Decision-making in English Local Transport Planning

Decision-making in English Local Transport Planning


D Palmer, Steer Davies Gleave, UK



This paper reports on a project undertaken by Steer Davies Gleave for the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). The project was undertaken in association with INLOGOV (the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham) and Mr Tim Pharoah (an independent land-use planner associated with Llewellyn-Davies). The study was conducted between 2001-03.

Three objectives were set for the study:
*To gain a structured understanding of the local transport decision-making behaviour and practice in the context of the new local government constitutions being introduced in England;
*To assess how best DfT/ODPM guidance and advice could contribute to local authority decision-making on transport; and to provide the DfT/ODPM with advice on the principles which should inform its guidance and advice with a case study of how such principles would apply to a specific example of current guidance or advice.

The main components of the methodology were:
*A review of theories of decision-making in local government and the identification of one theory (the ?Vigilant? model) to use as the basis for the subsequent phases of the study, notably the case studies;
*Surveys of local authorities to investigate their decision-making processes and of stakeholders to ascertain their involvement;
*An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the current practice of decision-making in local authorities through ten in-depth case studies together with an evaluation of current practice against the ?Vigilant? decision-making model;
*A review of existing transport guidance provision by the UK central government and an assessment of the potential role of guidance in improving decision-making; and
*The identification of the main principles for government guidance in the future.

A particular focus will be the development of Local Transport Plans (LTPs) and their related Annual Progress Reports (APRs). These are statutory documents that must be prepared by every local transport authority in England, but not in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Such regional differences will be described and discussed in the presentation.

As part of the study, approaching 100 in-depth interviews were held with elected members, council officials (in both transport and land-use planning), local and national stakeholders. Due to the ?patchwork? nature of local government in England with a variety of different types of authorities each with different powers, evidence was gathered from ten case studies:
*Three Passenger Transport Authorities/ Passenger Transport Executives in the main metropolitan areas with their constituent Metropolitan District Councils; *Three County Councils with their constituent District Councils;
*Three Unitary Authorities; and
*One miscellaneous authority with joint city/council decision-making arrangements.

ETC Presentation
This presentation will begin by describing the differing responsibilities of local government in England and compare this with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will then describe the recent changes in local government including the creation of cabinet-style administrations with portfolio holders who are responsible for transport policies. A review of different types of decision-making theories will be presented and discussed. The extent to which English local authorities are following logical or systematic approaches to transport planning will be reported. The paper will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of current practice of decision-making in local authorities, based on the ?Vigilant? model and its ten procedural criteria, which will be explained. The impacts of changes, both exogenous and endogenous, upon local transport planning will be explored. The presentation will cover how the new local government constitutions have influenced decision-making and the preparation of LTPs. In particular the paper will help to draw out lessons to which local authorities, both in England and elsewhere, will need to respond.

The presentation will not comment in detail on government guidance but nevertheless will identify the challenges that face both central government and local authorities as they strive to improve decision-making in local transport planning. This will be particularly important in view of the next round of LTPs that are due to be submitted in 2005 for the five-year period 2006/07-2011/12.


Association for European Transport