New road schemes still dominate spending plans from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for the coming year, campaigners have said.
The Campaign for Better Transport’s (CBT) LEP Watch project has analysed LEPs’ proposed spending on new transport projects in England and has claimed that they continue 'to prioritise roads at the expense of sustainable transport’.
It said over 50% of proposed spend on transport projects has been allocated for new road capacity and two thirds of all bids on road-based schemes, with only 3% specifically on walking and cycling.
Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at CBT, said: ‘Our research clearly shows that the balance of proposed LEP funding is still far too heavily weighted to new roads. What we need to see is a much more joined-up approach to transport planning, with a modern public transport system connecting people’s homes with their place of work.
‘It is also vital that LEPs are more transparent and accountable in how they spend our money: we want to see more local people involved in deciding how projects and priorities are selected.'
She added: ‘Many new road schemes are at best unnecessary and at worst are damaging in environmental and social terms: LEPs would serve the local economy better with more investment in alternative sustainable transport options.’
CBT’s findings are based responses to freedom of information requests last year from 36 LEPs, regarding
In total, these LEPs are seeking to spend £3.4bn of funding on 444 schemes, which CBT analysed by mode.
It said just over 50% of projects and project spend is allocated for new road capacity, a figure that rises to 67% when mixed schemes with some new roads are included.
All sustainable modes (public transport and active travel) add up to around 30% of schemes and 33% of spend but cycling gets the smallest slice of spend, attracting just 1% of the allocated fund.
CBT pointed out that the Government is inviting LEPs to bid for a share of a further £1.8bn Local Growth funding, with no specific allocation within this for transport.
It said that with the advent of devolution deals, including some transport powers, it remains to be seen how much of a role LEPs will play in future years.