Monday, 17 October 2011

Labour reshuffles Transport team

Amidst all the excitement of Friday's Foxtrot the following from the Labour party may have gone un-noticed:

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle MP has reorganised the responsibilities of Labour’s front-bench transport team in line with the priorities that emerged from the first year of the party’s policy review.

The shake-up has also enabled a move away from a strict mirroring of the government’s division of Ministerial responsibilities and instead seen the creation of three new cross-cutting briefs covering international, national and regional/local transport.

Ed Miliband MP’s recent reshuffle of Labour’s front-bench saw Lilian Greenwood MP join the transport team as Shadow Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Regional and Local Transport. She joins Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Shadow Minister of State for International Transport and London; John Woodcock MP, Shadow Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Transport; and Pat Glass MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Maria Eagle, with responsibility for young people’s transport.

In addition to these cross-cutting briefs, each member of the frontbench team will take responsibility for the areas of Labour’s transport policy review that have been identified as priorities for the coming year.

Demonstrating the importance that Labour is attaching to the issue, Maria Eagle MP will lead a review into reform of the rail industry. The review will look at all options for reform, with its starting point being that tackling the fragmented structure of the industry is vital to deliver better affordability for both tax-payers and fare-payers. Labour’s policy review has supported the devolution of rail services and the review will look at how best to achieve this, while identifying the right future delivery model for inter-city services.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP will lead a review looking at how we can best deliver the aviation capacity needed for economic competitiveness, while reducing emissions and increasing sustainability. While a third runway at Heathrow has been ruled out by the government, there is a growing consensus that British business is suffering from the decision not to permit aviation growth in the South East. This review will look at how best this can be achieved.

John Woodcock MP will lead a review looking at how transport infrastructure and procurement could contribute to growth and jobs through longer term planning. The review will also look at how investment in different modes, such as road and rail, could be better integrated and jointly planned. In addition, John Woodcock MP will lead a review into how surface transport’s contribution to climate change should be tackled. It will look at what the different roles of government and industry should be.

Lilian Greenwood MP will lead a review into how best to further devolve transport decision making and funding, including local roads and rail services. The review will look at the powers and responsibilities of Integrated Transport Authorities and how these could be extended and rolled out across other parts of England. The review will also seek to identify how best to deliver a reversal of bus deregulation and ensure local communities can deliver bus services in a more effective way that puts passengers first.

Finally, Pat Glass MP will continue the work that has been done over the past year in Labour’s parallel Young People’s Transport Policy Review. In particular, she will lead a review into affordability and accessibility of transport for young people and how to deliver a concessionary fares scheme for 16-18 year olds in education and training.

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle MP said: Labour has set a new direction for its future transport policy: putting communities in charge, tackling irresponsibility at the top, backing British manufacturing, jobs and growth and making the affordability of transport our number one priority. It’s great to have such a strong parliamentary team to hold this Tory-led government to account and, just as importantly, do the hard work needed to enable us to deliver on our new transport priorities in the future.

So now you know.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Two interesting things tucked away here: one the recognition that the railway industry is too fragmented. Two the recognition that bus deregulation has not worked.

Of course, they only had 13 years to do something about both issues when in power, so don’t hold your breath.