Three new sub-national transport bodies spanning nine counties are currently being discussed by councils across the country.
According to a report to be submitted to Gloucestershire CC’s cabinet on 6 June, the council would agree to sign a memorandum of understanding with the other councils included in the sub-national transport body’s borders, as well as the West of England CA.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement Gloucestershire CC would join Bristol City Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Wiltshire Council, Borough of Poole and Bournemouth BC.
The West of England sub-national transport body was earlier referenced in the West of England CA’s operating framework report, submitted to its joint committee on 18 April. The CA said in its annual business plan it would begin “sub national transport board work with partners in the south west to establish a sub national transport body/board in shadow form based around existing West of England governance.”
Lynden Stowe (Con), cabinet member for economy, skills and growth at Gloucestershire CC, said: “I’m confident that cabinet will see the benefits in creating a sub-national transport body. A strong united partnership across western England would influence government thinking and promote investment in transport schemes that will make a positive difference for Gloucestershire.”
According to the report submitted to cabinet, other councils in the western part of the south west region had not been included in the new public body due to the “differing dynamics of the local economies and travel to work patterns”.
Separate discussions are also underway on creating a sub-national transport body for the East of England covering Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex as well as another for the south west in Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset.
A formal proposal for a new sub-national transport body covering Cornwall Council, Devon CC, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council and Somerset CC, known as the South West Peninsula, is currently being formally prepared, according to a report submitted to committee at the Heart of the South West (HotSW) local enterprise partnership on 25 May.
According to the HotSW report, one likely name for the new West of England sub-national transport body is the ‘Western Gateway’, which will “inevitably” share “cross boundary interests” with the peninsula. It also suggests that Dorset may join the South West Peninsula body “after their reorganisation”. Parliament passed draft legislation establishing two unitary councils in Dorset on 23 May, although it is being challenged by Christchurch BC, which is due to be abolished along with Bournemouth BC and Borough of Poole to create a new council.
The HotSW report isolates key reasons for establishing two bodies in the south west region, before describing the need to “develop a shared narrative” on these reasons as part of separate formal proposals to the Department for Transport.
According to the report: “It became clear during the early discussions that it was not going to be appropriate to establish a single body covering the whole South West due to the size of the area and diversity of the economic challenges and infrastructure investment needs & solutions.”