To consider the following transport and infrastructure related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on: 9 September 2020
- Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme
The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.
Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Infrastructure.
The Cabinet report is attached to this agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
The Board noted the significant number of public statements submitted in respect of this item. The Chairman informed the Board that he had agreed to a number of requests to read the statements at the meeting although only one speaker was now able to join the meeting. The Board accordingly heard the statement from Mr. J Challinor presented in his capacity as Chair of the Parkstone Bay Association. All the submitted statements had been made available to the Board ahead of the meeting.
The Portfolio Holder, Councillor Hadley, presented the report for scrutiny by the Board prior to its consideration by Cabinet on 9 September 2020. He described the context in which progress had been made under tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme and referred to a schedule of schemes in tranche 2. He explained that the aim of the programme was to introduce, at pace, and in response to the pandemic, temporary and experimental active travel measures which also had the potential to become permanent subject to successful trials.
The Board recognised the beneficial work already undertaken as the BCP Council responded to changing travel patterns and the Board recorded its appreciation of the work already undertaken by Council Officers within the Growth and Infrastructure teams particularly in respect of the success that had been achieved in taking full advantage, within very short timescales, of funding available from Central Government.
Comments from the Overview and Scrutiny Board focussed upon the nature of the Central Government Programme and the view of the Board was that communications about the programme, and particularly about the initial temporary nature of specific schemes, could have been improved.
Members were of the view that local ward councillors should have been consulted earlier on in the process of identifying specific local elements of the programme. This would have created the capacity for ward members to consult openly with local residents; to take a balanced approach within the community and to gather information from residents and from interested groups.
Board members highlighted examples where there had been lack of consultation with local services, such as schools and with local organisations that would have been affected, which had led to insufficient assessment of individual schemes in terms of their impact on particular localities. Failure to communicate in a manner that was accessible to local people was also considered to have contributed to the receipt of considerable negative feedback.
Members were also concerned that information they had received had been provided to them on a privileged basis which they were unable to release publicly. This was considered to be despite the fact that there was time available within the overall programme timetable for a much wider and comprehensive consultation. Members therefore described how they looked forward to increased levels of information going forward supported by improved communications with the public and more open dialogue with ward members. It was considered that this could facilitate achievement of higher quality schemes within the spirit of the overall programme.
The Portfolio Holder responded to the views and concerns of the Overview and Scrutiny Board explaining that the intention of the Department of Transport had been that consultation with the public should have been at a later date but he did underline his commitment to much wider consultation going forward into the second tranche of the programme.
That the recommendation to Cabinet be that Cabinet
1. note the progress to date regarding the delivery of the Tranche 1 Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme and
2. subject to a successful application for Emergency Active Travel Fund Tranche 2 approves the delegation of decision making regarding the progression of the indicative Tranche 2 Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme to the Director of Growth & Infrastructure in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Infrastructure and following consultation between the Portfolio Holder and ward councillors and adjacent ward councillors at the earliest possible opportunity
Voting: For – 12; Against – 1; Abstain – 2.
Councillor Farquhar requested that his vote for the resolution be recorded in the Minutes.
It was also
The Overview and Scrutiny Board expresses its disappointment at the lack of engagement with ward councillors who were prevented from onward consultation with their communities. It believes that this democratic deficit significantly increased the concern and confusion which inevitably followed among the public.
Voting: For – 9; Against – 4; Abstain – 2.
Councillor Farquhar requested that his vote against the resolution be recorded in the Minutes.