Metro mayors to be handed powers over key roads

30/07/2021
Dominic Browne

Metro mayors could be handed more powers over important roads in their areas, under plans announced by Government today.

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on giving metro mayors and their combined authorities greater, standardised control over the local Key Route Network (KRN) - strategic local routes, usually making up a small percentage of the overall network.

The proposals include:

  • providing mayors with sole or concurrent highway powers over the KRN
  • giving mayoral combined authorities the ability to delegate highway powers to local authorities
  • providing mayors with the power to direct a local authority to deliver schemes agreed in their local transport plan
  • giving mayors or constituent local authorities the ability to request responsibility for a route by order of the Transport Secretary

The consultation document states this would lead to a 'more integrated and efficient approach across city regions to the allocation of road space and new infrastructure, supporting more new walking and cycling infrastructure and improved bus services'.

Officials also pointed out that it also would standardise the system, which due to the nature of devolution deals, currently sees each mayoral combined authority have different powers, responsibilities and capabilities for its KRN – some statutory but others agreed administratively, which requires approval from all constituent councils. 

The changes would mean transferring key highway and traffic authority functions from local authorities to mayoral combined authorities, which could present difficulties in some areas.

KRNs are some of the most important roads in a combined authority for which the mayoral combined authorities and the constituent authorities can both hold powers, although there is a mixture of arrangements across the country.

In London Transport for London (TfL) has responsibility for their equivalent of KRNs, Greater London Authority (GLA) roads (also known as ‘red routes’).

This is not the case for England’s other city regions 'but is an option which should be available to every city region', the Government consultation document states.

Outside London, mayors of combined authorities have responsibility for strategic transport but only limited highway powers over their KRNs.

The consultation ends on the 24 September.

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