All change on say over transport schemes

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DECISION-makers in Yorkshire are to be given the final say over which major transport schemes get the go-ahead under plans unveiled by the Government.

Ministers want to relinquish the power to decide which schemes are approved and let local people decide instead as part of the Government’s policy of “localism”.

The plans – which will affect schemes costing more than £5m – are likely to please many businesses and politicians in the region who have long campaigned for more control over transport spending.

Under the proposals, groups of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) would team together to manage a pot of money and decide which major schemes it should fund.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond admits it would require “political maturity” to prevent fighting between nearby towns and cities all championing their own pet project, but maintained it is better than the Government having the final say, as happens currently.

“Real localism, genuine localism, means a culture change across central and local government, to drive a radical shift in power away from Whitehall, and into the hands of local people, local businesses and local communities,” he said.

“It requires local authorities, LEPs, businesses and communities to work together in partnership – and be prepared to accept compromise and necessary trade-offs to unlock barriers to growth.

“In relation to capital projects, it will require a high degree of political maturity to pursue sub-national priorities – this process will not succeed if capital funds are divided into penny packets for each constituent part.”

The plans – to apply from 2015 – will be consulted on later this year. Ministers are considering bids for funding before then, with 45 projects – including several in Yorkshire – competing for a share of £700m.