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Tackling city congestion can’t be done from London, says Armitt

Words: Laura Edgar
Congestion in Manchester / iStock-458887769

Manchester is the second most congested city in England, according to a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) congestion league table, and chairman Sir John Armitt says this cannot be addressed from London, but must be tackled by metro mayors.

London sees more traffic congestion than other areas of England, with Yorkshire, the East Midlands, and cities on the South Coast also making the top 10.

In fact, cities make up the top 25, with the area of Accrington and Rossendale being the first non-city in the league table.

Chairman of the NIC, Sir John Armitt, said this demonstrates the “clear need” for major new investment in the UK’s urban transport networks.

In July this year, the NIC published its National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA), which recommended that metro mayors and other city leaders should develop integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing. This should be backed by £43 billion of funding to 2040 in addition to current spending plans.

The top 10 most congested parts of England outside London are:

  1. Manchester
  2. Liverpool
  3. Birmingham
  4. Portsmouth and Southampton
  5. Nottingham
  6. Leeds
  7. Bristol
  8. Brighton
  9. Leicester
  10. Bournemouth

Armitt has written to leaders in more than 50 English cities to offer the commission’s support as they develop their integrated plans to improve local transport, create employment opportunities and deliver new homes.

The commission plans to work directly with a small number of cities, while simultaneously sharing the lessons learnt with other areas.

Armitt said: “From Manchester to Bournemouth our cities are facing gridlock – creating misery for people trying to get from A to B. Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.”

Citing the NIA, he called for powers and increased funding to be devolved from Whitehall to local leaders.

“This offers the best chance for our cities to reach their full potential while remaining vibrant and exciting places for people to live and work, and so I’ve offered the support of my commission to help local leaders pull together plans to do just that.”

The commission compared how people can travel at peak times with travelling at off-peak times. The areas where the experience varied “considerably” were ranked as being the most congested, with those experiences considered “broadly similar” ranked the least congested.

The commission explained that its approach to measuring traffic congestion looks to calculate the real-life experience of drivers, and how this will vary over a range of journeys, gathering more data than just considering average speed, which is the conventional way.

Unlike speed, it continued, this measure enables comparisons between different areas, helping to identify those places likely to be suffering congestion the most at those crucial peak times.

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Image credit | iStock