Praise, but no extra money for transport

STEVE DOWNES The amount of cash given to Norfolk for a host of smaller transport schemes has been cut by the government - despite a surprise £4m Christmas bonus coming as part of the package.

STEVE DOWNES

The amount of cash given to Norfolk for a host of smaller transport schemes has been cut by the government - despite a surprise £4m Christmas bonus coming as part of the package.

The Department for Transport announced it was giving the county almost £32.5m to improve local transport in 2007/8 - including the additional £4m for its performance.

But the sum is £3.4m less than the £35.9m received by Norfolk this year.

The overall amount will be used to help deliver the second local transport plan (LTP) - including new road safety measures, bus stop improvements, pedestrian crossings, better street lighting, road maintenance, park and ride facilities and cycle lanes.

The 12.5pc extra went to all local authorities whose efforts in delivering the 2001/2-2005/6 LTP and in drawing up the plan for 2006/7-2010/11 were graded “excellent”.

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Cambridgeshire, which will get a total of £20.3m from the DfT, also qualified for the bonus, which amounts to around £2.5m. Suffolk - which gets £21.75m - missed out on the additional money after its delivery was rated “satisfactory to good” and its new LTP “good”.

The cash is part of £159m given to counties in the East of England to help them deliver transport improvements.

As the cash was handed out, the DfT warmly praised Norfolk for its £10m Norwich public transport major scheme - which included the city's new bus station, and was a key part of the first LTP.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “It is very heartening to know that our local transport plan for Norfolk remains highly regarded by the government.

“It is unfortunate that this very high quality work in preparing the second LTP will not bring extra benefits to Norfolk people as the total amount of cash has fallen, with a big reduction in the maintenance for de-trunked roads such as the A10 and A140 Norwich to Scole road.

“You have to run to stand still.”

The cash is split between schemes to improve the integration of transport and general maintenance work. Norfolk gets £11.2m for transport integration and £21.3m - including £400,000 for former trunk roads that are now looked after by the county council.

Suffolk received £6.8m and £14.9m, and Cambridgeshire £8.56m and £11.75m.

In its letter informing Norfolk County Council of the £32.5m handout, the DfT said the first LTP had “resulted in a very positive impact both on local transport provision and on wider areas of policy”.

It added: “It is clear you worked hard on sustainability issues, shown by the reductions in carbon dioxide emissions that have been achieved.

“Your 2006 stretched target for school travel plan delivery has been exceeded. This has been supported by complimentary measures such as improving walking and cycling routes.

“Overall this delivery report shows that LTP1 has delivered a step change in travel choices especially in terms of reducing traffic in Norwich and improving public transport provision.”