Greener Journeys is pleased to be a sponsor of the Transport Knowledge Hub, which launches today at the LEP Annual Conference at the QEII in Westminster.
Transport is central to unlocking growth, which is why transport infrastructure investment accounts for such a significant proportion of allocated Local Growth Fund. The key question is what is needed to facilitate investments which will deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
In bringing together the private and public sectors, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role. And as today's conference highlights, LEPs have generated significant benefits since they were created, delivering for example over £7 billion additional private sector investment over the past six years.
However, they also face significant challenges. Last year the National Audit Office highlighted that only 5% of LEPs feel they have sufficient resources to meet the expectations placed on them by Government.
Meanwhile, massive cuts to local authority budgets have seen revenue funding squeezed, to the point that in some areas all but statutory services are at risk of being axed. The result is that local government expenditure on pro-growth measures such as housing, planning and economic development has reduced disproportionately.
Against this challenging backdrop, the business expertise and private sector funding which LEPs can bring will be critical in the delivery of successful investments. As will strong partnership working with local government and other stakeholders.
Over the past year Greener Journeys has been working closely with LEPs and local authorities to help to create the Transport Knowledge Hub.
The Hub, which is funded jointly by the Department for Transport and Greener Journeys, will provide local decision makers with the tools and information to make economically effective transport investment decisions. It will also be a catalyst for creating a community of local decision makers.
A free online resource, the Hub offers best practice guidance relating to the selection, development, and delivery of transport investments; as well as best practice case studies from across the transport spectrum including bus, rail, cycling and road.
It also has a news and community section featuring a weekly news update, compiled by Robert Jack, Managing Editor of Passenger Transport, and Andrew Forster, Editor of Local Transport Today, ensuring that local decision makers are kept up-to-date with relevant news.
For the Hub to fulfil its purpose, it needs to meet the needs of the community that is serves. Therefore, its content and ongoing development will be overseen by a Board of LEPs and local authorities, chaired by Hilary Chipping, Deputy CEO at South East Midlands LEP. Board members also Local Partnerships, the LEP Network, the Department for Transport and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (part of HMT and Cabinet Office).
The Hub presents local decision makers with a huge opportunity to share information and best practice, and to create a community that will help to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Local transport projects can be transformative, with effective investment in local bus infrastructure, for example, delivering up to £7 of economic benefits for every £1 invested.
The Hub has been designed very much as a community, and will be of most benefit if all members use it as a platform to share information and experiences for the benefit of all. So please, visit the site; follow the Hub on Twitter; and join the community on LinkedIn. Together we can help develop transport projects that will really make a difference.