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Engineer slams government's 'awed' local transport funding

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GOVERNMENT FUNDING for local transport capital projects is unsuited to local needs, a local authority engineer has warned.

Essex County Council service director for highways and transportation Tony Ciaburro slammed the government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) as being too 'prescriptive', lacking in innovation and encouraging local authorities to focus too heavily on road charging schemes.

'I don't think there's anything innovative about TIF. There is a huge disconnection between the management of TIF and the local communities we work in and serve, ' Ciaburro told a recent conference in London.

He said the focus on road charging was too narrow and that demand management needed a wider approach.

Ciaburro said many local authority engineers shared his view but were afraid to speak out for fear of losing out on future funding. This will rise to £290M for 2008/09 and increase to £2.55bn by 2014/2015.

But Steer Davies Gleave associate Chris Ferrary warned that local authorities had to focus on TIF because there would be no other government funding for local transport projects.

'TIF is the way forward because that's where the money is, ' he said.

The Department for Transport launched TIF in 2004, asking for a 'package of measures' that could include junction improvements, improved bus priority, and schemes that reduce congestion and that enable more effective use of transport corridors and systems.

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