SEWTA CITY REGION TRANSPORT PROPOSALS WIN SUPPORT
Regional transport consortium Sewta is being recommended to give a qualified welcome to the City Regions Task and Finish Group’s Final Report.
Sewta (the South East Wales Transport Alliance) which co-ordinates transport strategy, plans and programmes for the 10 local councils of South East Wales says that many of their suggestions made for a proposed City Region for South East Wales in the Final Report merit support.
The City Regions Task and Finish Group endorsed Sewta’s view that the City Region should match the boundaries of its 10 councils. It also accepted the need for the two suggested city regions, in South East Wales and around Swansea Bay, to establish collaborative arrangements. Sewta also pointed to the need for equal interface with Greater Bristol.
The City Regions Group also took the Sewta line on the need for a Metro system as a key theme for a South East Wales City Region. Sewta has adopted a “Sewta Metro Plus” proposition, which integrates the Metro idea into regional strategic transport planning. The City Regions Group also stresses the importance of enhancing strategic bus corridors, and of transport investment in the M4 corridor around Newport, all of which Sewta has been prominent in supporting.
The Final Report recommends the city regions take advantage of the next round of EU funding to ensure the strategic application of funds. Sewta already roots its planning for EU funding into its regional transport planning activities, and has focused on strategic packages of projects driven by the Regional Transport Plan.
But Sewta is taking a different view to the City Regions Task and Finish Group on the recommendation that a new Passenger Transport Authority or Executive should be set up similar to those in England.
Sewta points out that the English-style passenger authorities suggested in the Final Report are no longer a consistent model. Sewta says the original City Regions consultation paper did not specifically invite evidence on the case for or against establishing a Passenger Transport Authority. Accordingly, Sewta did not comment on this issue in their initial response, and there was little support for this proposition from other consultees.
As a result of the “City Deals” programme announced by the UK Government in July 2012, transport governance arrangements in England are no longer those of a standard model of Passenger Transport Authorities in each of the metropolitan areas. Each of the English metropolitan areas now has a unique set of arrangements.
In addition, says Sewta, the regional transport governance arrangements in England are underpinned by levels of funding which are unlikely to be achievable in Wales without a major re-prioritisation of resources.
Sewta says that while there is much good practice to be shared from England, models in Scotland and other places will also have valuable lessons to be learned. Given the unique governance arrangements now in place for central and local government in Wales, new regional governance arrangements in Wales will need to be tailored to be fit for purpose, and to reflect that uniqueness. What is really needed is a set of arrangements which are appropriate to Wales.
The Sewta Board, which meets at Ystrad Mynach on Friday September 28th 2012, will be asked to endorse this further response to the City Regions Task and Finish Group.
Councillor Phil White, the Vice-Chair of Sewta, and Cabinet Member – Communities with Bridgend County Borough Council, said:
“There is much that merits support in the City Regions Task Group report. Sewta looks forward to active involvement in progressing this broad agenda. However, it is clear that the evidence submitted does not provide a comprehensive case for an English-style passenger transport authority. In addition the proposal sits uncomfortably with another Task Group recommendation which says: “City regions in Wales should be free to explore best-fit governance arrangements ….”