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Public mixed on devolved local infrastructure

Infrastructure

Public response to local infrastructure decisions is positive but there are mixed views on which decisions should be devolved, according to a new survey.

The survey, carried out by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), shows the majority of people in England think devolution measures such as a new fund to support skills growth, more local control of flood management and the introduction of integrated ticketing systems would have a positive impact on their local area.

The ComRes survey of over 1,700 English adults – which marks the start of ICE’s State of the Nation: Devolution campaign that will investigate how UK infrastructure can get the most out of devolution – showed public attitudes to local decision making on infrastructure are largely positive. Only 26% think devolution will make local services less efficient and only 33% want it to slow down across England.

When asked how devolution measures would impact on their local area, 64% felt a new fund to boost skills growth would be positive. In addition, 61% said greater local control of flood management would have a positive impact.

Fifty two percent said devolution could help to boost local economies and 63% believe devolution plans resulting in a single travel ticket to be used on all transport would have a positive effect on their local area.

The survey results did, however, suggest the public were less positive about devolution plans being implemented without their views being sought, with 78% saying local people should vote to decide whether powers are devolved to their area.

When asked which infrastructure decisions should be controlled locally, bus franchising came out top with 76% wanting local control, compared to 14% who think central government should decide.

ICE member of the State of the Nation: Devolution steering group Jonathan Spruce said: “The Government’s ‘devolution revolution’ is speeding up and the commitment is positive – locating powers closer to those it affects carries the potential for greater focus, investment and better decision making.”

“However, to get the most out of devolution, we need a better understanding on how and where it can work most effectively. We also need a better feel of the needs, ambition and capacity of each area to establish frameworks and assume the greater responsibility.”

 Further findings from the survey

  • 46% said decisions on new renewable energy facilities should be made locally, with 42% wanting central control
  • 41% said local government should make decisions on fracking, with the same proportion (41%) believing these decisions sit with central government
  • 35% want local control over new train lines or stations, with 55% wanting decisions to be made centrally
  • 23% said local government should decide on new power stations, with 66% wanting central control
  • Only 19% of the public think decisions on new motorways should be made locally, with 71% saying central government should take the reins
  • Only 26% think devolution will make local services less efficient
  • 78% say local people should vote to decide whether powers are devolved to their area
  • Bus franchising is at the top of the public wish list for local control
  • 71% think decisions on new motorways should be made by central government.

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