Manchester has fostered developer confidence in the infrastructure which has improved investor confidence in the city. This has been achieved whilst delivering a capital programme focused on the city’s transport needs and tackling congestion.
Greater Manchester authorities have long recognised that greater connectivity and less congestion in the city is one of the key ways to encourage local growth. However they have struggled to invest in long term solutions with fragmented annual funding rounds and competitive funds to bid from.
That recognition has led to a different kind of conversation with local politicians and businesses, backed by a new approach to funding decisions in partnership with the Government.
Greater Manchester stated in their submissions to the Government that they would be prepared to stake significant resources into a fund in return for greater certainty of funding over a longer period and also removal of ring-fences so money can be managed in one fund which has a set of local priorities and criteria for investment. This led to the creation of the Greater Manchester Transport Fund.
By committing local funding of approximately £1bn by the end of this decade nearly £3bn worth of investment has been secured. The local funds were raised through a top slice of the integrated transport block, a proportion of the income from Manchester’s tram system income and an additional levy on council tax. It was agreed with Government that Greater Manchester could lead the regional arrangements for major scheme funding and pool resources across the city.
Those elements allowed Greater Manchester to have a local process of prioritisation and a robust delivery vehicle for major schemes. The transport fund has delivered flexibility and scale over transport funding.
This approach has enabled Greater Manchester to sustain a successful delivery partner for the Metrolink programme allowing improvements to the Metrolink on time and on budget which would have been considerably more difficult if budgets for works would have had to been renewed annually. Provision of Metrolink Phase 3 has resulted in overall public transport capacity into the city centre increasing by 5%, with Metrolink capacity into the city centre increasing by 68%. These figures will be significantly boosted now that the Second City Crossing is open and service frequencies increase. This funding approach have enabled people in Greater Manchester access to an even better public transport system, thereby helping to manage congestion levels.
How is the new approach being sustained?
Conversations with the Government are ongoing about how the approach will develop given the new role of the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
This and other case studies related to reducing congestion can be found in the LGA publication 'A country in a jam: tackling congestion in our towns and cities'.