The South East Board provides an informal network for directors of principal authorities in the region. 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 and the 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 Rules and there are no formal minutes taken.
Over the last two years the Board'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. The Board is also keen to work with the area’s LEPs.
In terms of 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.