Local authorities have welcomed chancellor Rishi Sunak’s transport spending boost announced in the Spending Review last week. However, there was some initial confusion over how much of the £7bn Sunak said would be allocated to urban transport across England was actually new money. The DfT later confirmed that of this amount £1.5bn is new funding. Some £4.2bn for cities was first announced in 2019, while the bus grants will be coming from the 3bn National Bus Strategy announced in March.
Greater Manchester will receive just over £1bn for Metrolink trams, bus corridors and the Bee Network active travel project.
West Midlands will get around £1bn for metro stations and bus rapid transit schemes, with West Yorkshire (£830m), South Yorkshire (£570m), Tees Valley (£310m), the West of England (£540m) and Liverpool City Region (£710m) the other beneficiaries.
However, the North East Combined Authority (NECA) missed out on transport funding as it is the only English region without an elected mayor. DfT’s spokesperson told LTT: “The last Spending Review and Budget noted that these settlements are subject to appropriate governance being in place. A mayor with transport powers that is in control of a mayoral combined authority would be an appropriate governance structure to receive this funding, and Government welcomes future devolution proposals from the North East.”
Alongside the local transport spending pledges, the announcement for the Road Investment Strategy 2 money was revised down from the £27.4bn announced last year to £24bn. The DfT said this was due to delays to the major schemes at Stonehenge and the Lower Thames Crossing. “The A303 at Stonehenge has not been cancelled,” DfT’s spokesperson said. “The secretary of state will now redetermine the application, and as a live planning case, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
“The Government is still spending £27bn on major roads schemes, just over a slightly longer period as a result of delays to some major schemes, including Stonehenge.”
In July campaigners won a High Court case to prevent the £1.7bn scheme that includes a tunnel near Stonehenge.
There were expectations that the chancellor would raise the prospect of new forms of road charging but this was not mentioned, and Fuel Duty was frozen for the twelfth year.