Manchester suffers the worst traffic congestion of any English location outside London, according to the National Infrastructure Commission, with Liverpool close behind in second.
While cities dominate the upper end of the congestion league table, the highest location otherwise is Accrington & Rossendale, at 26th.
Chairman Sir John Armitt said that the fact cities hold the first 25 places of the whole league table demonstrates the clear need for major new investment in the UK’s urban transport networks.
To achieve this, the first National Infrastructure Assessment includes recommendations that greater powers be devolved to metro mayors and local leaders to improve urban transport, backed by an additional £43bn funding in the years to 2040.
Armitt has written to leaders of more than 50 cities offering support from the Commission – set up as an independent body to work with the Treasury – which plans to work directly with a small number of cities.
He 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.
“In our National Infrastructure Assessment – the first of its kind for the UK – we’ve called for powers and increased funding to be devolved from Whitehall to local leaders. This will give the people who know their cities best the tools they need to improve urban transport and support the delivery of new employment opportunities and homes.”
The NIC ranking comes at the same time as Manchester was claimed to be suffering from the worst air quality in western Europe, with the Liberal Democrats calling on the Labour administration to take action.
A report by thinktank IPPR in June had warned that poor air quality, principally caused by transport emissions, is affecting health in the city, with central and north Manchester having the country’s highest rate of emergency hospital admissions for asthma. In response, Transport for Greater Manchester is developing its Clean Air Plan, a finalised version of which is expected before year end.
The NIC’s congestion study compared the ease with which people could drive from one part of an area to another at peak and off-peak times differing, it said, from most studies in that it uses comparisons of these journey times rather than average speeds to calculate congestion.
Those areas where the experience of travellers at different times varied considerably were ranked the most congested, while those where the experience was broadly similar ranked the least congested.
Based on this, the top 10 most congested parts of England outside London are:
- Portsmouth and Southampton
The National Infrastructure Assessment looks ahead to 2050 and offers recommendations for infrastructure improvements across a range of sectors, including transport, energy, digital technology, waste, floods management and water supplies.
A key recommendation from the assessment is that by 2021, metro mayors and local leaders should develop and implement long-term and integrated strategies for improving local transport and employment opportunities, and the delivery of new homes to support the growth of their cities.
This would also require Ministers to devolve powers to local leaders to deliver them – including giving metro mayors the ability to make decisions on major housing development sites, and devolved transport budgets for all cities, which would mean regular, direct funding allocations from Government, guaranteed through new legislation.
On top of this, the National Infrastructure Assessment recommends that the Government agree significant new funding for major infrastructure programmes in the fastest-growing and most congested cities.