City councillors back move for transport body
BRISTOL has taken a further step towards wrestling more control of its bus and rail services away from central Government.
City councillors last night agreed to try to set up a new body which would give the city and neighbouring authorities greater power over issues including setting their own rail and bus routes.
They pledged to work with North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils in an attempt to set up an Integrated Transport Authority.
At a full meeting of the city council, there was cross-party support for a motion raised by the authority's transport chief, Tim Kent, and amended by Labour's transport spokesman, Mark Bradshaw.
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The motion states: "The Department for Transport wants Bristol City Council and its neighbours to strengthen their working relationship to unlock additional devolution of transport powers."
It went on to call for:
â More devolution of transport powers, particularly over rail and bus services.
â Substantial investment to meet demand for an "integrated, modern and affordable public transport network".
â A costed paper on "quality contracts" to be prepared for discussion by the council in September.
If quality contracts were introduced, it would mean the council would be responsible for bus transport in the city and private operators such as First would have to bid for the contracts to run routes.
However, councillor Kent's plans to seek approval for the setting up of a new transport company for Bristol were sidelined.
The Liberal Democrat executive member for transport had called on the council to set up a Bristol Transport Company to allow more power and funding to be devolved from central government to the council to improve public transport. But all references were removed from the motion when it was amended by councillor Bradshaw.
Although the city council has made its intentions on an ITA clear, there is no consensus among neighbouring authorities.
Elfan Ap Rees, councillor in charge of transport at North Somerset Council has opposed an ITA, saying any increase in council tax to fund it would be "complete nonsense".