Public positive about local infrastructure decisions, but mixed views on which decisions should be devolved

The majority of people in England think devolution measures such as a new fund to support skills growth, more local control of flood management and the introduction of integrated ticketing systems would have a positive impact on their local area, according to a survey commissioned by ICE.

  • Only 26% think devolution will make local services less efficient
  • 78% say local people should vote to decide whether powers are devolved to their area
  • Bus franchising top of public wish list for local control
  • 71% think decisions on new motorways should be made by central government

The ComRes survey of over 1700 English adults – which marks the start of ICE's State of the Nation: Devolution campaign - showed public attitudes to local decision making on infrastructure are largely positive. Only 26% think devolution will make local services less efficient and only 33% want it to slow down across England.

When asked how devolution measures would impact on their local area, 64% felt a new fund to boost skills growth would have a positive impact and 61% said greater local control of flood management would have a positive impact. 52% said devolution could help to boost local economies and 63% believe devolution plans resulting in a single travel ticket to be used on all transport would have a positive effect on their local area.

The survey results did however suggest the public were less positive about devolution plans being implemented without their views being sought, with 78% saying local people should vote to decide whether powers are devolved to their area.

When asked which infrastructure decisions should be controlled locally, bus franchising came out top with 76% wanting local control, compared to 14% who think central government should decide.

46% said decisions on new renewable energy facilities should be made locally, with 42% wanting central control. 41% said local government should make decisions on fracking, with the same proportion (41%) believing these decisions sit with central government. 35% want local control over new train lines or stations, with 55% wanting decisions to be made centrally. 23% said local government should decide on new power stations, with 66% wanting central control. And only 19% of the public think decisions on new motorways should be made locally, with 71% saying central government should take the reins.

Jonathan Spruce, from ICE's State of the Nation: Devolution steering group, said: "The Government's 'devolution revolution' is speeding up and the commitment is positive –locating powers closer to those it affects carries the potential for greater focus, investment and better decision making.

"However to get the most out of devolution, we need a better understanding on how and where it can work most effectively. We also need a better feel of the needs, ambition and capacity of each area to establish frameworks and assume the greater responsibility.

"Our State of the Nation: Devolution campaign, which will culminate in a major report to policy makers this June, will examine this drawing on wide pool of expertise. The public have a huge stake in the devolution debate and while this survey suggests a positive attitude in principle, there is clearly a desire to be more involved in the process and some strong views are emerging on which decisions should be devolved and the likely benefits. These views will be explored and incorporated into our evidence base."

END

ComRes surveyed 1724 English adults online between 5-7th February 2016. Data are weighted to be representative of all adults in England aged 18+.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables (also embargoed until 26 Feb 00:01hrs) are available at www.comres.co.uk/polls/institution-of-civil-engineers-state-of-the-nation-devolution-survey/

Notes to editors

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a leading source of professional expertise in transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy. Established in 1818, it has 88,000 members, 25% of whom are based overseas. ICE’s vision is to place civil engineering at the heart of society, delivering sustainable development through knowledge, skills and professional expertise. ICE has long worked with the government of the day to help it to achieve its objectives, and has worked with industry to ensure that construction and civil engineering remain major contributors to the UK economy.

Top