Mission Impossible? The First Year of Local Transport Plans
HEADICAR P, Oxford Brookes University, UK
The preparation of Local Transport Plans (LTPs) by English local authorities was announced in the Labour Government's Transport White Paper of July 1998. They were heralded as 'a centrepiece' of the new government's proposals and 'the key' to delivering i
The preparation of Local Transport Plans (LTPs) by English local authorities was announced in the Labour Government's Transport White Paper of July 1998. They were heralded as 'a centrepiece' of the new government's proposals and 'the key' to delivering its aspirations for 'integrated transport' locally. The plans are not a statutory requirement, but because they are the mechanism through which authorities receive approval from Central Government for funding their transport capital expenditure their preparation is assured.
Representations to the Government about the difficulties faced by authorities in preparing the new plans led to the compromise of a phased introduction. 'Provisional' LTPs will have been submitted at the end of July 1999 containing bids for investment programmes beginning in the fmancial year 2000/01 (but with funding approval for the first year only). 'Full' LTPs are to follow a year later. Once the new arrangements are established it is intended that production of the plans and associated funding approval by Central Government will be undertaken at longer intervals of up to five years.
The difficulties faced in preparing the plans have three main sources. The first is the tightness of the timescale for completing the basic practical and administrative tasks involved in their production. For example the very extensive guidance prepared by the Government on the form and content of Provisional LTPs 1, including detailed criteria by which bids will be judged, was published less than four months before the plans themselves were due to be submitted. The second is the breadth of content envisaged for the plans, with the inclusion of many topics accorded little or no importance previously. For example, reports from local authorities required under the 1997 Road Traffic Reduction Act (passed at the end of the previous Conservative Government) are to be included within the new plans and represent a substantial innovation in themselves. The third source of difficulty is the process by which plan proposals are expected to be generated. This involves new requirements for public participation and for an explicit sequence of analytical elements - from the selection of objectives, through the identification of problems and opportunities to the development of a long-term strategy, a costed 5 year programme and a set of indicators by which the performance of the Plans can subsequently be tested.
Association for European Transport