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Transport to lose out in funding overhaul

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TRANSPORT COULD be a big loser under a major change in local government funding, a top civil servant warned last week.

Local Area Agreements (LAAs), under which councils and public organisations including health authorities, the police and regeneration bodies, agree funding priorities for a local area, will be rolled out across the UK by mid- 2008.

All funding bids for government cash will have to reflect priorities set out in the LAA.

Department for Transport divisional manager for regional and local transport strategy Charlotte Dixon said that transport-related targets were in danger of being excluded by the LAAs.

She told NCE's Local Transport Plan conference last week that municipal engineers must do more to convince council executives that transport-related targets must be included in LAAs.

'Local authorities are still negotiating what's in and what's out but my concern is that transport hasn't featured very much in them.' The LAAs will comprise 35 targets aimed at creating a sustainable community that will need to be agreed by councils and other bodies by June next year.

Councils choose their 35 funding priorities from a list of 200 provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government but health and policing are said to be dominant in some of the emerging LAAs.

'We need to spread the understanding that transport is critical in terms of delivering all the other services, ' added Dixon.

'There is a job to be done here by the DfT and by local authority officers to ensure that it is well understood.'

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