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26th CfIT plenary meeting
9.30am, Thursday 17 July
Royal Academy of Engineering, Westminster

Papers:

Agenda

1: Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising

2: Concessionary Fares - Jack Jones to attend

3: EU Transport Developments - Briefing by John Stevens, DfT

10.30 - Coffee

4: Congestion Measurement - Presentation by Robert Devereux, DfT

5: Impact of London Congestion Charging - Progress report by Faber Maunsell

6: Retail and Leisure Parking - Progress report by Faber Maunsell

7: External Costs of Aviation - Interim report back to plenary

The following items will be taken as read:

8: Motorists' Forum Road Safety Report

9: Outline of CfIT 2002-03 Annual Report

10: Plenary Programme

11: Programme Expenditure

12: CfIT Website

12.30 - Lunch

Minutes

Present:

Professor David Begg, Sir Trevor Chinn, Neil Betteridge, Stewart Francis, Sir Michael Hodgkinson, Helen Holland, Stephen Joseph, Lilli Matson, Sir Roy McNulty, Sir Bill Morris, Mike Parker, Michael Roberts, Neil Scales, Baroness Ros Scott.

Andy Braithwaite, Steve Guyon, Grant Allan, Richard Mace, Geoff Copley (FaberMaunsell), Nigel Shepherd (FaberMaunsell).

Jack Jones (item 2), Peter Gibson (item 2), Ted Driscoll (item 2), Eddie Richardson (item 2), John Stevens (item 3), Robert Devereux (item 4).

Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Richard Bowker, Lawrence Christensen, Stephen Hickey and David Leeder.

The Secretary of State was unable to attend due to diary pressures leading up to the summer recess. It was agreed that the Chair would invite the Secretary of State and senior officials to a future plenary to discuss the review of the 10 Year Plan.

Action: Chair to invite the Secretary of State and senior officials to a future plenary.

1. Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising

1.1 The minutes of the last meeting on 15 May were agreed as circulated. All actions had been addressed or were in progress. The Chair gave an update on the following points under matters arising:

1.2 New ex-officio Members
Two of CfIT's ex-officio Members had been replaced. The Chair welcomed Neil Betteridge, of Arthritis Care, to the meeting as a new CfIT member. He had replaced Jane Wilmot as Chair of DPTAC. Tim Matthews had stepped down as Chief Executive of the Highways Agency. An open competition was in progress to appoint Tim's successor. While this was in train, Stephen Hickey, Director General of DfT's Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group, had taken over as the Acting Chief Executive of the Highways Agency. Stephen would sit on CfIT in an ex-officio capacity until such time as a permanent Chief Executive had been appointed.

1.3 Second Assessment Report
CfIT published its second assessment report on progress towards delivering the 10 Year Plan on 7 July. The report had aimed to provide an objective and independent assessment based on robust analysis. Members felt the report had received good media coverage through press briefing and the Chair's television and radio interviews.

1.4 CfIT Review
The Chair had met with Charles Rice, who was leading the review, to discuss the progress of the CfIT review and updated Members. It was agreed that the CfIT Secretary would write to Charles Rice to convey the Members' view that they should have the opportunity to comment on the draft report prior to its submission to Ministers in July.

Action: CfIT Secretary to write to Charles Rice.

2. Public Subsidy for the Bus Industry: Concessionary Fares [Paper]

2.1 The Chair welcomed Jack Jones, President of the T&G Retired Members Association, to the meeting. Mr Jones and three other representatives of pensioner groups, had been invited to present their case against CfIT's recommendation that OAP concessionary fares should be limited to the 50% statutory minimum and for spreading concessions to other, socially excluded groups.

2.2 The main arguments put forward by the delegation were as follows:

(i) The health and welfare impacts of isolation caused by cost related transport social exclusion are significant;
(ii) The fall in patronage resulting from reduction of free travel to the statutory minimum concession (50%) would undermine the commercial viability of some services and cause their withdrawal;
(iii) Introducing the need for payment would reduce the ease of access through time spent fumbling for change; and
(iv) The CfIT recommendation is "the thin end of the wedge " leading to means testing of concessionary bus travel for pensioners.

2.3 The Chair thanked Jack Jones and his delegation for their views. He apologised on behalf of CfIT for not consulting them during the course of the research. Nevertheless, he urged the delegation to consider CfIT's report in the round. It had recommended a substantial increase in public subsidy for the bus industry, translating into more buses, more routes, better frequencies and more investment in low floor easy access buses. CfIT Members were asked for their views.

2.4 On Merseyside, where pensioners currently enjoyed full concessions, the number of pensioners travelling on buses was falling. Limiting concessions would not cause services to be withdrawn, as the operators were reimbursed by local authorities for concessionary fares.

2.5 Members felt that, as representatives of CfIT, they had a responsibility to tackle social exclusion across the piece and this involved all age groups, including pensioners. The recommendation was aimed at creating a level playing field, so that the benefits of concessionary bus fares could be better targeted at the socially excluded.

2.6 The Tyne and Wear PTE moved away from free travel in 1991. Yet concessionary travel was at a higher rate than on Merseyside, where pensioners still travelled for free. Overall, car ownership had driven down bus patronage. Concessionary fares were difficult to fund, as transport authorities were constrained by a fixed budget when judging between concessionary travel and funding for secured services.

2.7 Members felt that what was important for the elderly and disabled was a combination of quality as well as affordability. More frequent and better quality services such as low floor buses gave the elderly and disabled more confidence to travel in comfort and safety.

2.8 After the Jack Jones delegation had left, members debated all the points raised in the meeting. On the basis of the evidence put before them, Members were not minded to alter the report's recommendation. However, it was felt that further evidence would help in reaching a final decision. It was agreed to write to Jack asking for further written evidence in support of his case.

Action: Chair to write to Jack Jones on the outcome of the discussion and seeking further written evidence on a number of issues.

3. EU Transport Developments

3.1 The Chair welcomed John Stevens from DfT's Europe and International Division who had been invited to the meeting to provide CfIT Members with a brief update on transport developments in the European Union.

3.2 The current Italian presidency of the EU had developed some sensible priorities for the next 6 months, including focus on the Trans-European Network (TEN), road user charging and road safety projects. Improvement to the TEN would be delivered through a series of road, rail, air and sea projects. A working group had recently reported on a list of major projects and how they would be funded, which included one 2bn project for the UK (a land bridge between Ireland and the Continent).

3.3 DfT also highlighted that the manner in which EU business is conducted was changing rapidly. The 10 accession states were already taking part in debates and working groups before becoming full members in 2004.

Action: Secretariat to invite John Stevens to the Jan 2004 Plenary.

4. DfT MMS Announcements and Work on Congestion Measurement

4.1 The Chair welcomed Robert Devereux, DG of Roads, Regional and Local Transport Group, to the meeting. Robert was invited to brief Members on the recent MMS announcements and to update the Commission on the progress made by DfT in developing its measures of congestion.

4.2 MMS Announcements
On 9 July, the Secretary of State announced the outcomes of 11 multi modal studies. The announcements included a number of decisions for additional road capacity, largely widening major motorways which were already operating close to capacity throughout the day. A number of schemes had been rejected, including some which would have damaging environmental consequences. The announcements were accompanied by the publication of the paper - "Managing Our Roads", which focuses on the pressures over the next 20 to 30 years on the strategic road network. The report outlines three strands of work:

4.3 The Department for Transport also announced a feasibility study "to advise the SoS on practical options for the design and implementation of a new system for charging road use in the UK". The objectives for such a system were to deliver a more efficient approach to transport pricing; respecting public privacy; and delivering higher economic growth and environmental benefits. The steering group for the study would be chaired by Robert Devereux and would include key stakeholders.

4.4 As one component of the Department's strategy for making the best use of current road capacity, the Highways Agency would be given new powers to direct traffic flows, deploying a new uniformed motorway patrol service working in close co-operation with the police. HA would also establish a network of regional traffic control centres.

4.5 Congestion Measurement
In response to recommendations from the Motorists' Forum, DfT had commissioned detailed research on the measurement of congestion across the UK.

4.6 It was clear that existing data sources could be used to deliver routinely a variety of congestion measures, at a disaggregated level. The Department was analysing data on A roads covered by Trafficmaster, and developing similar analysis from different data for motorways. Urban congestion measurement was not as straightforward as trunk roads (more roads, many more journeys) but data from in-vehicle systems, in use with many fleet and other operators, looked attractive subject to further validation in the autumn. The intention was produce routine data, for inter-urban and key urban areas, from 2004. There would also be bilateral discussions with key local authorities to complete the picture. New congestion measurement data would go beyond the current 'time lost' measurement to ensure that it was more meaningful to motorists. DfT would provide a further update to the Motorists' Forum in early 2004. CfIT welcomed the programme of research.

Action: CfIT to invite Robert Devereux to the January plenary.

5. Impact of London Congestion Charging

5.1 The report had been commissioned to investigate the impact of the London congestion charging scheme on certain central London businesses (taxis, couriers, small food outlets, large retailers and the low paid). The original intention had been for this report to provide CfIT with a feel for the short run impact on various sectors of London's retail/commercial economy. It was agreed that the report needed more work. It would be redrafted in accordance with Members' comments and submitted to TfL for information, as they were conducting a major review of the impact of the London scheme.

Action: FaberMaunsell to redraft report.
Action: CfIT to submit report to TfL to input into their own study.

6. Retail and Leisure Parking

6.1 Members considered the report on the operation of existing retail and leisure parking policy (as set out in the ITWP). The report also considered various improvements to the current policy and alternative approaches.

It was agreed that a brief for a second stage of research would be drafted and circulated to Members for agreement.

6.2 This would identify a series of policy options and the pros and cons in terms of their impact on the retail industry and social exclusion and use case studies. In particular it would look at the shortcomings of current policy and its impact on:

It would also examine whether each option had a significant impact upon travel behaviour, or whether it was simply a revenue raiser. The brief would include consideration of the Open University research proposal produced by Stephen Potter on the use of business rate adjustments to incentivise parking policies.

Action: Secretariat to circulate revised brief to Members for agreement.

6.3 Following completion of the second stage of research, written evidence would be sought from stakeholders and hearings would be arranged. Stakeholders were likely to include the British Retail Consortium, Local Authorities (including Nottingham as they were pioneering the Workplace Parking Levy), Nottingham Chamber of Commerce, Regional Bodies (including the NW Regional Assembly), the Association of Town Centre Managers and representatives of large retail centres such as the Trafford Centre in Manchester. A short paper would be sent to stakeholders based on the main report before they submitted evidence.

Action: Secretariat to seek written evidence from stakeholders and arrange a hearing session following completion of the second stage of research.

6.4 It was agreed the project would be completed by the end of the year, when recommendations would be submitted to Ministers.

7. External Costs of Aviation

7.1 Members discussed the draft CfIT report produced by the Aviation Working Group. Members felt that the current draft could be made clearer by restructuring the report and the use of plain English.

7.2 CfIT established the following principles to guide its thinking:

7.3 The report would be redrafted by the CfIT Secretariat in accordance with Members' comments and re-circulated to Members within the next two weeks for approval.

Action: Secretariat to redraft aviation report and circulate to Members within the next two weeks for approval.

8.1 The following papers were noted and approved:

Motorists' Forum Road Safety Report - CfIT (03) 29
Outline of CfIT 2002-03 Annual Report - CfIT (03) 30
Plenary Programme - CfIT (03) 31
Programme Expenditure - CfIT (03) 32
CfIT Website - CfIT (03) 33

Date of Next Meeting

The next plenary meeting would be held on Wednesday 24th September in London at the Royal Academy of Engineering.