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Future of transport funding still 'uncertain'

LOCAL AUTHORITY transport funding still faces 'real uncertainty' despite Government proposals to switch from a one-year spending round to a five-year one, Norfolk director of planning and transportation Martin Shaw warned this week.

Five-year Local Transport Plan spending programmes will replace the existing annual Transport Policies & Programme funding round. They have been hailed by ministers as a 'radical shift' in local authority funding because they create a more certain spending regime (NCE 19 November).

Speaking at NCE's PSfIT conference last week, Shaw claimed that LTPs looked 'rather like a continuation of the old TPP system'.

'The funding mechanisms proposed in the short term at least do not reflect a radical shift. Taking account of the significant underfunding in the past the proposed increases in capital are unlikely to allow the backlog of schemes to be reduced,' he said.

Shaw claimed that bids are still likely to be greater than the Government's settlement value, and that there is a danger of LTPs 'becoming out of date as soon as the allocation is announced'.

He added that revenue expenditure is not included in the plans, and that the Government's current provision following its Comprehensive Spending Review last year represents 'no real growth'.

'Given the increasingly unjustifiable emphasis on wringing the last ounce out of the existing transport network, local authority revenue expenditure will still have to fight its corner.'

A Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions spokesman said that LTPs were still 'at an early stage in the consultation process', and that local authority comments were being taken on board. Further government guidance is expected later in the year.

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