Leaders from across the South East have launched an ambitious new partnership to transform the transport network for the travelling public and businesses and to ensure the area remains a driver of the UK economy.
Transport for the South East (TfSE) will speak with a single voice on the area’s transport priorities. It will devise an integrated transport strategy to focus the attention of ministers on the area’s needs and will directly influence when and where money is invested in the South East’s transport network.
The new partnership brings together the area’s 16 transport authorities and five local enterprise partnerships to work directly with the Department for Transport. It will also involve road and rail-builders Highways England and Network Rail, transport operators, transport users and other key interest groups. A sub-national transport body, TfSE is currently operating in shadow form but intends to secure full Government backing and statutory powers within two years.
At the first meeting of TfSE, partners elected Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council as chairman with Cllr Tony Page, Deputy Leader of Reading Borough Council and representative of the Berkshire Local Transport Forum, as vice-chairman.
Partners at the meeting on Monday (26 June) discussed their ambitions to not only deliver smoother, congestion-free journeys and make the best use of digital and emerging technology in transport, but also to enhance the South East’s vital role in national growth.
Cllr Glazier said: “The South East is a major driver of the UK economy – contributing over £200 billion a year, more than Scotland and Wales combined. But its transport network is creaking so it’s vital the Government does not take its foot off the pedal in targeting much-needed investment in this area. This is why we have come together to highlight the transport priorities for our residents and businesses and find innovative ways of building a truly resilient and modern transport system that will enhance the South East’s success.
“Our transport network is nationally and internationally significant: it takes in two of the country’s biggest airports, many of its busiest motorways, a string of major ports and crucial railway links to London, the rest of Britain and to mainland Europe. But there’s no one body which directs this area network, and that’s the vitally important job that Transport for the South East can fulfil. “
In an article written for local media earlier this year, Cllr Warren Morgan, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council year stressed the need for an improved rail service in the south.
Calling in the article for a rail service Brighton and Hove could rely on, Cllr Morgan today repeated his call for a new body - Rail South - which would bring together councils and business representatives, working under the umbrella of Transport for the South East.
Cllr Morgan said:
"I want to see TfSE focusing on improving rail services, and that in turn it sets up 'Rail South' to give commuters, businesses and other rail users a statutory, democratic and accountable voice in who runs our rail service and how they perform.”