10 December 2004
Councils will be encouraged to lodge joint applications for new Whitehall funding to pay for local transport networks aimed at reducing congestion.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling wants councils that share road and rail networks to apply jointly for hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding to be detailed in the chancellor's Budget report next spring.
Darling said it was unlikely that individual councils would benefit from the new Transport Innovation Fund. He said: 'It is more likely that we will favour groups of councils, because issues like regional road congestion affect a number of different authorities,' he said.
Speaking at an Institute for Public Policy Research event on December 7, Darling said the Department for Transport had already received 'informal' approaches from councils interested in receiving cash from the fund, which was outlined in his summer white paper, The future of transport.
'If a group of councils were to come forward with a workable proposal… we will have a sufficient fund of money to deal with the issues raised,' he added.
Public Finance understands that councils in the Manchester area could be among the first beneficiaries of the cash pool, which will complement money local authorities receive from central government annually.
But Darling warned that assessing each project would take time, and added that the first cash allocations were still 'two or three years away'.