From July 19 to September 8, 2017, England’s Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance engaged with prospective partners and stakeholders on its proposal to establish a Sub-national Transport Body for the Heartland area. Feedback from the engagement is now being analysed as the Heartland considers its next steps.
The principle of a single overarching forum for strategic transport issues across the Heartland area was endorsed by the National Infrastructure Commission in its Interim Report published in November 2016. The recently published Transport Investment Strategy published by the Department for Transport further emphasises the importance of Sub-national Transport Bodies in providing local partners with the opportunity to shape future strategic investment priorities.
Sub-national Transport Bodies are part of the government’s drive to support delivery of economic growth across the country. They can be given legal powers and duties to advise transport ministers on investment priorities and strategic transport schemes to boost growth. Statutory status also enables them to plan for the long term.
There is no fixed template as to what form a Sub-national Transport Body has to take. It is for the local transport authorities putting the proposal forward to determine, and provide the case as to why their proposition is the most appropriate.
There are therefore a number of options that need to be carefully considered.
These include the scope of the transport body, for example whether or not it has an advisory or statutory role. There are also governance arrangements to consider, alongside its geographical focus, membership and funding.