To receive a presentation from National Highways/DfT and to consider TfN’s draft response.
Lead: Director Rail and Road/National Highways
7.1 Members received the report from the Head of Major Roads who outlined the key points within the report. Members also received a presentation from Mr James Henry (DfT) and Mr Adam Simmons (National Highways).
7.2 The meeting became quorate at 11.20.
7.3 The Chair asked whether it is still a requirement of the Department for all new schemes to be make provision for the needs of cyclists.
7.4 Cllr Hughes welcomed the commitment of National Highways to work with partners to ensure integration of the Strategic Road Strategy with local major road strategies.
7.5 Members raised a number of issues relating to roads in their constituent areas.
7.6 Mayor Coppard raised concerns about the deferral of A1 upgrade being moved from RIS 3 to RIS 4 as well as concerns around the resilience of TransPennine routes, some of which (Snake Pass) are the responsibility of Local Transport Authorities, but which serve strategic purposes.
7.7 Mayor Burnham expressed concern that projects are being delayed and moved into later RIS periods. He was particularly concerned that the work on the M60 junctions 8-18 Manchester North-West Quadrant study, which he described as the road equivalent of Castlefield Corridor, is being delayed until the 2030s. He commented that the delay on this work will have a big impact on the rest of the North.
7.8 Ms. Helen Simpson raised the issue of the A64 and echoed Mayor Burnham’s concerns about the impact on businesses and communities of delaying schemes, as well as the adverse impact arising from the over use of competitive funding.
7.9 Cllr Mundry expressed concerns about the rising costs of schemes and how this impacts on the North, noting that the North always seems to be at the back of the queue for everything, including rail, resulting in more traffic on the roads.
7.10 Mr. Rawstron supported a focus on smaller road schemes noting that they can have a disproportionality significant beneficial impact at a local level, specifically the economic impact.
He also made a strong case for rural areas and how roads are so important to their residents, due to the lack of other alternatives. He asked that these are not downgraded at the expense of other priorities.
7.11 Cllr Rollo supported the need for a stronger emphasis on rural areas. She requested a more explicit response to the consultation was required with a focus on the need to improve journey times and the reliability of the network.
7.12 Mr. Kennan emphasised that it is Transport for the North and not Transport in the North. He explained that there are key roads that we have no control over and highlighted the fact that Sheffield to Manchester are the worst connected city pair in Europe. He suggested that these roads should get greater attention from a Transport for the Northpoint of view.
7.13 The Head of Major Roads addressed a number of comments and stated that as reported to Board in March, priorities amongst Strategic Road Network schemes have been categorised based upon analysis of the need for an intervention. TfN continues to engage with National Highways on inputting to planning for investment through the RIS programme.
He informed the Board that as yet there had been no announcement on the budget for RIS3. TfN will continue to make the case that investment in the SRN is a critical asset, one requiring investment to maintain the existing network, improve safety, reliability and resilience.
On the issues raised by Members from rural areas he agreed to reflect comments made in updating and finalising TfN’s response to the SRN Initial Report. He highlighted the on-going work of TfN in supporting plans for the A66 dualling.
On the proposals for Manchester North West Quadrant (MNWQ) he explained that Transport for the North has been pushing for more information from the DfT and National Highways as to the current status of the MNWQ proposals. He explained that it is his understanding that National Highways has been asked to develop a package of improvement options that could be delivered over two or three RIS periods, however TfN has not yet been sighted on the outcome of that work.
7.14 Mayor Burnham suggested that when the Department returns with its proposed work for the North that the Board examines this in greater detail. Additionally, he suggested that the cost of the proposed schemes for the North be compared against the costs of schemes in other areas of the country, and that if the Board feels TfN is not getting enough funding, then this should be challenged, as should the prioritisation of the schemes.
The Chair agreed with Mayor Burnham’s suggestion and stated that in order to make the decisions around prioritisation then the data would need to be available around pinch points and delays which he believes is publicly available.
7.15 The Chief Executive reminded Board that the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review update is being used as part of the foundations of the Strategic Transport Plan. He explained that this shows that public investment per head in the North is still significantly below that of the South East and this is shown by the continued gap in GDP between the North and the rest of the country.
7.16 In response to the question on cycling Mr Simmons stated that when schemes are developed cycling and walking are part of thinking.
On the issue of modal shift he explained they have done a lot of work with Network Rail on things such as multi modal freight studies.
Mr Henry welcomed Members’ comments on prioritisation and explained that they will continue to liaise with the Treasury on the RIS 3 budget.
That the Board agrees to the proposed timetable and governance for finalising Transport for the North’s response (which will take on board comments made by the Board).