Agenda item


Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure to update the Committee on current issues (includes Quarter 4 2020/21 performance data).


5.1       Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure, updated the Committee on current issues. In particular, members noted that:


·         The council’s offer on the ash die back programme of planting two trees for every one felled had received a positive response, but it was then vital that the right tree was planted in the right place, taking into account the required upkeep and safety concerns of planting large trees on the highway network.

·         The J10 Preferred Route had been announced on 16 June, GCC was therefore currently in process of contacting people and working with land agents to address any land impact issues.

·         The Gloucestershire South West Bypass project was moving forward following delays from Covid impacts. A bid had been submitted into the Levelling Up Fund to make up the shortfall in funding and the aim was to be on site by the end of this year.

·         West Cheltenham scheme was due to have Phases 1 & 2 finished this summer, with Phases 3, 4 and the cycle scheme element due to finish in spring 2022.

·         The Emergency Active Travel Fund was currently being used to complete the cycle route ‘spine’ through the county. The London Road Gloucester section was complete, the next section would then link from the end of London Road through to Arle Court in Cheltenham. This was due to be on site by the end of the year if not earlier.

·         Once this section was complete, it would link up to the A40 West Cheltenham cycle scheme and would result in a cycle route from the edge of Gloucester to the train station in Cheltenham.

·         The next phase would then be to link from Black Dog Way in Gloucester to the Canal path and out towards Stroud.

·         GCC had secured £1.3m national funding to trial the responsive public transport system in Cotswolds and the FOD. Four mini buses would be purchased with the money and run a two year test trial.

·         The appointment times at all the HRCs had improved, additional spaces were able to be released due to Covid restrictions reducing. A booking system was still being favoured by resident to continue.

·         The reopening of the Energy from Waste visitor and education centre was due imminently. It had been closed through the pandemic with outreach work being completed virtually.


5.2       An action was taken to look into the delay in signing off the Lydney cycle scheme that had been funded via the LEP.


ACTION:       Colin Chick


5.3       It was questioned whether the county had an overarching tree strategy document that detailed numbers, areas, timelines, costs etc. for the county’s future tree planting.


5.4       It was advised that GCC’s 1m tree planting target had originally had hooked onto the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership Strategy for tree planting. It continued to be a battle to find the appropriate land for this level of tree planting and the funding to deliver. It was added the strategy was mentioned in a number of other documents such as the Climate Change Action Plan.


5.5       The Cabinet Member for this area agreed there needed to be an overarching strategy for the county, but that it also needed a wider focus than just trees, to include targets on biodiversity, CO2 capture, wetlands etc. There were a number of measures that GCC could capture on a dashboard to show whether the momentum was moving in the right direction and whether it was succeeding.


5.6       A member asked whether the county would be able to develop a carbon audit which would sit alongside the economic business case for major development to help understand how we were mitigating the emissions created.


5.7       It was advised that the Council as a corporate body had targets for carbon neutrality which was progressing very well. Unfortunately a wider audit for the county as a geographical area was very difficult to produce as it would rely on the input of partners and due to the level of resource needed. Major projects such as M5 J10 and J9 had their own very extensive environmental checks within the business case. The point was noted and advised it would be explored via the new climate change coordinator post that had just been recruited to.


5.8       On the performance indicators at the end of the report, it was stressed that a 52% satisfaction rate with highways was pretty poor and questioned what the council could do to address it. Officers accepted that previous cuts to the highways budget over many years had recently begun to show its impacts. Over the last few years the council had focused on putting more money in to bring the A and B road network back up to standard, the next step was to put in additional funds for the unclassified road network.


5.9       The Chair requested that members put any further specific issues on highways in an email to DSU in preparation for the September meeting item.


5.10    A member questioned what work was being done with the districts to implement the waste hierarchy, at the top of which was waste reduction and prevention. It was advised that the new Waste Partnership had now been created and there had been an agreement for an amount of money to be available for education on this issue.


5.11    There was a request for officers to look into the need for soil conservation at county farms and a further discussion offline regarding future plans to tackle congestion on  the B4215 in Newent, which a local member felt had not been sufficiently addressed in the revised Local Transport Plan.


5.12    Noting the recent gridlock issues the county faced with another closure of the M5, it was questioned what happened in those situations in regards of traffic management. It was advised that the highways team responded accordingly where possible and where they received prior warning, which was not always the case.


5.13    A member raised a concern of how unclear the A46 diversion route was currently, highlighting a number of residents had been in contact having become lost. There was a need in future for clearer diversions and better communication.

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