Agenda item

Transforming Cities Fund Update

To consider this report relating to an update on the Transforming Cities Fund Programme.


The Committee considered a report from the Interim Director of Integrated Transport, Shane Fitzpatrick relating to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) update who highlighted the following: -


·         The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) has secured £172.5 million in capital grant from the TCF for local transport investment over a 5-year period.

·         The aim of the fund is to support programmes of interlinking interventions which will transform sustainable transport connectivity in key commuter routes in major city regions.

·          Three priority themes were agreed to set parameters for the funding:-

o   Theme 1: Improving and expanding the public transport network to meet new areas of demand;

o   Theme 2: Improving the appeal of public transport, and particularly bus, against private transport; and

o   Theme 3: Intervening for health and wellbeing.

·         Shane Fitzpatrick has been appointed to lead on the delivery of the overall TCF programme and reports to the TCF Board;

·         Funding has been brought forward for three schemes identified as follows:

o   Funding for the launch of a smart ticketing portal and new ticketing media as a successor to “Walrus”;

o   Support for a new, low carbon and low emission vessel(s) to replace the ageing Mersey Ferries; and

o   Match funding in respect of the priority European Regional Development Fund Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) programme of green travel routes for cyclists.

·         17 interventions have been identified with 8 related to Theme 1, Theme 2 has 4 interventions and Theme 3 has 5 schemes identified.

·         Programme delivery and monitoring is continued to be developed and is challenging with a significant challenge to rail which makes up about two thirds of the programme expenditure.


Councillor Foulkes spoke about accessibility at stations and moving to 100% accessibility at platform levels despite it currently being at 62%. He enquired about how the city region could encourage the other half of the money to match the other fund to come forward from Government. He also spoke about Wirral Waters and being able to join schemes through the themes and transform it into other blocks of funding.


Shane Fitzpatrick informed the Committee that in relation to the “Access for all” schemes it has a £15m budget that will improve 5 stations at £3m each which is a long term programme. There is also a mid-tier programme which has been introduced for smaller scale improvements are being made year on year. In relation to Wirral Waters there are two corridors, Phase 1 and 2, but that investment is also linked to three other transport improvement schemes split into 3 phases for the wider connectivity. It is already made up from different blocks of work including public realm, walking and cycling etc.


Councillor Stockton commented about the timeframe for the disbursement of the funding up to 31 March 2023 and enquired about the details of the timeframe for development of the scheme.


Shane Fitzpatrick had informed the TCF Board that work was underway to establish the base programme and pull together the planned packages, cashflow and expenditure, but further updates would be provided as that programme work emerges.


Councillor Mooney commented that the Headbolt Lane, Kirkby was really welcomed by the residents and would be a “game-changer” for the area and thanked everyone involved for making it happen.


Shane Fitzpatrick commented that it is a challenging project and work was underway with some interventions including rolling stock and battery technology which may benefit the building of a mile of track within the business case going forward to which potentially could reduce the costs at Headbolt Lane.


Councillor Williams enquired about the accessibility to stations in Wirral South, and could criteria be provided relating to TCF.


Shane Fitzpatrick informed the Committee that more information would be provided relating to the guidance and criteria used for TCF. He also spoke about it was important to note that in relation to Access for All, there were in inputs from Network Rail, Merseytravel and the Train Operator companies in a joint contribution to achieve the programme.


The Chair commented that it should be noted that the City Region was investing more than £500m in the new trains and infrastructure and the challenge back to Government would be to find another £100m, then the whole network could be completely step-free in the City Region.


Councillor Cleary sought clarification on Wirral Waters relating to the significant planning approval starting in January 2020 and the Eureka project as well and how it would be transported in the future relating to the street car proposal.


Shane Fitzpatrick stated that the early stages of feasibility work was underway together with the work being done with the Eureka project to replace Spaceport. The Seacombe landing stage and bridges would need to be renewed and all parties were represented in an existing steering group. He also spoke about the connectivity and the discussions with Peel for better transport options to be identified in the medium and long term in regard to transport connectivity to rail infrastructure. This incorporated investment currently ongoing with regard to the new rolling stock alongside a short to medium term bus strategy for Wirral Waters which was previously developed and approved for development.


The Chair commented that the Wirral Water development would be huge for the City Region and how it would be linked to the rest of the city region would be important.


Councillor McKinley enquired about the cycle network that runs through Sefton and the Health and Wellbeing agenda relating to clearing the bridle ways that could be used for the disabled.


Shane Fitzpatrick commented that he would need to look into it and would provide a response to the Committee.


RESOLVED that the Transport Committee notes the contents of the report and requests further information as appropriate.

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