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ROAD FEES TO FUND LOCAL TRANSPORT

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Local congestion charging moved a step closer this week as the government published the draft Local Transport Bill....
Local congestion charging moved a step closer this week as the government published the draft Local Transport Bill.

The bill also gives councils outside London a greater say in local bus services.

The Department for Trans-port confirmed the bill would allow councils to keep all revenues from road-pricing schemes. If it is approved by Parliament, councils will have to spend those revenues on improving local transport. Under existing legislation, they are free to use income as they wish after a scheme has been running for more than 10 years.

Councils will also gain the power to introduce 'quality contracts' with bus operators specifying networks, timetables and fares in their areas. Transport for London is the only body currently able to set such terms.

David Sparks (Con), chairman of the LGA's transport board, said the bill showed ministers had listened to councils' demands and offered 'a golden opportunity to tackle some long-standing problems and deliver better local transport'.

John Deegan, director of planning at Warwickshire CC and president of the County Surveyors Society, said road charging offered 'the chance to show some political bravery and take a lead on something the government is not willing to tackle'.

A report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research this week claimed the government must guarantee councils 30-50 years of income from road-user charging if the system is not to fail.

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