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Is the South East about to get a new transport body?

Written by Stephen Goodall

Account Executive

The South East is seeking to gain its own transport statutory body, newly published board papers from East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council reveal.

The papers say that plans for Transport for the South East (TfSE) are developing “in parallel” with the region’s devolution deal.

Who are the South East Seven?

The South East Seven (SE7) Councils (East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey County Councils, Brighton & Hove City Council and Medway Council) and the Local Enterprise Partnerships that represent the area have been in officer level discussion about the establishment of a Sub-National Transport Body (SNTB) for the South East, to be called Transport for the South East (TfSE).

Discussions are also under way to allow the Hampshire unitary authorities and Solent LEP to join the body. This would establish an area large enough to allow for genuine strategic consideration and planning of transport infrastructure, which would meet the requirements for creating a SNTB under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act.

What are the ambitions behind the proposals?

It is hoped that the proposed TfSE would aid authorities in securing influence over national and regional infrastructure providers, helping to ensure the infrastructure required to support continuing economic growth. A TfSE would see Government, South East Transport Authorities and/or Combined Authorities and LEPs working together with Highways England, Network Rail and port, airport and bus operators.

Local decision makers have argued that TfSE would provide a mechanism for the area to speak with a strong, common voice on transport infrastructure and provide a single platform for strategic transport and infrastructure issues, giving partners greater, and potentially direct, influence over decisions that are currently made elsewhere.

The cornerstone of the plans is the development of a single, strategic transport infrastructure framework which would align the investment programmes and priorities from key agencies, such as Highways England and Network Rail, and also the LEPs. TfSE presents the opportunity to support and deliver growth plans across the area through the development of a long-term strategic programme which identifies a comprehensive package of transport measures in a bid to make the South East more competitive. It would complement the work of the LEPs in the delivery of their Strategic Economic Plans and support the delivery of Local Plans.

What next?

The councils aim to gain the Parliamentary order establishing the TfSE by 2018, after a period of extensive consultation.

The board paper asked East Sussex Council to approve plans to create a shadow transport body ahead of creating the TfSE, in order to demonstrate commitment to the idea and prove to the Government that the authorities have a strong strategic partnership. Meanwhile, in Brighton and Hove, the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee voted to agree that the City Council should join the shadow sub national transport body.


The shadow body will be accompanied by a draft transport strategy for the region, including plans to establish TfSE and a sub-national transport body leaders’ board, which will ensure governance reflects the aspirations of local authorities.


Wondering how a new transport body could affect you? Why not contact one of our policy experts at Remarkable

Southern Devolution, Devolution, transport