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Local Government

In order to understand what obstacles have been in the way of the railway being re-instated, it is useful to understand how local government is organised, and who is in control of what.

Local Councils

At the lowest level are the local town and parish councils e.g. Portishead Town council, Easton-in-Gordano Parish council and Portbury Parish council.

Unitary Authorities

At the next level are District Council or Unitary Authorities. The railway runs through areas covered by two Unitary Authorities - North Somerset Council and Bristol City Council. The Severn Beach branch line, which will be connected, also runs partly through the South Gloucestershire Council area.

Local Enterprise Partnerships

These are partnerships between local authorities and businesses. They decide what the priorities should be for investment in roads, buildings and facilities in the area. The West of England LEP includes the four local councils (i.e. Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council and Bath & North East Somerset). This has replaced the West of England Partnership, formed from these same councils.

South West Councils

The statutory responsibilities of the South West Regional Assembly have now been transferred to the Strategic Leaders Board, part of South West Councils. South West Leaders brings together 20 local authority Leaders from the county and unitary councils including district Leader representation.

Defunct bodies:

South West Regional Assembly

This unelected government quango was wound up in Dec 2008. It was the designated Regional Planning Body and produced a document called the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which created a blueprint for the way in which the region grows during the next 20 years. Though it covered transport issues, there was only one line on heavy rail! It recommended building 92,500 houses, much in green belt land. The statutory responsibilities of the South West Regional Assembly have now been transferred to the South West Councils (see above).

Government Office for the South West

GOSW represented Central Government in the South West region, and thus dictated overall policy. The Coalition Government abolished the Government Offices.

See also Transport Plans page.