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MPs BACK COUNCILS' CALL FOR TRANSPORT BILL

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A commons select committee has joined the Local Government Association in calling for new transport legislation. ...
A commons select committee has joined the Local Government Association in calling for new transport legislation.

The environment, transport and the regions select committee report on integrated transport says that plans for congestion charging and legally-binding agreements to ensure good quality bus services should become law as soon as possible.

This follows on from Monday's open letter to Tony Blair with the same message, which was sent by council leaders and transport lobby groups. Signatories to the LGA-led letter included the AA, the RAC and Transport 2000.

LGA environment board chair Derek Bateman said: 'This report strengthens the call for a proper transport Bill.

'Now MPs have joined a broad spectrum of opinion, including motoring groups and public transport lobbyists calling for a new Bill. It is up to ministers now to take up the baton.'

The select committee report also recognised that councils need more powers to deliver local solutions to local transport problems. In particular, the MPs called for a level playing field on road-user charging and car parking standards.

The committee said that congestion charging schemes had to apply to out-of-town retail and leisure developments as well as town centres - at present it is only planned in urban areas.

Mr Bateman added: 'The government's white paper last summer promised a new vision for integrated transport in this country, a vision that put councils at its heart.

'Local authorities are ready and willing - but we need the legal powers to make schemes like congestion charging work. If the government wants a transport system ready for the 21st century, there must be a new bill in the next Queen's Speech.'

Note

A copy of the open letter to Tony Blair is attached.

26 April 1999

Dear Prime Minister

Integrated transport: The case for legislation

We are writing to you today to stress the need for a Transport Bill in the next Queen's Speech. We believe that this is a vital opportunity for your government to ensure that the people of Britain get the new deal for transport that you promised them last summer.

We have all worked closely with the DETR on the consultation papers that have been issued over the last nine months and we are aware that much can be done, and is already being done, without primary legislation.

However, we strongly believe that legislation is needed now to bring in the Strategic Rail Authority and to tackle the most important challenges posed by traffic congestion, including the unacceptable costs which this imposes on businesses and the equally unacceptable damage to the nation's health.

Now is the time for you to carry forward radical proposals to enable the step change in investment that everyone knows is needed to rescue Britain's transport system and make it equal to the rest of Europe.

Local councils and the major transport bodies are all agreed that that you must act as soon as possible. Any further delay in the publication of a Bill will seriously hinder the progress of the government's integrated transport agenda.

We urge you, therefore, to include a comprehensive transport Bill, incorporating all the key white paper proposals, in the next Queen's Speech.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Beecham, chairman LGA,

Edmund King, executive director, RAC,

David C Green, director-general, Freight Transport Association,

John Dawson, public affairs director AA, Stephen Joseph, chairman Transport 2000

David Morphet, director-general The Railway Forum

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