TRANSPORT NEWS: Probe raises alarm over transport planner crisis

An exodus of transport planners from local government threatens to plunge the profession into a long-term crisis, according to County Surveyors Society (CSS) findings published last week.

CSS survey data collected by the unit for transport and society (UTS) at the University of the West of England reveals that difficulty in recruiting younger staff is leading to overworked and ageing council workforces.

The fact that many middle-aged staff have family commitments that make them less mobile is a further hindrance, the survey adds.

Around one in 12 council posts associated with transport delivery is vacant. The shortage is blamed on a rise in the complexity and demands of transport delivery. In some cases, transport planners are resorting to "silo working" - focusing on individual projects rather than the wider picture.

UTS director and project manager Glenn Lyons said: "Councils often find serious problems in implementing local transport plan programmes because they involve a lot more small works projects as well as schemes like travel plans. Authorities need more staff and a wider range of skills."

CSS strategic planning and regeneration committee chairman John Deegan said: "The brightest and best graduates are being seduced by the perceived glamour and better rewards offered by other professions."

The report recommends a local authority forum to establish best practice in recruitment, development and retention.

Short-Term Skills Shortages in Delivering Local Transport Responsibilities can be viewed via www.planning.haynet.com.


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