SEDEEPT provides an informal network for directors of principal authorities in the South East. The group meets approximately every two months and often invites senior Whitehall officials to attend for specific agenda items. Fourteen authorities, including seven county councils, plus unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, West Berkshire, Portsmouth and Southampton attend on a regular basis. Most discussions are held under the Chatham House Rule and there are no formal minutes taken.
Over the last two years SEDEEPT’s main focus has been on budget challenges, particularly in terms of delivering highway, transport and environment services, and how best to respond to the changing landscape in relation to the local growth and devolution agenda. The group provides advice to SEEC (South East of England Council’s Group) and has contributed to the Mind the Gap report and the subsequent Missing Links report to the Government, which highlights key strategic transport priorities for the region. SEDEEPT is also keen to work with the area’s LEPs, and is currently planning a joint meeting with the GTV7 LEP group later this summer to assess how the findings of the recent Transport Study commissioned by the LEPs and produced by WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff can be taken forward.
In terms of SEDEEPT’s future focus, it intends to consider Passenger Transport at its meeting in May, including budgetary pressures in relation to bus subsidies and concessionary fares, as well as the likely implications of the forthcoming Buses Bill. The group is also keen to discuss better integration of transport plans with Network Rail and Highways England; and will discuss planning and infrastructure funding later in the year, once the outcome of the CIL review is known.