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16 October 2014
More powers needed for transport policy

More powers needed for transport policy

Tax relief for public transport users is among radical proposals further devolution for Scotland could deliver, a campaign group has claimed.
As the Smith Commission considers a new constitutional settlement, in the wake of last months’ independence referendum, Transform Scotland has put forward its views on what powers should be devolved from Westminster.
But it has used the report to outline what changes should be happening within Scotland to achieve a more environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive transport system.
The group avoided taking a position on Scottish independence in the run-up to 18 September as it said powers held by either UK or Scottish governments are not directed in the right way.
Although transport is largely devolved there are still areas of transport policy reserved to Westminster.
It calls for controls over signage and speed limits, bus route registration and operator powers and railway legislative framework to be devolved.
But it also says that taxation – an area where more powers are likely to be devolved to Scotland – could allow more radical plans to encourage people onto public transport.
It suggests tax relief on season tickets – to equal the situation in place for workplace parking and adds: “A truly radical Scottish Government could even legislate to give tax relief on public transport and abolish that on workplace parking.”
Board member and report author Calum McCallum said: “There are clearly some powers which could usefully be transferred to Scotland that could lead to progress towards a sustainable transport system. 
“This could include rationalising powers on road traffic regulations and signage, transferring the legal framework for railways, or providing the ability to give tax relief for public transport use.”
However the report sets out a number of areas which are already controlled in Scotland, where changes should also occur.
The proposals include more emphasis on local and regional projects; a duty for councils and regional transport partnerships to create sustainable networks unified Scotland wide smart ticket scheme and low emission zones and traffic reduction across the country.
Meanwhile there have been calls for greater UK Government support of rail freight. Freight on Rail has called for the sector’s contribution to the economy to be recognised in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 3 December.
Its submission to the Treasury includes a national networks planning policy “which recognises that strategic rail freight interchanges are an intrinsic element of transferring more freight off our congested road network onto rail to improve freight distribution productivity, efficiency and sustainability.”

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