Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Sophie Benfield
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2023 were approved as a correct record.
Declarations of interest
Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
Recommendation for co-opted membership of the Environment Scrutiny Committee
Members considered the Annual Climate Change Strategy Review at their meeting on 22 November 2022, which included a presentation from Gloucestershire’s Youth Climate Group.
Following discussions, a recommendation was put forward that the Scrutiny Committee consider co-opted membership from the Youth Climate Group.
The suggested terms of this appointment are as follows:
· Co-opted and non-voting membership
· Up to 2 seats be made available for members of the Youth Climate Group to be appointed to. These appointments are for the duration of the term stated and do not carry the option to substitute should the member appointed be unable to attend.
· To be trialled for a term of 6 months and then reviewed.
· If after the 6 month review the Committee wish to make this membership permanent, a report will need to be made to the Constitution Committee for ratification. The trial can continue during this process.
The Committee to decide how to proceed, considering the above terms.
Members approved the wording included in the agenda. Officers would now liaise with the Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group on the next steps.
Report to follow
5.1 The Chair invited Kathryn Haworth, Assistant Director of Highways and Infrastructure, and Jenny Goodson, Highways Operations Manager, to present this item. The report was taken as read and the following points were highlighted:
· This report was to follow on from the January Environment Scrutiny where an interim verbal update was provided on the winter 2022/23 adverse weather event.
· There was extensive national guidance followed by GCC when creating and implementing the Adverse Weather Plan, particularly around route hierarchy, decisions and treatments carried out.
· During the winter period of 2022/23 the crews carried out 234 grit runs altogether, which compared to an average profile of 156. This was one indicator that clearly showed the level of adverse weather experienced during that time, particularly in December and January.
· Officers were keen to highlight the hard work and dedication of the crews during winter months, as well as the community support through parish and town councils, community organisations and individual residents.
· After every winter period, there was a review of the Plan to see where improvements or changes could be made. The report highlighted particular issues had been identified in relation to gritting cycle ways and maintain safe access to schools. Officers welcomed comments from members to feed into this year’s review.
5.2 The Committee paid their thanks and appreciation to the crews and colleagues in Highways who worked tirelessly throughout the year, but particularly during the winter months to keep our road network safe and accessible.
5.3 It was noted that, where areas of the county had parish councils, officers at GCC would be in regular contact regarding creating their own ‘Winter Action Plans’ and the distribution, and maintenance of grit bins, but acknowledged this was more difficult in areas of the county that did not have parish councils. Officers were open to ideas from members about how best to build external resilience in these areas. GCC encouraged communities to, as far as possible, plan for their winter response in advance, which would avoid, for example, requests for salt mid-winter being delayed due to crews being focused on the emergency response.
5.4 The existence of a Plan would also help with the coordination of volunteers such as local snow plough operators and snow wardens, outlining clear roles and responsibilities. There was a request for officers to explore better communication channels with communities during emergency response to prevent. An example was given of a clearance delay in December to allow snow plough operators to go out on the network.
5.5 A member asked whether it would be possible for key points of contact (parish/community plough operators/snow wardens etc.) within each ward/division to be shared with Councillors in advance of the winter months. The overall aim was to have appropriate contact details included in the Local Winter Action Plans. There did need to be sensitivity around sharing volunteers direct contacts, particularly snow plough volunteers, as they could become overwhelmed with requests, and this would not be being managed centrally. The position of the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To note the attached report and feedback any observations.
6.1 The Committee received a presentation on Gloucestershire’s emerging interchange hub study as included in the reports pack.
6.2 A member raised concern about placing an Interchange Hub within the existing railway station at Cheltenham Spa. They noted that there was not much land left available around the station and described ‘chaos’ in trying to deal with the number of national partners already involved in the site. They suggested as an alternative for a Hub to be created around the existing bus station in town, providing a regular link to the station and benefit for the wider area. Officers acknowledged these points and reassured that Cheltenham Spa was already classed as an Interchange Hub as it existed, there was no intention to build something completely new around the station, but rather review and build on the existing facilities. The map included in the report showed only the Interchange Hubs identified during the review of the Local Transport Plan last year and was not yet completed.
6.3 Members noted the recent 2023/24 Capital Programme funding commitment to allocate £1.2m over future years towards the development of interchange hubs, it was yet to be decided how this money would be allocated specifically, but it was hoped that the results of the current study and feed into the BSIP, would attract more external funding in the future and particularly so from Section 106 developer contributions. It was therefore important for GCC to build on working relationships with the district councils (as the planning authorities), and feed into their Local Plans through its role as a statutory consultee. It was stressed however that GCC had no power to require district councils to include, for example, Interchange Hubs in their Local Plans. Officer would keep the Committee up to date on the project’s progress via the Executive Director’s report.
6.4 It was confirmed that Market Town Hubs could consider adding in convenience facilities, but it was something that would need to be explored at each location, depending what residents wanted and the space/funding available. It may be that the Hub sought to link up with facilities already in place, or that there would be a short walk to access said facilities.
6.5 A member reiterated the need for urgency around this study and project, transport was one of the county’s biggest carbon emitters and the Hubs would play a really big part in the decarbonisation journey. They were keen that rural areas did not miss out, and also benefited from its potential to improve access to tourism. It was reassured that officers recognised this study was a key cornerstone for decarbonisation, as well as its importance for rural communities. The idea for Hubs had initially arisen during the Council’s application for the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund and officers continued to prioritise its benefit for rural communities in the current study.
The attached report is to be taken as read and members have 30 minutes allocated at the meeting to ask questions. Members are encouraged to pre-submit questions beforehand if they are able via Sophie Benfield in Democratic Services.
This report includes an update on the tree planting programme and the 2022/23 Quarter 4 performance data.
7.1 The pre-submitted questions and response are attached as an appendix.
7.2 In response to a further question around the future of public transport provision, it was advised that general contact with the Traffic Commissioner around the Stagecoach withdrawals earlier this year had been positive, there was a clear message that any bus operator was required to keep within published timescales for service withdrawal. Pressure on the bus network continued, the report highlighted that further service withdrawals were on the horizon and members were concerned what the long-term plan was to ensure more people were not left without transport options.
7.3 Officers highlighted the interim solutions that had been put in place where Stagecoach had already withdrawn services, and that the Council would continue to consider options on a case-by-case basis. There was a wider question however around the future of the bus network and this would form the basis for the Public Transport Network Review which was currently being drafted for Cabinet’s consideration. The Review was an opportunity to give a status check around provision, future changes, GCC’s ability to support future changes, financial pressures etc. and the aim of the Review would be to retain the most comprehensive network possible, as well as identifying alternative options to support provision where necessary.
7.4 A member questioned what GCC’s response was to Great Western Rail recently withdrawing funding for an active travel link from the Honeybourne Line end at Cheltenham Spa Station to Shelburne Road and on to the A40. Officers expressed they were extremely disappointed this funding had been lost, as this left a ‘missing link’ in the overall 26-mile cycle spine and would be doing all they could to try and rectify the situation. At a minimum this would be to lobby the relevant organisations to try and find a solution, but also to explore any possible alternative funding options, for example, via the Community Infrastructure Levy funds held by district Councils.
To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
8.1 A member made two suggestions which, due to the detail involved, the Vice-Chair (in the Chair) suggested the member began by submitting them as questions. It was agreed the councillor would email Democratic Services with their specific questions to be answered in writing and shared with the Committee in first instance.
8.2 It was queried whether the current Bus Improvements Task Group would be considering the Public Transport Network Review (as mentioned above) prior to it being considered by Cabinet.
ACTION: Democratic Services
8.3 Members noted that the scheduled update item on the Restoring our Rivers Task Group recommendations would need to be delayed. The Task Group had concluded its work in November and, due to a recent budget amendment to provide a resource to support the implementation of its recommendations, there was nothing yet to update at this stage. This item would therefore be put on the future items list for future consideration.
8.4 A member requested that the item to review the Traffic Regulation Order process and delivery be considered as a priority.
8.5 Due to Annual Council this month, and the potential for changes in Committee membership, members were advised that a work plan meeting with lead members would be arranged next month.