Highway and traffic authorities have been told by the Transport Secretary to take measures to deliver ‘transformative change’ to their urban streets within an urgent timeframe. If they don’t, they could be in breach of new Statutory Guidance. Robert Huxford explored how local authorities could best respond in his contribution to last week’s LTT online reader discussion
01 June 2020
We recognise this moment for what it is: a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities.” This is Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps’ message in the foreword to the statutory guidance on network management in response to COVID-19. He then goes on to mention the benefits of active travel, including health, reduced air pollution and carbon emissions and local economic benefit. To anyone who has campaigned for these sorts of measures, this can only be seen as welcome backing. But the challenge now is to equip and support the local highway and traffic authorities in delivering things on the ground.
In law, statutory guidance is a type of guidance that councils must follow unless they have a very good reason not to. It is not something that can be noted and then ignored. A council may deviate from statutory guidance where it judges on admissible grounds that there is good reason to do so, but they do not have the freedom to take a substantially different course.
The Statutory Guidance is issued under Section 18 of the Traffic Management Act, and relates to the discharge of the Section 16 Network Management Duty. Implicit in this duty is a whole-network approach, and not piece- meal measures. The Statutory Guidance specifically calls for “whole-route” approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres.