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Engineers call for devolution of transport spending

motorwaynotorway at night

The government should hand Transport for the North a budget to spend on infrastructure, engineers have urged.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) told the National Infrastructure Commission that devolution of spending power was critical to creation of the Northern Powerhouse.

The Commission last year opened a consultation on connecting Northern cities, which closed on Friday.

In its response, the ICE said the Transport for the North (TfN) – made up of transport and combined authorities – should be given its own resources.

“Strategic transport investment is generally allocated on a scheme-by-scheme basis, and is subject to scheme development, appraisal by Department for Transport officials, and political decision-making,” said the ICE in its response.

“By 2025 a significant proportion of transport capital spending should be devolved to TfN, which would then be able to undertake its own appraisal and decision-making processes and develop its own high-level output specification.

“This would also provide TfN with the opportunity to leverage its capital budget to gain further investment and utilise mechanisms such as tax increment finance schemes.”

ICE’s Northern Powerhouse Panel - led by KPMG head of infrastructure Richard Threlfall - told the Commission that the North would struggle to compete internationally as a single economic zone without faster, more frequent transport services between and within cities, along with better connections to outer city areas where universities, science parks and manufacturing bases were often located.

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