Worthing Sustainable Transport Package

Executive Summary

WSCC and the Coast to Capital LEP are spending up to £4.8 million of "sustainable transport" money on repaving Montague Street. The project has no transport benefits, and, if successful, will result in 4,000+ more shopping trips to Worthing every day of the year.

The arguments against the investment of this money are:

  • The project explicitly has no transport benefits at all, even though its title, the "Worthing Sustainable Transport Package, Stage 1", strongly suggests that it would.
  • The project, if successful, will result in over 8,000 more trips to and from Worthing every day. This can only have a big negative impact on transport in the town.
  • The money being invested is specifically allocated to "sustainable transport", yet is being spent on a project with no transport benefits.
  • The money is allocated by the LEP's "Local Transport Body", yet is being spent on a project with no transport benefits.
  • Worthing has quite serious transport congestion problems, and an investment in sustainable transport in the town is desperately needed.

The arguments for the investment are:

  • The project has a good benefit/cost ratio, based on a large projected increase in the turnover of Worthing shops.
  • The project is a "transport project" according to consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff. They don't say why they think this.
  • The project is a "sustainable transport" project according to the LEP because it improves the environment for pedestrians.
  • The project doesn't actually have to be a transport project at all, it just has to provide sustainable economic growth.
  • Because the project total is £4.8 million, it doesn't have to conform to requirements of transport projects (which only apply to projects of £5 million and above).

Here is the "Benefit Cost Table", showing "na" for all transport benefits, and millions of benefits from increased shop turnover and rents:

Does that look like a "sustainable transport" scheme?


West Sussex County Council have applied to the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership for a significant amount of funding: for something called the "Worthing Sustainable Transport Package". You can read all about it in the attached PDF documents.

This would be excellent news if this package contained some sustainable transport measures. In fact, it contains nothing for sustainable transport at all:

The planned activities for the whole scheme include:

  • reinstating the kerbs and raising the short section of carriageway on Montague Street between Surrey Street and west buildings;
  • reconstructing the existing footways, and the concrete carriageway;
  • replacing the existing drainage channels with a system of gullies;
  • planting trees or installing surface mounted tree planters;
  • installing new street furniture;
  • removing the rotunda in Montague Place and installing two contemporary shelters;
  • reducing vehicle access in Montague Place and one way system for delivery vehicles. To compensate for the reduced vehicle access and reduced parking, new disabled parking will be placed on the sea front; and Liverpool Gardens
  • relocating the new street lighting that is currently being carried out as part of a separate contract

while the first phase, alone costing £1.2 million (just the green part on the map), involves:

  • Removing the Rotunda at Montague Place
  • Installation of two contemporary shelters for events/stalls
  • Central paving feature integrating way finding lettering
  • Stone cubes providing informal seating and a barrier for vehicles
  • Raised table to improve pedestrian link to Liverpool Gardens
  • Relocate disabled bays

One outcome of the scheme will be to increase the number of people visiting Montague Street to shop by 29%, or 1.6 million people per year. That's an average of 4,383 more people visiting Montague Street every day! Will they be cycling, or taking the bus or train, or will they choose to drive into town? How will this impact local transport in Worthing?

Worse still, they're spending £120,000 of Section 106 developer contributions, which are allocated for sustainable transport, on this scheme. Money that could otherwise be spent on actual sustainable transport, such as fixing the western end of the Prom for people on bicycles to be able to use it as a transport route, or perhaps helping local bus services.

So the question is: can you find anything in the "Worthing Sustainable Transport Package" bid document that will enhance or increase sustainable transport in Worthing?

See more at: http://www.coast2capital.org.uk/strategic-objectives/infrastructure-plac...

What do you think?

Do you think that this scheme is a valid use for millions of pounds of "sustainable transport" funding?

Can you perhaps think of other sustainable transport schemes in Worthing that would benefit from a few million pounds of investment?

The West Sussex Cycle Forum responded to the consultation by comments to Ron Crank, Chief Executive Coast to Capital LEP, ron.crank@coast2capital.org.uk on 19 March 2015. The Forum's comments, for all the schemes in West Sussex, are attached.

The consultants advising the LEP are adamant that the "Worthing Sustainable Transport Scheme" (aka repaving Montague Street) is a sustainable transport scheme because:

  1. The scheme makes the environment more pleasant for pedestrians
  2. Pedestrians walk
  3. Walking is a form of sustainable transport

The fact the the documents for the scheme explicitly state that the scheme has zero transport benefits in the benefit/cost analysis, is apparently not relevant.

The LEP consultants don't think that the scheme's aim to generate 8,766 more trips to and from Montague Street will have any negative impact on Worthing's transport situation, saying that almost all these trips will be local people walking to the shops. So they expect some new paving to persuade local people to go shopping 29% more, while not attracting anyone who doesn't live within walking distance of Montague Street.

There is clearly something else going on here, that isn't yet clear.

Update: 19 June 2015

I have made an official complaint to the LEP that they are spending Sustainable Transport funds on this scheme. Their Chief Executive Ron Crank has replied (see letter attached below), trying to justify the investment of millions of transport money by saying that the scheme has some small benefits for pedestrians and that the LEP can invest in non-transport projects if they like. Both these statements are very-broadly true, but they completely miss the point of my complaint.

Following the LEP's official complaints procedure I have asked them to proceed with my complaint to Stage Two, where the LEP board consider my complaint.

I've made reference to the LEP's Local Tansport Board Assurance Framework document, that clearly states that schemes that the board awards funding to must:

  • provide "good value for money, as defined by the Department for Transport" [section 47, page 8]
  • meet "the requirements for the DfT's Transport Business Case guidance" [section 54, page 9]

These two explicit requirements must mean that the Worthing Sustainable Transport Package is ineligible for this particular source of funding.

Update: 22 June 2015

The LEP's Chief Executive, Ron Crank, has refused to progress my complaint to Stage Two of the LEP's complaints process. So I have to assume that I have exhausted the LEP complaint.

In their reply to my questions, the LEP refutes the need to show that their investment of sustainable transport money has to provide "good value for money, as defined by the Department for Transport". They say that re-paving Montague street is a "transport" project because it impoves facilities for pedestrians and reduces trip hazards - an interestingly broad use of the word "transport"! But they also say that these supposed transport benefits are too small to be worth quantifying: the economic justification for the project (massively increased turnover in the shops) is enough for the project to be approved. They also pass the buck to their consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff, who agreed that the scheme should be funded with sustainable transport money.

The project also costs £4.8 million, conveniently under the £5 million limit where they would have to provide details of the transport benefits this investment of transport money would deliver. The project is also split into six phases, meaning each individual phase is well under the limit. In this way they can slowly spend sustainable transport money on a project with no transport benefits, without needing to justify the investment.

Update: 13 August 2015

Since the LEP is standing by its decision to award millions of sustainable transport money to a scheme that has zero transport benefits, I took my complaint to WSCC who are the "responsible authority" looking after the LEP's money and making sure it is spent according to the rules.

The WSCC argument is basically that the LEP have not broken any rules, and that they are allowed to spend sustainable transport money on anything that has "sustainable" in the title of the project. The fact that this money is apparently allocated for "sustainable transport" and that the awarding of the money is by the "Local Transport Body" of the LEP does not mean that the investment actually has to have anything to do with transport at all.

No wonder Worthing suffers so much from motor traffic congestion!

Update: 19 October 2015

Can the LEP spend its Growth Fund money on anything it likes, even "sustainable transport" money?

This money is explicitly separate from the main Growth Fund pot, as it is awarded by the Local Transport Body, and not the LEP. According to the Local Transport Body Letter of Delegation, The Local Transport Body was set up by the LEP specifically to allocate transport money:

This letter invites the Local Transport Body to assume responsibility for decisions on the allocation of funds to local transport schemes.


The Local Transport Body has agreed an Assurance Framework with the Department for Transport and this should form the basis for the LTB’s project appraisal and decision making in relation to the funding which has been made available and which is being delegated to the LTB.

Not only is the Local Transport Body responsible for awarding money to transport-specific projects, it has agreed an Assurance Framework with the Department for Transport.

The first line of description of the LTB on the Coast to Capital website says:

Coast to Capital’s Local Transport Body manages the process of funding transport improvements.

So why is the Local Transport Body funding a project that explicitly has no benefits for transport? Surely this must be breaking their assurance agreement with the Department for Transport?