To receive the presentation of Dean Sargeant (Director: Neighbourhood & Enforcement Services).
The Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure will attend for this item.
Members received the report of the Director: Neighbourhood & Enforcement Services.
The Local Transport Plan, an overarching document covering the management of highways, had been in place since 2011 and ran through to 2026. There were, in addition, a number of sub-strategies. All came together to present the overall network management. Since the plan was originally written, there had been significant changes in the Borough – notably the climate emergency.
Work on the replacement Local Transport Plan had begun and the plan was in its early stages. Officers would be looking to hold workshops, both internally and externally, to gather thoughts on the new proposals. A number of other strategies, including the local plan, would inform the new transport plan.
The Committee also received updates on a number of other issues.
With regard to electric vehicles (EV), Members heard that, while EV was growing, there were relatively few EV in the Borough but that the Council was planning for an expansion in the number of such vehicles. At the time of the meeting, there 24 publicly available charging points in Telford. The Authority was keen to improve access to charging points and would be working with private car park operators and businesses to expand availability. Linking into the Council’s bus strategy, electric buses were being investigated with a view to decarbonising transport to as great an extent as possible.
As part of a national bus strategy, the Council would have access to significant funding to improve bus services in the Borough. An enhanced bus partnership scheme had to be implemented by June 2021 as a condition of funding partnership and improvement plans had to be in place by April 2022. Officers were looking to increase usage of bus services and to improve routes. New guidance from the Department for Transport was being received on a daily basis.
The Bus Service Improvement Strategy (BSIP) was reviewed by bi-annually and republished yearly. The Council had consulted with residents to discover why they did not travel by bus and what would encourage them to travel by bus more often. From that consultation, issues were identified surrounding fare structuring, multi-operating ticketing, and network coverage. Consultation carried out by the adult social care team had also informed the review having highlighted barriers to services. There was an ambition to develop a more resilient network with wider route coverage and better rural services. The Department for Transport wished to see reduced fares.
Active travel had been a focus in the preceding year, with officers noting the Council’s Gear Change policy. An active travel policy had been developed in 2017 and was due for review. A consultation had been carried out in June and July 2021 and received a strong response. The Authority was processing responses and working with partners to develop a revised strategy.
Following the report, Members posed a number of questions:
When could a report on Active Travel be expected?
Would the bus strategy report be available in the same timeframe?
This was expected in early 2022. The BSIP was intended to be a living document and it was hoped that the Council’s scrutiny function could review the document in the first quarter of 2022.
What was being done to encourage and facilitate business provision of EV charging points? Especially with regard to businesses with forecourts, such as McDonalds.
The Authority would look to engage commercial partners and operators of shopping sites. It was hoped that the Council’s strategy would sufficiently demonstrate the demand for EV charge points and that businesses would bring forward their own initiatives or the Council could work with business to deliver the necessary infrastructure. The EV strategy would not just be a matter of the Council building infrastructure alone.
What role was there for rail in the transport strategy?
Rail would be a key part of the strategy and there were ambitions for electrification of the line between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.
How much did the bus subsidy spend amount to? How was it split?
The subsidy was £400,000. The spending split was not to hand.
Following questions, there was a discussion on the provision of rural bus services.
A suggestion was made that the Council’s red bus service could supplement bus services in rural areas during school hours when the buses were not in use.