Headlines: November 8th, 2006



Nine English areas are to share seven-and-a-half million pounds to help develop innovative ways to tackle local traffic congestion and to play a part in informing the debate on a national road pricing scheme. The money is from the second round of an 18 million pound fund, set up in July last year for pump-priming in advance of the Transport Innovation.

The TIF money can be used to improve public transport, offering alternatives to car use and to give more choice for the travelling public. Six authorities who received first round funding are to benefit again. They are the West Midlands conurbation, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, Durham County Council, which is using the money for improvements in Durham City, and Shropshire County Council for its plans to ease congestion in Shrewsbury. The three other areas getting funding are Nottingham, Derby and Leicester and their surrounding counties, Reading and Norfolk County Council for work in Norwich.

The new funding is intended to support local authorities who are developing proposals for local road pricing pilot projects, which will help inform the discussions on a national scheme and which will provide experience on the ground and ideas about how road pricing technology works. The Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander, said, “Congestion has significant costs to the economy and environment, causes delay and frustration for motorists and it is forecast to get steadily worse over the next ten years. We must act now.”

He added that road pricing had the potential to cut congestion by nearly half and the Government needed to explore how well-designed schemes could help. The first step on this path, he said, was helping local authorities to establish local pilots.

The Government plans to work closely with all the local authorities involved in the developmental work. The three new areas would be invited to join the Road Pricing Local Liaison Group, which is responsible for developing a consistent approach to pricing, looking at technical standards, design and the appraisal of schemes.