We need both devolution and public debate, transport groups demand ahead of local authority meeting

On Friday 4 March The West of England Partnership (WEP) – made up of the four councils that govern the Greater Bristol area – will meet and greater devolution to the area.

Martin Garrett, chair of Transport for Greater Bristol (TfGB), said: “The creation of a combined or integrated transport authority and the devolution of greater power to local decision makers from Westminster and Whitehall are the two great priorities in Bristol.

“Nevertheless, it’s vital that local people are involved in decision making, including over devolution itself, and we urge both local authorities and central government to conduct discussions in a transparent and accountable manner.

“Bristol’s decrepit transport system is a powerful demonstration of the fractious, secretive and ineffective nature of local decision making on transport and planning, and we should now embrace a chance for a full, open and ambitious discussion on how we can get Bristol moving again.”

The Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways – a supporter organisation of TfGB – have submitted eight questions to the WEP’s meeting:

  1. Please print in the Joint Scrutiny meeting papers the latest draft of the devolution deal document as proposed verbally by BCC officer Patricia Greer at the last Scrutiny meeting on Monday 18 January 2016 and announced verbally by the Strategic Leaders’ Board on Friday 22 January to have been agreed as a starting point for negotiations with the government.
  2. Is the proposed submission date still envisaged to be before the March 2016 budget?
  3. Is the overall budget still £1 billion to be divided among the current WEP brief of transport, planning, skills and infrastructure? Has a subdivision of this budget into the specific themes been agreed?
  4. What is the proposed role, remit and job title of the Metro Mayor?
  5. What rail, bus and planning powers are envisaged?
  6. What level of detail of specific schemes and what delivery deadlines for these needs to be supplied for the devolution funding to be released?
  7. What fundraising powers will be granted for the repayment of the £1 billion loan and what is the timescale envisaged for repayment?
  8. When will consultation with stakeholders take place and which stakeholders have been involved so far in the negotiation process?