Labour Transport Group formed

04 March 2008

Over 70 people attended the first annual meeting of the Labour Transport Group at the Party’s Spring Conference last weekend. Chaired by former MEP Mark Watts, it included speeches from Transport Minister Rosie Winterton and Jack Dromey of the T&G.

 

The group’s high profile formation reflects a growing desire within the party for a more coherent approach to transport – especially when the parliamentary timetable is laden with Bills on the subject such as Local Transport, Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel. The Group wants to push transport higher up the political agenda, acknowledging that this will be one of the big battle-grounds in the next General Election.

 

The minister hoped the Group will provide a forum for local and national discussions - not least with the future localisation of transport decision-making which will result from the Local Transport Bill. She cited the need for more ‘integration’ and stressed that they should be more closely aligned to housing, environment and health policies and more coordinated with business developments. She also stressed the link between public transport and social inclusion and how access to transport can assist the unemployed in getting back to work. She said the role of the LTG could be to assist politicians in having the ‘vision to make difficult decisions.’

 

Winterton cited the success of concessionary fares for the over 60s and the free travel soon to be available to disabled travellers while the ‘quality contracts’ provided by the Local Transport Bill – they give local authorities the right to determine bus timetables, fares and routes – will give regions the regulatory powers enjoyed by London Transport for many years. She endorsed giving local authorities the power to expand passenger transport authorities and spreading best practice as well as supporting councillors in ‘getting the message across.’

 

Jack Dromey said the Labour Party was the ‘champion of public transport’, pointing out that the Local Transport Bill would introduce free travel for the elderly. He also praised Ken Livingstone’s achievements in London. .

 

A discussion followed on a range of subjects including the Woodhead Tunnel. The Minister said Ruth Kelly had ‘asked her to look into it’ and that they would be undertaking a study of future freight demands as well as talking to National Grid to ensure the tunnel is kept in good repair.

 

The Labour Transport Group is open to Labour Party members and individual membership is available for £10 a year. Further details are available from the Labour Transport Group, PO Box 427, Stevenage, SG1 9FD

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