By JOSEPH WATTS, political editor
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Council and business leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk will be given control of a £39m transport cash-pot over three years.
In 2012 the government set up local transport bodies (LTBs) to take charge of transport infrastructure in the English regions.
Yesterday ministers confirmed LTBs would be given control of money between 2015 and 2018 that previously would have been spent from Whitehall.
Officials at the Department for Transport said initial calculations indicated that money allocated for Norfolk and Suffolk would amount to £39m over the three-year period.
Minister Norman Baker said: “The devolution of [money for] major transport schemes will give real power to communities to make locally-accountable decisions about what will work best for them.
“The figures we have published today provide the clarity local areas need to plan for the future and, armed with these figures, local decision makers can start looking at the kinds of infrastructure projects that will deliver the greatest benefits for local people.
“Many transport schemes deliver benefits far beyond their immediate surrounds and I would encourage local authorities to talk to their neighbours where joint schemes might be appropriate.”
However, the actual allocations for each area will not be determined until future spending plans are set in stone by the government.
The Norfolk and Suffolk LTB will be made up of Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a grouping of council and business chiefs designed to promote economic growth in the East.
Mr Baker also said that New Anglia would get a share of £5m this year to help it execute its role in administering the new budget.
The LTB will now start making contingency plans on how to spend the indicative amount of money, though it has been told to allow for the actual amount to be up to one third higher or lower than the indicative figure.
Graham Plant, Norfolk’s cabinet member for transport and planning, said the LTB had schemes “on the table” and waiting for money, but could not give any the go-ahead until the actual amount was confirmed.
He said: “It’s the start of something, but not the be-all and end-all.
“I’m hopeful that when the government are confident the LTB can spend the money wisely, more will be forthcoming down the line.”
Mark Pendlington, New Anglia’s LTB representative said: “Working with our local authority colleagues we are making good progress establishing the New Anglia Local Transport Board.
“We are pleased that the government has confirmed indicative funding of £39m, which we are determined to invest in projects which will maximise the economic potential of our area.”