The thirty-year strategy published this summer sets out how, with the right investment, we can grow the South East's economy, boost jobs and opportunity, improve quality of life and hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. It was submitted to Government in July alongside a proposal for Transport for the South East to become a statutory sub-national transport body with devolved powers over road and rail investment priorities.
In a letter to the chair of Transport for the South East, transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed his support for sub-national transport bodies and for the work of Transport for the South East in particular - but said that he does not want to take forward statutory status or to transfer powers at this time.
The news follows confirmation from transport minister, Baroness Vere, that she has instructed Department for Transport officials to have regard to Transport for the South East's transport strategy when developing government policy.
Transport for the South East's focus now is working with partners to develop a strategic investment plan for the region. Due for publication in 2022, it will set out the specific schemes, policies and initiatives needed to make the transport strategy a reality and will be delivered with partners including Network Rail and Highways England.
Transport for the South East's board, which brings together political and business leaders from across the region, remain clear that getting the right tools from Government will be critical to delivering that investment.
Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: "Transport for the South East has emerged as a powerful and effective partnership for our region. We have shown what can be achieved through a focus on collaboration and consensus, with the result that we now have a transport strategy for our region which carries real weight and influence and will shape government decisions about where, when and how to invest in our region.
"Now may not be the time for government to give us the tools we will need to deliver our transport strategy. But I'm confident that our case will only continue to strengthen as we develop our strategic investment plan and set out our priorities for the future."
Transport for the South East is a partnership bringing together local government and business leaders from across the region to speak with one voice on the region's investment priorities.
It was formed in 2017. Its principal decision-making forum is the Partnership Board, which brings together representatives of 16 local transport authorities, five local enterprise partnerships, 46 district and borough authorities, protected landscapes and Network Rail, Highways England and Transport for London.