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Meeting Details

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
3 Dec 2020 - 19:00 to 21:00
Scheduled
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Agenda

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VIRTUAL MEETING - LINK TO VIEW

This meeting will be a virtual meeting and therefore will not take place in a physical location following regulations made under Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. This meeting can be viewed by following this link:

LINK HERE

 

1 Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To note any apologies for absence and substitutions.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Burke.

Councillor Donnelly was present as a substitute for Councillor Burke.

 

2 Declarations of Interest
To note any declarations of interest made by members.

Councillor Bell disclosed that he was a member of the Transport for London (TfL) Board. However whenever funding to local authorities was discussed or agreed upon at TfL meetings he recused himself from any decision making.

 

Councillors Driscoll, Dabrowska, Woodroofe, Shaw, Rooney and D Crawford disclosed that they lived in or near to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). However they did not feel the proximity to a LTN constituted a disclosable pecuniary interest as it would have no impact on the value of their properties. Therefore they would remain in the meeting and participate in the debate and vote when considering this item.

 

3 Urgent Matters
To consider any urgent matters that the Chair has agreed should be considered at the meeting.

There were no urgent matters.

 

4 Matters to be Considered in Private
To determine whether items contain information that is exempt from disclosure by virtue of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

Resolved: That all items be considered in public as proposed.

 

5 Minutes

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2020.

 

Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2020 are agreed as a correct record of the meeting.

 

Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of the Council, introduced a report outlining the COVID Emergency Transport Measures the Council had introduced in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

 

Councillor Bell explained that the council had introduced four main types of projects to react to the challenges created by the pandemic. These consisted of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), School Streets Schemes, temporary bicycle lanes and temporary pavement widening measures to allow greater social distancing.

 

A call for schemes was sent out to all Councillors early on in the pandemic, with representations also received from other organisations, and a long list of schemes was considered at the Cabinet meeting in June. Officers worked up funding applications for the schemes that made it onto the short list, with funding received from TfL, Department for Transport (DfT) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Some of the funding for the first tranche of schemes was conditional on schemes being live rapidly - for example the LTNs were required to be implemented by September. This necessitated implementing schemes with short consultation periods using Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) which allowed the authority to amend schemes once they were live and feedback was received through them being operational. An example of a reactive change to improve the schemes due to be made was that feedback was received from the emergency services that the schemes would work better if the concrete bollards and planters were replaced with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which meant emergency access was quicker. Another example was that Cabinet was due to consider as part of the interim assessment of the scheme was whether, once ANPR cameras were implemented at all LTNs, an exemption for Blue Badge holders could be introduced.

 

The various schemes that had been implemented had various levels of success. The cycling measures that had been implemented had been popular with cyclists and there had been an increase in cycling in these locations. School Streets had been popular with schools and there hadn't been any problems recruiting volunteers to help run the schemes. The footway widening schemes had seen mixed success, with some being more successful than others. The most controversial schemes were the LTNs, which had been implemented swiftly and had become divisive schemes that invoked strong opinions in favour or against within the community.

 

For the active travel schemes, the Council had bid for £1.89 million of funding and had been awarded £1.1 million from TfL. This was from a overall pot of £45 million, however a proportion of the £45 million was used to fund schemes that had already been proposed across London and could be implemented rapidly, rather than new schemes that had been proposed due to the crisis.

 

A less well known success story compared to LTNs and Cycle lanes was the introduction of school streets. These schemes closed the streets around schools to traffic and drop off and pick up times through volunteers, often parents, placing movable barriers in the streets. Parents and staff at the schools that had taken place had reported the schemes were popular, successful and had made a real difference to the number of parents driving their children to school.

 

The key requirement for the first round of funding was speed of implementation, with TfL requiring the schemes be operational by the end of September. This meant the usual lengthy consultation process couldn't take place and instead Experimental Traffic Orders (ETO) had to be made. Using the ETO process meant schemes could be implemented quickly, and then monitored and amended once the schemes were live to ensure problems were resolved. All of the schemes that were made under ETOs were due to be considered at Cabinet in January to decide whether to extend the schemes, make them permanent or to remove the orders altogether. The LTN schemes made under these types of traffic orders had undergone changes from when they were first implemented as a result of feedback. For example, originally the proposal was to block the streets using planters. This was then changed to bollards, and then Automatic Numberplate Recogntion (ANPR) Cameras after representations were made by the Emergency Services. Further amendments were being recommended in the Cabinet report due to be considered in December, including converting all LTN barriers to ANPR Cameras and introducing an exemption for Blue Badge holders for the LTN they resided in.

 

A second tranche of funding had been made available by TfL and DfT and five schemes in Ealing were ready to be consulted on with ward councillors. These schemes included walking and cycling schemes as well as new LTNs. Once consultation had happened with ward Councillors wider consultation could take place before implementation. The consultation requirements were different for these schemes, and there was a requirement to consult on the schemes before implementation.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Bell for updating the Committee on the schemes, and invited two members of the public to address the Committee on the issue of LTNs. Mark Ecclestone spoke in favour of and Laura O'Driscoll spoke against the LTNs.

 

The Committee questioned the Cabinet Members and Officers present for this item, and the following questions were asked:

 

  • Was it possible to make the temporary cycle lanes permanent, and if so what did this look like in practice?

  • What could the Council do to encourage cycling other than building cycle lanes - for example building street hangars and allowing residents to place cycle sheds in their front gardens?

  • How could more schools be encouraged to take part in the School Streets Schemes and would it be possible to introduce ANPR cameras for these schemes?

  • Blue badges were issued to individuals, not vehicles, so how was the blue badge exemption proposed to be managed for blue badge holders living in an LTN?

  • At the end of the ETO period how would the Council know whether the LTN had been successful and therefore whether it would be retained permanently?

  • What contingencies could be put into place to ensure that if there is a major problem on one of the main roads around an LTN that traffic could find its way around any incidents without causing unnecessary gridlock?

  • Would it be possible to consult with residents to see where LTNs would be supported and could be implemented easily before making applications for funding rather than working towards funding deadlines and consulting afterwards?

  • As the ETOs were due to be renewed at Cabinet in December, which meant they would run for another 6 months, would previous consultation results remain valid and taken into account when the schemes were assessed at the end of the period?

  • Were there any revenue costs associated with installing ANPR cameras to LTN areas?

  • How many outside organisations and individuals were consulted with on the initial list of schemes?

  • Was the Council gathering data on traffic movements across the borough, including LTN areas,  non LTN areas and streets that bordered LTNs so the Council could make an informed decision as to whether the LTN schemes had worked when the schemes had their assessment.

 

In response to the questions asked, Councillor Bell, Councillor J Anand and Chris Cole, Transport Projects and Policy Manager stated:

 

  • The problem with building fully segregated cycle lanes was that they were expensive and required a lot of space on the road. The temporary lanes could be made permanent, and this cost would be relatively modest as it involved installing armadillos in the road, which would be more substantial segregation than existed. The problem with further expanding the temporary schemes, for example on the Uxbridge Road, was there wasn't much space available to build in segregation.

  • Funding wasn't available in the streetscapes element of emergency COVID funding to further expand cycle parking. The issue with cycle parking in residents' front gardens was that this sometimes required planning permission. The Committee could make a recommendation that the Local Development Plan Advisory Committee consider recommending a planning policy to allow residents to build cycle sheds in their gardens without planning permission.

  • The school streets scheme was meant to be an inexpensive way to improve the environment and habits of parents when it came to transporting their children to and from school. ANPR cameras would make the schemes prohibitively expensive due to multiple roads requiring closure. The Council would engage with more schools to suggest they adopt School Streets schemes.

  • The details of the blue badge exemption were still being finalised. But the preferred approach was that a blue badge holder would register one or two vehicles that would be allowed an exemption to the LTN the blue badge holder lived in. This approach had worked well in other boroughs. The blue badge holder would not get an overall exemption for all LTNs in the borough as this would dilute the point of LTNs and traffic would increase in these areas.

  • There were a variety of metrics to measure success for the LTNs. Public support within the LTN area was only one of a number of different measures that had to be taken into account. The effects and impacts of LTNs were too complicated and far reaching to be decided on a simple yes/no consultation of residents within an LTN area. Other metrics that needed to be considered was any effects on traffic evaporation, air quality within and around LTN areas and the degree of modal shift away from private car use the LTNs had encouraged.

  • Major accidents and other incidents would happen from time to time on roads surrounding LTNs, as they were unavoidable. Congestion from these incidents would occur whether the LTNs were in place or not, and traffic would eventually find alternative routes.

  • Due to the funding deadlines, the specific type of traffic order mandated and the urgency of the situation it was not possible to do a large consultation with residents before introducing the first tranche of LTNs. Although there was a requirement for greater consultation with the second tranche of LTN schemes, it would not be possible to undertake a detailed consultation in the way Committee members suggested due to funding deadlines. However a larger consultation across the borough asking residents to identify issues and solutions may be possible in the medium to longer term.

  • Any comments made by residents on the current schemes remained valid and would be considered at the end of the ETO period as part of the final assessment of the LTN schemes.

  • There was a revenue cost associated with ANPR cameras, however the Council already operated a network of similar cameras and the new cameras would be absorbed into this service. There were additional overheads as a result of these cameras, but these were expected to be covered by income from fines issued to drivers ignoring the rules.

  • Outside organisations and residents were not considered directly for the first tranche of funding. However two cycling organisations had proactively contacted the Council when it was apparent that funding was being made available for local authorities to bid for.

  • The Council, TfL and the DfT had all been gathering data across the borough on traffic movements during the ETO period, and in some cases from before, which would be part of the evidence base when Cabinet made their final assessment on the success of the LTNs.

 

The Committee discussed the answers provided and observed that the debate around this issue had been divisive, both within the Council and within the communities affected by the LTNs. It was clear that there were real benefits to these schemes, and the aims of improving air quality, reducing transport based greenhouse gas emissions and increasing active travel to reduce obesity were supported by the Committee. However there had been problems with the implementation of the schemes, and with a perceived lack of consultation with residents, which had been exasperated by the requirement of the funding organisations for the Council to implement the schemes rapidly. The Committee raised concerns around data collection and wanted to ensure a strong evidence base when the LTN schemes had their final assessment, as well as baseline data available for areas for which LTNs were being considered for the future. The Committee was also concerned to hear that a second tranche of LTN schemes was being prepared when the evidence of the success of the first schemes was not readily available. Due to the controversial nature of the schemes the Committee felt it was important that future Cabinet reports made it clear that removal of the LTN schemes was a distinct option for decision makers. Finally a member of the Committee noted that a new active travel quango was due to be set up by the government and wanted to ensure that the Council worked with this body ensure that the Council's position compared to the national context was understood.

 

Resolved:

 

  1. That the Local Development Plan Advisory Committee should include provision for allowing residents to construct cycle storage sheds in their front gardens as part of the Local Plan review.

  2. That Cabinet considers contingency planning to divert traffic congestion when boundary roads are closed in emergencies.

  3. That benchmarking data is considered for traffic levels across the borough, including in areas without LTNs, when a final decision is taken whether to retain the LTNs currently in place.

  4. That residents be consulted more widely across the borough on transport issues to assist with identifying future schemes before funding is made available.

  5. That clarity on the specifics of blue badge holder exemptions for LTNs be provided to the Committee.

  6. Evidence of the benefits of the existing LTN schemes should be available before the Council introduces new schemes.

  7. That baseline data is gathered for streets that new LTNs are proposed for to ensure that the Council are able to assess whether new LTNs have achieved their objectives.

  8. That substantial revisions of schemes, and removal of them altogether, need to remain as options whenever LTN schemes are considered by Cabinet.

  9. That Officers provide members of the Committee with more information about the new active travel quango, so that the national picture on active travel can be understood.

 

The Chair introduced the Committee's work programme. The Committee were asked to agree the work programme, note the progress on recommendations from the 2018-19 panels and to agree an approach to the recommendations that would be made by Scrutiny Review Panel 3 (SRP 3) during this municipal year.

 

It was proposed that the approach of allowing SRP 3 to make its recommendations at the end of each meeting and submitting them to the decision maker was acceptable, provided the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny was consulted with before the recommendations were submitted to decision makers. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee would then note the recommendations at its next scheduled meeting.

 

Resolved: That

 

1. The Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme (Appendix 1) is agreed.

 

2. The progress on recommendations from the 2018-19 panels (Appendix 2) is noted.

 

3. Future recommendations from Scrutiny Review Panel 3 are submitted to the appropriate decision maker after the meeting, following consultation with the Chair of OSC, and reported to OSC to be noted at the next scheduled OSC meeting.

 

4. The recommendations made by Scrutiny Review Panel 3 (Appendix 3) at its meeting on 19 November are noted.

 

8 Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on 7 January 2021, but only if there is a call-in from the Cabinet meeting in December.

The date of the next meeting was scheduled to be held on 7 January 2021. However if there were no call-ins made from Cabinet in December this meeting would be cancelled.

 

Additional Meeting Documents

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

Visitor Information is not yet available for this meeting