A plan to create a sub-national transport body stretching across Berkshire, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex has taken a step closer to becoming a reality.
The first meeting of the shadow Transport for the South East body was held this week, at which East Sussex CC leader Keith Glazier (Con) was appointed chair. Reading BC’s deputy leader Tony Page (Lab) was appointed vice chair.
LGC reported in December last year how council officers had been holding discussions in relation to establishing a strategic transport body with a view to it gaining a similar status to Transport for the North and Midlands Connect – the only two sub-national transport bodies to be created so far under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016.
TfSE covers the area’s 16 transport authorities and five local enterprise partnerships. The Department for Transport, Highways England, Network Rail, transport operators, transport users and other key interest groups are also involved.
While the body is operating in shadow form, leaders hope it will become a statutory body within two years.
Cllr Glazier said the south-east contributes more than £200bn a year to the economy but added “its transport network is creaking” and in need of investment.
“This is why we have come together to highlight the transport priorities for our residents and businesses and find innovative ways of building a truly resilient and modern transport system that will enhance the south-east’s success,” he said. ‘Our transport network is nationally and internationally significant: it takes in two of the country’s biggest airports, many of its busiest motorways, a string of major ports and crucial railway links to London, the rest of Britain and to mainland Europe. But there’s no one body which directs this area network, and that’s the vitally important job that Transport for the South East can fulfil.”
At Monday’s meeting partners discussed ambitions to deliver smoother, congestion-free journeys and make the best use of digital and emerging technology in transport, as well as enhancing the south-east’s role in growing the national economy.
LGC reported in November how a separate partnership stretching from Oxfordshire to Cambridgeshire is also hoping the government will agree to its bid to become a sub-national transport body. This includes Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, and Oxfordshire CCs, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils, Bedford and Luton BCs, and the four local enterprise partnerships covering the region
Transport for the South East: The full list of partners involved
- Berkshire Local Transport Body (encompassing the six Berkshire unitary authorities: Braknell Forest BC, Reading BC, Slough BC, West Berkshire Council, Windsor & Maidenhead RBC, Wokingham BC)
- Brighton & Hove City Council
- East Sussex CC
- Hampshire CC
- Isle of Wight Council
- Kent CC
- Medway Council
- Portsmouth City Council
- Southampton City Council
- Surrey CC
- West Sussex CC
Borough and district councils in each of the two-tier areas will also be represented, along with the south-east’s five local enterprise partnerships:
- Coast to Capital LEP
- Enterprise M3 LEP
- South East LEP
- Solent LEP
- Thames Valley Berkshire LEP
Representatives from the Department for Transport, Highways England, Network Rail, ports, airports, transport operators, protected environments and transport user groups are also involved.