Agenda item

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT: ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE

Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure to update the Committee on current issues.

 

Minutes:

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

 

·         The term maintenance contract was in its third year and was going well. GCC had won awards for collaborative working.

·         The Highways Skills Academy was also doing very well and was bringing through young people, generally from the county, into careers in the highways transport sector. It had just brought online its first advanced apprenticeship.

·         Highways delivery was still feeling the affects of an incredibly bad winter (due to front line staff being on emergency standby from the flooding in December until early March from a ‘perfect storm’ of weather events impacting the road surfaces).

·         This had resulted in 16,000 potholes being repaired from the beginning of January until end of April 2021, estimated at 1000 repairs per week, on top of all the other work of gritting etc.

·         The highways winter maintenance budget overspent by £250,000 last financial year and £500,000 on responsive maintenance. Two months into this financial year, the team were still repairing damage from winter 2020/21.

·         The impact on staff saw almost double the amount of gangs being needed on the network in comparison to last winter.

·         M5 J10 was moving forward very well with the Preferred Route being announced yesterday.

·         GCC were working with Tewkesbury Borough, acting as advisors on the design and implementation of the bridge at Ashchurch which would open up the first part of the Garden Town Development.

·         The CPO orders for the South West Bypass development had been approved. There was now a Judicial Review period until the end of August with construction due to start in January 2022.

·         This project had always been dependent upon funding being secured from Government. The initial bid had been made to the ‘Pinch Point’ funding scheme, however had now been incorporated into the ‘Levelling Up’ funding pot and therefore required a new application. A combined bid (to include the B4063 / A40 Highways England Cycling Scheme project) was therefore now being submitted.

·         Funding had been secured from Government (£1.3m) for two demand responsive public transport trials in the FOD and Cotswolds.

·         There were ongoing issues with the county receiving any monies from developments through the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The potential financial loss to the council of this continuing could be millions.

 

5.2       Noting the major concern around CIL monies, it was added that the county had been trying for several months to secure agreement to commission an external study on the issue. Unfortunately this had only just made procurement and therefore once in place would be many months after it was initially needed.

 

5.3       The main issue with using the CIL arrangement over S106 was the amounts that could be taken off an already very limited pot of money. The districts were able to charge an admin fee against the monies and if there were any neighbourhood plans where the development was, up to 25% of the remaining fund could be taken. Several members requested for an urgent item to be added to the Committee’s work plan.

 

ACTION:       DSU

 

5.4       A member raised that there was adverse weather reports approaching for the county and questioned whether the network was ready if we did have another risk of flooding. It was advised that it was as ready as ever but could never commit 100%. There was always a possibility of flash flooding and dangerous driving conditions when there was very heavy short falls of rain, what was different in December however was the ground already being so saturated before the bad weather hit.

 

5.5       Finally on the rural transport trials, it was questioned whether there would be a review of the trial within the two year period to ascertain if it could be expanded to other rural communities in Gloucestershire.

 

5.6       It was confirmed that the reason for the trial was to understand whether it was more efficient and cost effective to provide this type of demand responsive travel, as opposed to the current subsidy arrangement for rural transport. The project was in its infancy and more time would be needed to see if it worked as hoped. The council had used the money from Govt. to buy four fully accessible minibuses which would remain with the council regardless.

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