Responding to Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) consultation on its draft Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), Cllr Nicolas Heslop, Chair of South East Councils said:
“I am delighted to submit this response on behalf of South East Councils (SEC) – we have most of the local authorities in the South East region within our membership.
There is a commonly held perception of the South East as a region of rolling green pastures where investment and opportunities continually flow down from London into the surrounding home counties.
However, this simply does not reflect the reality on the ground. It misses the crucial fact that the region faces numerous challenges relating to decarbonisation and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The responses from SEC Member councils that make up this submission, clearly demonstrate a focus on meeting climate change commitments and net-zero targets. Central to that is the recognition that the South East requires a significantly improved transport system with a focus on stronger connectivity between places outside of London to lift barriers and obstacles to both economic growth and decarbonisation.
There are significant gaps in transport infrastructure and accessibility, pushing many rural residents to purchase road vehicles by default. A modal shift towards active travel would both reduce congestion, improve health, and cut emissions.
Enabling more efficient east-west journeys, swifter links to/from regional ports of entry, and more innovative use of freight could further tackle traffic congestion and create opportunities. The A27 is a prime example of the need for a more holistic and comprehensive approach to local packages of interventions to prevent bottlenecks to subregional economic growth. There are potential innovative solutions to addressing the A27’s impacts if the will exists within central government.
SEC welcomes and supports Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) mission.
Looking to the bigger picture as Prime Minister Liz Truss enters office, SEC remains of the view that to deliver most effectively for the people our councils represent, more powers and competencies should be transferred closer to the communities that local authorities serve.
As part of that view, ultimately SEC believes that TfSE should be designated as a statutory body with strategic responsibilities.”
Our full response to this inquiry can be accessed here.