TPS Chair's message October 2021

With suggestions of an Indian summer proving so far elusive, the arrival of autumn brings with it both cooler air and the customary acceleration of activity in the sector as we move towards the end of the calendar year. 

As I write we await news of the outcome of comprehensive spending review conversations – amidst a tough round of negotiations between departments and the treasury how will requests for billions to support local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Strategies and Bus Back Better be received in No. 11?  For London colleagues, will there finally be a longer term financial deal struck that allows some semblance of efficient planning of future programmes to resume? With the backdrop of an imminent COP 26 and a surprise fuel crisis, what will the Treasury’s own ‘net zero’ review finally say about sustainable (environmentally and fiscally) approach to motoring taxation as we move ever more towards electric mobility? 

Amidst all the ongoing uncertainty for our sector linked to the pandemic and the growing impacts and challenges of a changing climate, it can be frustrating to have this extra manufactured and sometimes avoidable uncertainty playing additional havoc with our profession.  In the light of this, it was incredibly heartening to see this report from National Infrastructure Commission: Fundamental shift in funding to local level needed to help level up English towns - NIC.  Key recommendations in this report that will bring joy to many in the sector:

- No more competitive bidding

- Increase funding to local transport by 40%

- five year settlements, more devolution

This would be radical, transformational stuff, that ultimately comes down to government trusting professionals and local bodies to deliver on identified priorities in the most appropriate way considering local context. Let's hope it falls on sympathetic ears in Government.

I was also very pleased to give evidence to the All Party Political Group (APPG) on Walking and Cycling on their investigation into Cycling Walking Investment Strategy 2.  Our submission is here: TPS.pdf (allpartycycling.org) and their final report here: All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group | Reaching our active travel potential - All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (allpartycycling.org).  It was great to see our key point that government needs to adopt a supportive ‘no authority left behind’ strategy to ensure that everywhere in the country has the opportunity to introduce transformative active travel infrastructure was taken on board by the APPG as a central recommendation.

Activity within TPS itself continues to focus on our Transport Planning Day 2021 campaign around equality diversity and inclusion, and indeed we are seeing a real ramp up of activity as we get closer to TP Day itself on 15 November.  Right off the back of an excellent session from our 2020 bursarians on creating an accessible network, we had a industry roundtable on EDI (hosted by our platinum sponsor Aecom) and a session on best practice in Equality Impact Assessment. 

Upcoming events include our joint webinar with CILT 'Sustainability vs Inclusion: Squaring the Circle'. You can find out more here. We are also hosting a webinar sponsored by Transport for Greater Manchester exploring advancements in technology in independent mobility on the 2nd November.

Keep an eye out for updates on Transport Planning day which is being held on the 15th November. The event hosts an incredible line up of speakers from inside and outside the sector reflecting on the industry’s role in tackling key issues of equality.

TP Day isn’t just a TPS affair of course – we’ve had great stories from a number of transport planning companies and organisations who are planning to celebrate the profession on 15 November.  From thematic workshops to seminars, through pub quizzes and team challenges it sounds like there is a huge enthusiasm within the sector for a day to pause and reflect at what it means to be a transport planner after a turbulent 18 months.  Let us know what you are planning via email info@tps.org or tagging us in your social media platforms and we’ll publicise this in our next ‘TP Day’ special bulletin in November.

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