SETTING up a major strategic transport body is the headline grabber in what the Lib Dem leader is calling their "best manifesto ever".

Transport for Colchester is one of the party’s ambitious plans to create a multi-agency solution to the town’s infrastructure and congestion woes.

Unveiled in its manifesto, Transport for Colchester will combine the expertise of the Department for Transport, Essex County Council, Highways England, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, bus companies and user groups.

The plan is to use this coordinated voice to secure Government funding for integrated transport initiatives and step away from small-scale road schemes.

Group leader, Martin Goss, says it wants to emulate Transport for London but on a local scale.

He said: "We want to bring everything together, get extra funding into Colchester and take over the infrastructure from Essex County Council.

"Rather than a unitary authority, really transport and roads are what people have most concerns about, so we would create a new organisation.

"This is one of the things we're most proud of because it's a different way to address the future growth of Colchester, and what really differentiates us from the other parties.

"It's ambitious but you have to be ambitious to deal with the issues people really care about."

The approach when it comes to the road and travel networks is to be more strategic in nature but also "holistic".

Councillors want to see better cycling infrastructure, cheaper, greener and more efficient buses running on more routes which will directly impact the environment, traffic flow and the business economy.

Under the heading ‘Creating opportunity for all’, the Lib Dems promise to support the introduction of a Business Improvement District in the town centre and high on the agenda is ultra-ready high-speed broadband, particularly in rural areas.

An interesting addition to the manifesto is creating ways for emerging businesses to pay their rates through equity shares and service provision to form new links between business, the council and the community.

Alongside that the party want a tighter grip on council spending by having localism audits and to reclaim powers back from Essex County Council.

He said: "At the moment business rates are set and managed centrally but we believe in that entirely changing.

"We want to work with businesses to get localised support, and in a more considerate manner."

There will be no "big brother development" such as Essex County Council's £750,000 shared cycle path at Mile End Road, Martin comments.

"That's not a way of winning hearts and minds," the councillor said, "and a prime example of how not to do a project.

"The question to ask is what are the big things in your community that need fixing and we'll do it."

A common thread tying this manifesto together is innovation.

Housing under the Liberal Democrats will be more sustainable and forward-thinking in design.

They would be equipped for charging electric vehicles and within new developments there would be Housing Innovation Areas to showcase alternative building styles.

He said: "Our manifesto definitely incorporates some fresh thinking and it's been great to have different people from across Colchester involved in it.

"We do think this is our best manifesto ever with very long-term and deliverable goals."

Read the manifesto by clicking here.