of bus priority measures; increased support for cycling and pedestrianisation measures through the allocations to package authorities.

Mr MacGregor announced that the Transport Supplementary Grant (TSG) for next year will be £329 million. Together with £565 million of borrowing approvals, this should enable the 108 English local highway authorities to spend some £894 million during 1994-95 on local roads and other transport infrastructure. In addition, up to £114 million will be made available in grants and borrowing approvals for public transport.

Under the package approach, local authorities have freedom to switch resources for minor transport works between roads and public transport investment, and the precise allocation between roads and public transport will depend on the priorities adopted by each individual authority.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr MacGregor said: 'This has been a tough public expenditure round, and transport has had to play its part in delivering the reductions in public expenditure which are essential if we are to ensure the future prosperity of this country.

'Against that background, I am pleased that we have been able to find the resources for a significant number of major new starts, for the launch of the first round of urban transport packages, and to maintain the provision for local safety schemes at this year's record level.

'I was particularly impressed by the progress made by the 8 local authorities in the West Midlands metropolitan area in putting together a joint package bid involving a jointly agreed set of priorities. We are funding in full the West Midlands authorities' second priority major scheme, the South Birmingham Improvements on A34/A435, (the first priority scheme, the Midland Metro scheme, is very expensive), and we are increasing by over 100%, compared with the current year, our allocation of resources to these authorities for minor works. This will enable a number of smaller road and public transport schemes to get under way in pursuit of the package objectives.'

The 31 new major road schemes include a number targeted at areas in need of economic regeneration. Examples include coalfield schemes - the Hemsworth Bypass (£9.1 million) and the Wheatley Hall Road Improvement, Doncaster (£7.4 million), both in South Yorkshire, and the Mansfield Eastern Outer Relief Road (£3 million) in Nottinghamshire; a £19.5 million scheme in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester, and the A206 Woolwich Road widening in London at a cost of £20 million.

The Department has accepted for TSG, at an eventual cost of about £95 million, the roads that will connect the new Medway Tunnel to the local network - Gillingham Northern Link and Wainscott Northern Bypass. A further £25 million is allocated to a new route for the A22 in Eastbourne. Funding is also being provided for the next stage, costing £7.3 million, of the Leeds City Centre Loop, which plays a key part in the strategy underlying the package bid for Leeds submitted jointly by Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority.

20 rural communities will benefit from new bypasses and other improvements. They are Hatherleigh (Devon), Davenham (Cheshire), Needingworth (Cambridgeshire), Arlesey and Stotfold (Bedfordshire), Witton Gilbert (Durham), Skelton and Brotton (Cleveland), Uttoxeter (Staffordshire), Wells (Somerset), Rickinghall and Botesdale (Suffolk), Brockdish and Needham (Norfolk), Probus (Cornwall), Kitty Brewster (Northumberland), Higham Ferrers (Northants), Awsworth and Cossall (Notts), East Knoyle (Wiltshire)

On the public transport side, £55 million is being made available for continuing work on the South Yorkshire Supertram, and £11.8 million for the Leeds/Bradford rail electrification scheme in West Yorkshire. New starts include the next phase of the Robin Hood Line in Nottinghamshire, and renewal of the electrical and traction equipment of the Blackpool tramway.

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