Headlines: February 28th, 2005

Seventeen authorities have been named as centres of excellence in an initiative that recognises local transport plan areas that have a proven track record in delivering transport improvements on the ground and meeting local targets and the objectives they set for themselves during the first round of Local Transport Plans.The Department for Transport will provide 100,000 pounds a year to the Transport Authorities that have become centres of excellence to support them in providing peer-led activities for transport planning and delivery for local authorities.

The new status goes to the 17 centres under four categories acknowledging their particular areas of expertise. In the first category, Improved Transport Choices in Towns and Cities status goes to Cambridgeshire, Reading, York and Greater Nottingham local authorities. Efficient Programme Delivery has been recognised in Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Durham, East Riding, South Gloucestershire and Stockton-on-Tees. Two areas – Halton in Merseyside and Telford and Wrekin in Shropshire are rewarded under the Better Urban Public Transport and Accessibility heading. The centres for Road Safety and Public Transport in Rural and Urban Areas are Devon, Herefordshire, Norfolk and West Sussex.

Transport minister Charlotte Atkins said the centres of excellence illustrated the successes that local authorities had achieved as a result of the partnership that developed through the Local Transport Plan system. She hoped they would now be seen as examples by other local councils around the country.

The 17 new centres of excellence follow those authorities that were granted similar status in 2001 for Integrated Transport Planning for the duration of the first LTP period.