Hampshire County Council

Winchester Movement and Access Plan
Joint Members' Panel

6 November 2003

Review of Transport Strategy Areas and Transportation Strategy Panels

Report of the Director of Environment

Item 7

Contact: David McKibbin, ext 5301 email: david.mckibbin@hants.gov.uk

The issues within this report are for consultation only as they have not been discussed formally within the County Council. The issues are scheduled for formal discussions during late October and November 2003 and the views put forward by Members of the Transportation Panels will inform this process.

1. Summary

1.1 Area Transport Strategies are the basis for delivering the integrated transport element of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) in Hampshire. A series of established Area Transportation Strategy Panels determine priorities and programmes for each strategy area.

1.2 There are, however, current issues that affect the efficient delivery of transport policies and strategies which, together with several relevant external factors, make it timely to review the current arrangements.

1.3 Comments are sought on the issues outlined in this report, which will guide the consultation with the district councils at the next round of Panel meetings in autumn and at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authority meeting on 26 September 2003, with an anticipated start date for the new arrangements in January 2004.

2. Background

2.1 Area Transport Strategies have been the basis of transport planning in Hampshire since the mid-1990s. The ten areas, shown on Plan A attached to this report, were formed as urban and rural transport packages at a time when Government funding for integrated transport was largely focused on such package areas. Each of the strategy areas is administered by a Panel of District and County Council Members, which considers the strategy area objectives and proposed programmes which are then put forward to the Executive Member for Environment for decision. The Panels meet twice a year in the spring and autumn.

2.2 Some of the strategy areas are based on journey-to-work areas while others are based on the former highways maintenance island agencies. Some relate to district council boundaries and area strategies which pre-date local government reorganisation. They originally included the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.

2.3 The LTP regime has developed and, in addition to meeting financial spend targets, demands for monitoring progress in meeting all strategy area targets have placed a considerable burden on the Authority.

2.4 The early Area Transportation Strategy Panels considered area strategies and priorities as well as discussing specific schemes. The latter level of detail is now dealt with at Highway Advisory Panel level, for schemes which have passed Project Appraisal stage, as noted below.

3. Discussion

3.1 To determine the best way forward for implementing transport policy for Hampshire, it is sensible to look at how this may best work alongside other activities in the future.

3.2 Community Strategies are emerging through Local Strategic Partnerships based on district council areas. Both the district and the county community strategies are still developing but will play an important role in County Council service delivery planning. The district strategies cannot deal with strategic matters but should be guided by broader considerations and should inform programmes and priorities.

3.3 Highway Management Advisory Panels, which are based on district council areas meet on a six-monthly basis and look at present year's capital programme delivery as well local maintenance and traffic management matters. These Panels advise the Executive Member and provide an opportunity for more district council Members to have direct contact with County Council staff and Members.

3.4 Delivery of the current LTP is well underway and the early consultation process for the next LTP, a five-year plan for integrated transport for Hampshire, will start during 2004. Officer meetings with the District Councils have discussed the process for producing that plan. The strategy panel's input will be fundamental to producing the plan, helping to formulate area transport strategies and contributing to prioritising the overall programme. When the final LTP is agreed, the panels will consider annual programmes and priorities, monitoring progress and which is formalised in Annual Progress Reports.

3.5 The draft Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) has now been through the Examination in Public process and the final document publication is expected before the end of the year. The RTS identifies particular areas of the county for special consideration.

3.6 The Blackwater Valley (including parts of Surrey and Berkshire) is identified in the draft RTS as a special area and is being examined as such. A precise boundary has not been determined, as any one boundary would not deal adequately with all of the specific transport issues under consideration for that sub-region.

3.7 South Hampshire (including Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight) is another such area in the draft RTS. The Hampshire element is essentially an amalgamation of the existing South West and South East strategy areas. The County Council has, in recent years, made good progress in bringing together all the interested transport stakeholders in the South Hampshire sub-region under the Solent Transport Partnership. Signatories include the Unitary Authorities, Government and regional agencies, private operators and, largely through the Hampshire Economic Partnership, the business community, and the partnership is also working to integrate land use strategies alongside those for transport. The importance of South Hampshire as an entity in transport, planning and economic terms is growing. Government is particularly interested in the Solent Transport initiative and is looking to the Partnership to help it shape future national guidance for LTPs.

3.8 Work is proceeding on developing a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which will complement the RTS. The sub-regional areas under consideration align well with the sub-regions for the RTS and the Thames Valley is given particular consideration. This geographic coincidence aids the opportunity for any new transport arrangements to also consider Spatial Strategy matters, as discussed below.

3.9 Integrating spatial strategy with transport strategy has long been recognised by successive Governments and by the County Council as important to maximise the effectiveness of policies and the delivery of programmes. Having spatial strategy and transport strategy considered by the same County/District Council Panels would fit well with integration of these disciplines and also for integration arrangements between County and District Council government.

3.10 National Park designation will probably be introduced for the New Forest and possibly for the South Downs. The New Forest can and is recognised as requiring different treatment from the rest of rural Hampshire in transport and spatial strategy terms; the differentiation for the South Downs is less obvious, but is still helpful in area strategy terms.

4. Administrative Arrangements for Joint Panels

4.1 Any new arrangements will need to recognise the Executive Member arrangements now in place and must be efficient, to make best use of both County and District Council staff resources.

4.2 Existing bi-annual Area Transportation Strategy Panels are led by the Executive Member for Environment and include representation by District Council and County Council Members. The existing arrangements have the advantage of dealing with all debate at one level of meetings. They are an established mechanism that involves joint working but one that requires considerable officer and Member resource to work well. They are also relatively infrequent.

4.3 Informal discussions with District Council representatives indicate that some districts may prefer to have regular joint meetings between respective Executive Members. This would leave each Authority with the responsibility to obtain views and disseminate information within its own organisation.

4.4 Whereas it is important to develop strategies for each area or sub-region, with all of the relevant District Council partners fully engaged in that process, it is not strictly necessary to use the same mechanism to deal with administrative arrangements. Those arrangements could be dealt with separately for specific issues and details within each District, possibly alongside other similar processes.

4.5 The role of Area Transportation Strategy Panels and any subsequent arrangements should be to set medium-term strategies and share views on priorities within such strategies. This would influence the capital programme and the Panels should then monitor progress of delivery, reviewing priorities and achievements against a range of targets such as LTP, Comprehensive Performance Assessment and other performance indicators.

4.6 The Panels are a fundamental part in the process of delivering the LTP and Hampshire's strategy approach has been recognised nationally. This has undoubtedly contributed to relatively high levels of funding allocation. Any new Panel arrangements will, nevertheless, need to be developed in the contexts of:

4.7 Consideration of any proposals for future working of any new arrangements following consultation would, therefore, need to be the subject of Cabinet consideration in the light of corporate issues mentioned above.

5. Options for Strategy Areas

5.1 The existing strategy area boundaries are shown on the attached plan and, for the reasons set out earlier, there are pressures to rationalise the large number of areas. Existing Panels are well established and, although they are an effective mechanism for joint working, that effectiveness is not dependent on existing area boundaries. When the Panels were first established they considered specific project issues but that level of detail is now dealt with by the District Highway Management Advisory Panels.

5.2 This paper does not propose specific new boundaries but seeks general views on how the process may more effectively be taken forward in the light of the issues discussed in this report, including the particular relevance of these issues to the corporate agenda for community engagement being developed by the Cabinet.

6. Conclusions

6.1 Existing Transport Strategy Areas should be rationalised to fewer areas, and better aligned with the range of sub-regional and other corporate policy developments.

6.2 New Area Strategy Panels should consider a wider agenda to better integrate transport and spatial planning matters, and the administration of the Panels should be efficient and consider the new executive arrangements that have been introduced since Panels were first established.

Recommendation

That this Panel offers comments on:

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and have been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

1.

Published works.

2.

Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

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None.

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