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2022: Our year in review

2022: Our year in review

With the year drawing to a close it is time to look back and reflect on 2022.

As we continued to develop our Strategic Investment Plan, we built closer working relationships with partners from across the region. We worked closely with senior officers from local transport authorities, with our partnership board members and with transport operators. Collectively we have created what we believe is the most cost-effective and beneficial plan to improve transport in the south east region. Here’s a recap of some of the things that have happened in the last 12 months.

Growing the economy whilst decarbonising the transport system

We kicked off 2022 with a virtual event, on delivering economic growth in the context of decarbonisation. Co-hosted by TPS, the event included presentations and discussions featuring Rupert Clubb, Lead Officer at Transport for the South East, Greg Marsden, Professor in Transport Governance at the Institute for Transport Studies at University of Leeds, Katie Stewart from Surrey County Council and Jonathan Riggal, Director and Environment Team Leader at Stantec UK.

Discussions covered the need to level up areas of the south east, the important role improved connectivity plays in this, that there must be a reduction in traffic to reach decarbonisation targets and that transport infrastructure needs to support behaviour change and modal shift if we are to achieve net zero.

Read the event write up from Mark Frost, Chair of Transport Planning Society

Additional funding from the Department for Transport

In February the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded TfSE £600,000 of additional funding. This funding was offered to support work on; decarbonisation; electric vehicle charging infrastructure; Bus Back Better; and local capability.

This has enabled TfSE and partners to go further in support of the Department for Transport priorities

Baroness Vere praised the work of TfSE

On 1 February we had the pleasure of holding a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons. Huw Merriman MP and Chair of the Transport Select Committee hosted the event which was attended by Baroness Vere, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport and MPs from across the region.

Baroness Vere praised the work of STBs and the support they bring to the department and in particular commended our approach to the development of our strategic investment plan.

Baroness Vere alongside representatives of the TfSE Partnership Board.
L-R: Cllr Watkins, Cllr Monk, Baroness Vere, Daniel Ruiz, Cllr Furniss, TfSE Chair Cllr Glazier.

Completed work on our area studies

In April we finalised our area studies. These studies are the strategic link between our Transport Strategy and the Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). They are geographic studies based around the most important economic corridors in the region. Corridors which connect our biggest towns and cities and international gateways and where the greatest opportunities for sustainable economic growth exist.

Each study investigates the issues, challenges and opportunities identified in our transport strategy in more detail. Allowing us to identify the shortlist of interventions that have fed into the SIP.

Freight, Logistics and Gateways strategy launched

From cars made in the Midlands to Scotch whisky and Welsh steel. Each year we export goods worth hundreds of billions from the South East’s ports, airports and international rail connections. These busy international gateways also support the movement of millions of people between the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Our freight, logistics and international gateways strategy identifies the investment needed to better connect our region’s ports, airports and international rail links. Supporting sustainable economic growth here in the South East and across the UK. Moreover, it provides an action plan to deliver the strategy.

After approval by the TfSE Partnership Board at the beginning of the year we took to ITT Hub in May for the formal launch of our strategy.

We marked the launch with a roundtable discussion on some of the hot topics and areas for action in the strategy. Conversations covered, lorry parking and driver welfare facilities, decarbonisation and access to international gateways. Professionals active in the freight sector attended the session and many have since become members our Freight Forum.

Joined up thinking – the first ever joint STB conference

May 2022 brought all seven of England’s Sub-national Transport Bodies together at the Vox in Birmingham to host their inaugural STB Conference. The event presented the perfect opportunity for demonstrating our collective strategic leadership on transport infrastructure. It also provided an opportunity to share our joined-up thinking on themes such as decarbonisation, inclusive economic growth and freight.

Planning for the 2023 STB conference is already underway.

Launched public consultation on the SIP

Perhaps the most important event in the TfSE calendar was the launch of the public consultation on the draft SIP. Launching on 12 June and running for 12 weeks until 20 September the consultation sought views on our approach to this ambitious, multi-modal investment plan.

By consultation close we’d heard from 638 people including local councils, MPs, businesses, transport operators, action groups and residents. After taking on feedback received via the consultation a revised draft of the SIP returned to the Partnership Board for approval in November.

Connecting the South East

Attendees at the TfSE Connecting the South East Conference in July 2022

To promote the launch of the draft Strategic Investment Plan consultation we hosted an event at G-Live in Guildford. Inviting local councils, MP’s, businesses, transport operators, action groups and members of the public from across the region. It was their chance to hear first-hand the transformational potential of this ambitious plan.

Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Transport joined us once again and opened the event with a keynote. Presentations on the SIP and a programme of panels and discussions followed this. Topics covered included; how transport can enable businesses and communities to thrive and transport’s role in making the south east a leading global region for net-zero carbon and sustainable economic growth. We had a fantastic range of speakers and panellists including industry experts, Government officials (including Baroness Vere), academics with backgrounds in transport or the environment and professionals working within the transport industry.

Future Mobility Forum relaunched

In July we relaunched our Future Mobility forum. The first meeting since the publication of the Future Mobility Strategy and Action Plan in July 2021.

The forum includes public sector, private sector, third sector, universities and other research organisations from across the region. As a collective they take responsibility for progressing the actions published in the strategy.  

Pete Ramsay from WSP led the meeting. Siva Iyer from Connected Places Catapult, delivered a presentation on powering mobility innovation locally. Ruby Budd from Via talked about demand-responsive transport solutions. Finally, Steve Longman from Solent Transport presented on ‘Breeze’ their brand-new Mobility as a Service (MaaS) app. 

Developing an Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy for the region

In September we held our first Electric Vehicle forum. This forms part of our work to develop an EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy for the region.

The forum continues to grow with over 90 members. It includes Local Transport Authorities (LTAs), districts and boroughs, distribution network operators, fleet operators and charge point operators.

Development of the EV strategy is underway, establishing current and forecasting future demand for EV charge points across the region. The strategy will be finalised early next year. It will be accompanied by an action plan that informs and supports EV infrastructure rollout across the region.

Read more about the development of our EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy.

Partnership Board approved the final draft of Strategic Investment Plan*

In November 2022, the Partnership Board received the revised draft of the SIP. Five years of technical work, years of stakeholder engagement and a 12 week consultation had brought us to this point. Pending a few amendments*, the board approved the updated version. This was a landmark meeting for TfSE.

We will seek final approval in March 2023. Between now and then constituent authorities will take the plan through their own governance processes. Overall, discussions at the November Partnership Board showed support for the approach. Board members called for more support for active travel and rural mobility and these will be considered as we move to delivery. The board were very supportive of the huge amount work behind this ambitious investment plan.

Bus Back Better Support Packages launched

Over the last 6 months TfSE, England’s Economic Heartland and Transport East have been working with local transport authorities across the three regions to identify and provide the support they need to deliver on commitments in Government’s Bus Back Better strategy.

Together with Arup and Mott MacDonald, we have identified 11 support packages, available to LTAs. The packages covering fares and ticketing, infrastructure guidance, funding mechanisms and more will run from December 2022 to April 2023. The overall goal is to support LTAs with the delivery of their Bus Service Improvement Plans, encourage mode shift to buses, increase patronage and reduce carbon emissions.

Read more about the Bus Back Better support packages.

It has been a busy year for the TfSE team and wider partnership. We are grateful for the support and input we receive from all of our stakeholders. The work will continue into 2023 as we work towards final approval of the SIP, the delivery of our Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy, and the continued roll-out of our Bus Back Better support packages. We will continue to collaborate with other STBs and support the work of the Department for Transport.

2023 will be challenging but we believe, as a partnership, we have the foundations in place to deliver on our ambitious but achievable strategic investment plan and create the transport infrastructure that will make life better for people, for business and for the environment.