By Max Clarke

Nine local transport schemes were given the go-ahead today after £45.5m (14%) of savings were identified, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced.

The savings mean additional schemes across the country can now be brought forward for consideration.

A further 23 schemes have today been given the green light to bid for funding from a pot worth around £630m. These schemes have provisionally identified overall savings of 42%.

“The Government is committed to delivering transport projects which improve journeys while also helping economic growth. Commented Mr. Hammond.

"Following the spending review we challenged local authorities to look again at the cost of proposed schemes to ensure we get maximum value for every pound we spend. The councils being awarded funding today have met that challenge by achieving a saving to the taxpayer of £45.5m on the original proposed costs.

“That means more money is now available for other schemes across the country and I would urge other councils to follow this lead as they bid for funding. This will allow us to fund as many schemes as possible, delivering improvements to roads and public transport across the country.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced in October that it was seeking best and final offers from local authorities for 10 schemes which it was prepared in principle to support. Following this challenge the local authorities found overall cost savings of 14%. The schemes are worth over £365m with an overall DfT contribution of £275m. They are:

* Leeds Station Southern Access: Improving pedestrian access to Leeds station (£12.4m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £14.4m)
* Midland Metro Extension: Extending Midland Metro tram line through Birmingham City Centre (£75.4m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £129.2m)
* Mansfield Public Transport Interchange: A new bus station and associated transport improvements in Mansfield (£7.2m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £8.9m)
* Thornton to Switch Island Link: A new single carriageway road which will take traffic away from communities in Sefton (£14.5m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £18.6m)
* Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century: An integrated package of sustainable transport improvements in Ipswich (£18.3m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £21.5m)
* East of Exeter: Improvements to M5 J29, east of Exeter, providing access to new housing and employment areas (£10.4m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £14.4m)
* Heysham to M6 Link Road: A bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting Heysham to the M6 (£110.9m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £123.3m)
* A57 M1 to Todwick Crossroads: Improvements on the A57 east of M1 J31, near Todwick (£11.8m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £14.7m)
* Taunton Northern Inner Distributor Road: A new road in Taunton to provide additional cross town capacity and access to areas of brownfield land (£15.2m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £21.7m)

The Department announced in October that all other local transport schemes for which it had received funding bids had been assigned to one of two ‘pools’.

Schemes in the development pool were told that they would be invited to bid for funding later in 2011. Schemes in the ‘pre-qualification pool’ have been subject to further assessment to determine which of them can enter the development pool.

This work has now been completed and the Department today announced that 23 schemes will move into the development pool after the local authorities indicated an overall 42% saving can be found. Nine schemes from the pre-qualification group and two schemes which have been withdrawn by the promoter have not been moved to the development pool and are no longer being considered for funding in this spending review period.

The Department hopes to fund the majority of the schemes now in the development pool subject to their business cases being of an acceptable standard. However, the total likely funding request to DfT is nearly £950m, so the process remains competitive and local authorities will need to look for further savings to stand a good chance of funding.

Decisions on these schemes will be made by the end of 2011.

The schemes which have moved to the development pool are:

* A43 Corby Link Road
* Luton Town Centre Transport Scheme
* Darlaston Strategic Development Area Access Scheme (Walsall)
* Camborne-Pool-Redruth Transport Package
* A164 Humber Bridge to Beverley Improvement
* Northern Road Bridge (Portsmouth)
* Kingskerswell By-pass (South Devon Link Road)
* South Bristol Link Phases 1&2
* Worcester Integrated Transport Strategy
* A452 Chester Road Access Improvements
* Lincoln Eastern Bypass
* South Yorkshire Bus Rapid Transit (Northern Route)
* Morpeth Northern Bypass
* Tipner Interchange (Portsmouth)
* Coventry-Nuneaton Rail Upgrade
* South Essex Rapid Transit
* Bus Rapid Transit North Fringe to Hengrove (Bristol)
* Croxley Rail Link (Hertfordshire)
* Elmbridge Transport (Gloucestershire)
* A4184 Evesham (Abbey) Bridge Maintenance (Worcestershire)
* A45 Westbound Bridge Maintenance (Solihull)
* London Road Bridge Maintenance (Derby)
* Leeds Inner Ring Road Maintenance

The nine pre-qualification pool schemes which will not be funded in this spending review period are:

* A509 Isham Bypass (Northamptonshire)
* Watford Junction Interchange
* Castleford Town Centre Integrated Transport Scheme
* A24 Ashington to Southwater Improvement (West Sussex)
* A61 Penistone Road Smart Route (Sheffield)
* Stafford Western Access Improvements
* Tyne & Wear Bus Corridor Improvement - Phase 1
* A338 Bournemouth Spur Road Maintenance
* A38(M) Tame Viaduct Maintenance (Birmingham)

The two schemes withdrawn by the promoter are;

* Northern Gateway (North Tyneside)
* Sunderland Central Route