Bristol’s transport chief has played down the decision to veto an Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), saying the city does not need it to improve services.
Yesterday, at a meeting of the West of England Partnership (WoEP), councillors from authorities surrounding the city voted against Councillor Jon Rogers’ call for an ITA.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees of North Somerset – joined by Brian Allinson of South Gloucestershire and Charles Gerrish of Bath and North East Somerset – said the scheme would bring more costs to local taxpayers.
The scheme would allow the four authorities to take greater control of bus and rail services, as well as responsibility for A-roads and motorways.
A frustrated Cllr Rogers told the councillors they were being “complacent” by vetoing the plans, but speaking to Bristol24-7 earlier he said there was “no big split” between the four authorities.
“It was disappointing but not altogether surprising,” he said. “We’ve been thinking about thisÂ (the ITA) for four years and I said yesterday we should either kill the idea or explore it further. We voted on that and Cllr Ap Rees won.
“At least now we know we can’t progress this through the Partnership, so now we shall have to look at other ways of investigating it.
“It’s not a big split or aÂ major issue. We are keen to show how the Partnership works effectively and progress the Greater Bristol Bus Network, the Bus Rapid Transit scheme and South Bristol Link Road.
“We are determined we will deliver the best transport system for the city.”
Campaigners have criticised the decision – saying the ITA could give the greater Bristol region far more power in accessing government funding for transport infrastructure.
But while admitting that other cities such as Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – which have their own versions of the ITA – have been able to manage greater change and investment than Bristol, he said the WoEP could still achieve “great things together”.
“We don’t need an ITA to progress transport development and investment. There are other ways we can do a lot of significant improvements,” he said.
“We have unanimity across the four authorities, it’s just this discussion about how to deliver change that we have disagreed on.
“But it was important to look at it. Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester have actually managed to achieve greater change and invesment than we have. But there’s no reason to say we can’t manage it in the future.”