Proposals in the draft Local Transport Bill to tackle congestion – including local congestion charge schemes – fail to consider the needs of commercial vehicles accessing towns and cities to deliver the goods and services that communities require.
Giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, the Freight Transport Association told MPs that the draft bill required amendments to provide a statutory duty for local authorities to consider the needs of freight in local transport planning and local congestion charge schemes.
FTA says that road pricing is only part of the solution – any such scheme must be preceded by improvements such as shared priority lanes and amendments to delivery curfews, alongside investment in public transport. The Committee was also told that local authority proposals must be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport along with plans for the allocation of revenue from charging, which must not be confined to passenger transport initiatives.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA's Head of Roads Policy, told the Committee, 'If we have to pay £5 on a congestion charge, we must see a greater benefit in improved journey times and other access provision.'
The Association expressed strong concerns over the proposed new powers to be granted to passenger transport authorities, who may not consider freight movements as a priority. James Firth, FTA's Roads Policy Manager, told the Committee, 'We would want to see a statutory requirement for Integrated Transport Strategies to consider freight needs.'