Agenda item

Road Safety

This council notes that:

·         road safety and traffic speeds are of significant concern to many residents in Gloucestershire, in both urban and rural areas.

·         elected county councillors have a key role to play, working with local communities, to resolve these concerns, finding effective road safety solutions to help pedestrians, cyclists and all road users.

 

However, this council further notes that:

·         when county councillors request measures to reduce traffic speeds, even when offering to put their highways local funds towards it, policy and financial constraints mean they rarely come to fruition.

·         a key obstacle in securing some traffic calming measures is the cost of Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) and the lengthy processes needed to secure changes such as yellow lines.

 

Therefore this council resolves to:

1)       ask Cabinet to review county council policies relating to traffic calming, including the use of physical design and vehicle activated signage, to aid councillors in securing evidence-based road changes.

2)       write to the relevant Secretary of State to:

a.       express our serious concern that national road safety guidelines are too restrictive and ask for the guidance to be reviewed to create a more enabling policy framework.

b.       clarify what progress has been made to simplify the TRO process.

3)       consider increasing the road safety budget for 2020-21 through the budget setting process, which could include a ring fenced budget for each council division. 

4)       build on existing local road safety initiatives to establish “road safety partnerships” for each of the six districts where there are none, and to formalise the relationship between road safety partnerships and the highways authority and county councillors.

 

Minutes:

4.1      Members noted the motion included in the agenda pack that had been referred to the Committee from full Council on 11 September 2019. In particular they focused on the suggested resolution:

 

1)      ask Cabinet to review county council policies relating to traffic calming, including the use of physical design and vehicle activated signage, to aid councillors in securing evidence-based road changes.

2)      write to the relevant Secretary of State to:

a.      express our serious concern that national road safety guidelines are too restrictive and ask for the guidance to be reviewed to create a more enabling policy framework.

b.      clarify what progress has been made to simplify the TRO process.

3)      consider increasing the road safety budget for 2020-21 through the budget setting process, which could include a ring fenced budget for each council division. 

4)      build on existing local road safety initiatives to establish “road safety partnerships” for each of the six districts where there are none, and to formalise the relationship between road safety partnerships and the highways authority and county councillors.

 

4.2      Philip Williams introduced the report which sought to give a brief overview of the work carried out regarding road safety in the Council. It provided some headline figures. Members received a presentation to compliment that report. Andrew Parker Mowbray, Road Safety and Transport Data Team Leader and Alexis Newport, Parking Manager, provided members with additional information.

 

Members noted the partners that worked towards improving road safety including:

·         Integrated Transport Unit

·         Department of Transport

·         Road Safety and Transport Data

·         Parking Team

·         Police and OPCC
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

·         Highways

·         Highways Development Management

·         Highways England

 

4.2      The Committee understood the background to the dissolving of the Road Safety Partnership . While the partnership had previously provided a hub for those partners  to co-ordinate road safety activity, those partners were still working together behind the scenes. There were some benefits to the new approach with road safety sat within the Council for example having better connections with highways engineers.

 

4.3      Members saw a map showing the injury collisions on the network in Gloucestershire over the last three years. This demonstrated higher numbers of casualties in urban areas. It was suggested that these would include incidents around junctions, incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians in comparison to speed related collisions in broader parts of the network.

 

4.4      In the past, regular updates in relation to road traffic incidents were sent out to members and some members suggested that it would be worth circulating that data again. In response it was explained that a change in reporting had made it difficult to compare past data. There was now a national system on reporting ‘Killed and Seriously Injured’ and those councils that had taken on that system had seen a 20% increase in serious causalities being reported. Those councils that had yet to take on that system were not showing that increase. Now that the data had been collated over a number of years it was getting easier to use meaningful statistics. It was confirmed that data was available down to parish level and could be provided for each division. This would be circulated to members.

ACTION                     Andrew Parker-Mowbray

 

4.5      One member raised the fact that where Gloucestershire had a larger population than neighbouring counties it was likely to have a higher number of incidents and for that reason he didn’t see the value in comparing actual numbers across counties.

 

4.6      The Committee understood that Gloucestershire road casualties were falling. This data was broken down by mode of transport and age over the three year period. The information provided to members included ‘causation’ with ‘failed to look properly’ and ‘failed to judge other persons path or speed’ as the highest causes. Members were informed that this information was provided by the police following an officer’s assessment of the incident.

 

4.7      One member asked whether it was becoming more dangerous to cycle now compared to previously. He requested comparison data around incidents to cyclists and pedestrians and suggested this be provided to the Cycling Advisory Group.

ACTION         Andrew Parker-Mowbray

 

4.8      In relation to the motion that the Committee were considering, members discussed the value of local bodies in districts investigating their own road safety statistics. The Committee were informed that there were road safety liaison groups in the Forest and in Stroud.

 

4.9      Members noted the design criteria at a national level including the Road Traffic Regulation Act, Manual for Streets, the Design of Pedestrian Crossings, and the Road Safety Statement 2019 etc.

 

4.10    One member raised the issue around design of pedestrian crossings citing Belgium as an example where different designs were used. He compared this to the regulations which restricted the designs in the UK. He emphasised the importance of making local decisions. It was noted that the motion being considered suggested a letter being written to the Secretary of State to express concern about national road safety guidelines and it was suggested that the letter include examples such as the one given.

 

4.11    The Committee noted that the motion included a need to clarify what progress had been made to simplify the TRO process. Members were provided with information on the changes within the team and the statutory timeframes and guidance that was followed. Consultees to a TRO would consider the guidance when deciding whether to support the scheme so it was important to take this seriously.

 

4.12    Some members commented on the issues they faced in their areas where individuals were asking for a lowering of the speed limit, but there was no evidence based justification for it and this caused conflict. Officers emphasised the importance of being able to justify recommendations as well as find a balance with communities and the police.

 

4.13    In response to a question it was confirmed that the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 was the overarching legislation regarding TROs.

 

4.14    The TRO team was made up of 3.5 fte staff with around 35 live schemes being worked on in addition to parking reviews. Each TRO scheme took on a different level of resource and a member of the team was heavily involved in Cheltenham transport plan phase 4. Members understood that the appointment of a TRO manager had been made who would begin in December 2019.

 

4.15    There was a national initiative called the TRO discovery project by the Department of Transport, this was championed by the British Parking Association. This project was looking at current legislation and where there would be efficiencies to speed up the process. There has been correspondence with the TRO team at the County Council who had gone back to the Department with comments on some draft material.

 

4.16    The Committee were informed that some work was underway within the TRO team to review internal processes and procedures. One member asked whether the County Council had the expertise to provide a design for the review process and a visual representation of how TROs worked which could be made available to the public and to members. In response it was explained that the review was initially involving the team taking a look at their own processes. There was an individual in the parking team who was an expert at mapping processes and timelines and he was someone that could be asked to be involved. The team would be more than happy to share the progress with members including a timeframe for the work.
ACTION                     Alexis Newport

 

4.17    Members were provided with information about a web based portal that was in place where the public could go on and view what TRO’s were in place on their street. There was a consultation section which the team were looking to make live as that could reduce the amount of letter writing as part of a consultation process and help provide efficiencies through encouraging people to respond directly online. In response to a question it was explained that consultation on TROs were carried out as widely as the scheme required, for example local schools, residents and businesses.

 

 

4.18    It was explained that an expensive part of the TRO process related to officer time. It was important to have wider partner involvement at the original scoping meeting to help manage expectations and ensure broad support. There was not a TRO budget available waiting for schemes. Every TRO had to be funded from another source whether contributions from the developer, highways local or matching a community scheme. There were options available, but the resources had to be found.

 

 

4.19    There was a discussion about the fact that future technological advancements could change the nature of the road safety issues and solutions being considered. For example, automated cars could allow for speed limits to directly dictate how fast people drove. 

 

4.20    Members discussed the need for education to tackle road safety concerns, Skillzone was provided as an example of a resource schools could use. There was some concern that attendance at Skillzone was not as strong as it could be. Officers would provide an update on attendance figures and funding around school visits.

ACTION                     Philip Williams

 

4.21    The Committee revisited the motion that had been referred from full Council. It was agreed that the Committee would recommend a Cabinet Panel be established to consider and take forward points 1), 3) and 4) of the resolution.

 

The Committee agreed to write a letter to the Secretary of State, as detailed in the motion, expressing serious concern that national road safety guidelines were too restrictive and to ask for the guidance to be reviewed to create a more enabling policy framework. In addition the letter would include examples provided by members and reinforce the Council’s response to the National TRO Discovery Project.

 

Supporting documents: