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Call for transport funding overhaul

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A government-commissioned report has called for an overhaul of the way councils are funded to deal with the effects of extreme weather on transport networks.

The call comes in a review commissioned by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and carried out by former Eurostar chair Richard Brown, now a non-executive director at the Department for Transport.

The report, Review of transport resilience, said the Dft should set up a fund similar to the Bellwin scheme, which provides financial support to local authorities affected by exceptional events, such as flooding.

However, unlike the Bellwin scheme, which is run by the Department for Communities & Local Government and focuses on the initial recovery phase, Mr Brown’s proposed new fund would address the structural repairs to the transport network, which take longer to complete.

The report said the government should consult local highway authorities on a set of criteria to be applied consistently to emergency highway repair funding through the DfT.

LGC reported earlier this month that a flood funding gap was looming despite promises from prime minister David Cameron to cover the cost of last winter’s floods.

David Bishop, president of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport, said: “The harsh fact is that, unless more resources are made available, local authorities are going to have to make the difficult decision to stop maintaining some minor roads, making them less resilient to extreme weather. 

“We are really pleased that the government’s report recognises this and we hope something will be done to combat the shortfall in transport funding for regions outside London.

“Our regional transport network is already hard pressed. Long-term underfunding of local road maintenance has left a backlog of repairs which has been exacerbated over the last few years because of damage by bad weather. 

“More funding must be made available to the regions to help keep our local roads open and reduce the impact of extreme weather on our local economies.”

Mr McLoughlin said he would consider all of the recommendations in the review before publishing a response.

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