agenda for these minutes
Councillors Moulding (Chairman), Ball, Bowden, Clarance, Dempster, Eastman, Edgell,
Foggin, Hawkins, Hill, Hook, B Hughes and Vint
(NB: Councillor Foggin attended for items up to and including Minute *49
Councillors Ball and Hawkins attended for items up to and including Minute *51]
Members attending in accordance with Standing Order 25:-
Councillor S Hughes
Councillors Radford and Way
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2014 be signed as a correct record.
*49 Road Traffic Collisions and Casualties 2013 (Minute * 47/10 June 2014)
Salient points included the following:
the overall long-term (10 year) position for Devon's road casualties was mixed, with the figures for all severities maintaining a downward trend, although there were some concerns and challenges;
2013 had also seen the lowest number of fatalities on record;
collisions involving serious casualties were rising;
this applied to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists (although overall casualty numbers were decreasing over time);
the 5 year downward trend for all severities of child casualty was encouraging, although child pedestrian injuries were increasing;
the figures for Devon collisions and casualties were broadly in line with national and regional statistics;
cars had been involved in 84% of injury collisions on Devon's roads during 2013 and 91% of those involving serious injury;
evidence showed that the primary cause of most collisions was driver behaviour.
The Report indicated that there would be a co-ordinated response by the County Council and partner organisations to reducing the number of serious injuries, reflecting a refreshed Road Safety Strategy following further detailed analysis of the factors behind these types of collision. Influencing the skills and behaviours of motorists would be central to protecting vulnerable road users and was likely to be the principal focus of the County Council and its partners in future. The County Council as a lead partner would treat the user, highway and mode of travel with a combination of the most efficient and effective interventions.
In response to points raised by Members, the Head of Planning, Transportation Environment:
explained that the focus of activities lay on improving drivers' skills, behaviour and knowledge and on encouraging them to discharge their responsibilities properly;
confirmed that some European cultures and attitudes favoured cyclists and pedestrians more than car drivers, particularly in Holland where road traffic law favoured the more vulnerable road user;
understood that road drivers had concerns over whether cyclists followed the same road rules and Highway Code, as they had been seen to ignore red lights putting themselves and other road users at risk;
training young people to use the road properly and administer the correct behaviour was key to increasing road users' safety;
acknowledged that the New Forest National Park had experienced problems with a large influx of cyclists using roads through the Park. While there had been a significant increase in the number of cyclists on Devon roads, and road users were still getting used to the new traffic mix, there was no evidence of the scale of the problems experienced in the New Forest;
indicated that the underlying cause behind an increase in serious accidents and injuries to cyclists and pedestrians was being explored, focusing on those areas where cyclists and drivers may be in conflict - for example higher density urban areas and rural lanes. Evidence showed that there was some correlation between a higher number of cyclists on roads where there were more 20mph speed zones in urban areas, and collisions involving cyclists. This was also being researched at a national level;
advised that County Council Officers met with partner agencies such as the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service in a formal setting every quarter to discuss business and operational aspects of tackling road traffic accidents. Outside of this, officers were in constant contact with external agencies, working together, and had embedded Fire and Rescue Service Officers within the County Council's Road Safety Team;
informed the Committee of collision clusters which identified discernable patterns within geographic areas. Four new collision clusters had recently been identified;
recognised potential difficulties in enforcing road users' behaviour and actions if the number of frontline traffic Police Officers was reduced. Engineering the environment to make it harder for drivers to reach 20mph was considered the most effective way to ensure compliance with the limit, but was acknowledged to be high cost with unintended consequences for pollution and network efficiency;
explained that there was a debate as to whether signing and Traffic Orders alone would reduce the number of road incidents. A national review of the effectiveness of 20mph limits was currently being undertaken by the Department for Transport.
It was MOVED by Councillor Moulding, SECONDED by Councillor Hook and
RESOLVED that the Head of Planning, Transportation Environment provide the Committee with an update once the Department for Transport had published its national review of the effectiveness of 20mph limits.
*50 Parish Lengthsman Service (Minute *45/10 June 2014)
The Committee received and noted the Report of the Head of Highways, Capital Development Waste (HCW/14/70 - text only | pdf HCW/14/70) summarising the current Parish Lengthsman service and exploring the potential for community self-help in undertaking highway drainage and cleaning works.
The Report drew attention to:
the responsibilities of Parish Lengthsmen which focused on minor highway drainage maintenance and cleaning works and identifying larger problems; the suspension of the Lengthsman service earlier this year due to the redeployment on priority clean up and repair work following the winter storms; the generally reduced availability of Lengthsmen for locally determined activities due to their involvement in the annual clean of drainage features; and the possibility of further budgetary reductions in the Lengthsman service;
joint working with Parish and Town Councils to supplement the Parish Lengthsman service;
training in highway safety awareness for Parish and Town Council representatives and the development of a Community Road Warden Scheme using trained local council representatives to organise and supervise community volunteers undertaking various minor highway maintenance works.
Members' discussion points with the Head of Highways, Capital Development Waste included:
pressure on revenue budgets and ensuring all services brought best value for money and moved away from providing additional non-statutory services;
joint working with partner agencies, Parish and Town Councils and community self-help programmes such as the Snow Warden Scheme and developing a Road Warden Scheme in order to enter a mutually beneficial working relationship with communities maintaining the safety and integrity of the public highway and to reduce the risk of flooding;
giving local councils more control over prioritising workloads;
removing "red tape" and procedures to allow volunteers to take on more services
e.g. farmers using red diesel to cut hedges and clear drains;
local councils to be informed if County Council funding for Lengthsman services was to be reduced as they may potentially have to look at resetting their precepts. This would be addressed at the Parish and Town Council Conferences this month;
smaller parishes could form clusters to provide these services;
not all areas of Devon were equal. Some parishes would be able to carry out additional services whereas others would not. It was important not to assume that the general public would be able to take on extra work and services;
the extent to which these changes would interfere with the responsibility of the local authority to reduce the risk of flooding if parishes were given responsibility to carry out Lengthsman services. It was pointed out that critical drainage work would continue to be carried out by the local authority.
*51 Cycle Paths - Implementation of Existing Programmes (Minute *46/10 June 2014)
The Committee considered the Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation Environment (PTE/14/62 - text only | pdf PTE/14/62) setting out progress with the delivery of existing cycle programmes and introducing the emerging cycle strategy.
The Report stated that the Granite and Gears cycling programme had been awarded 4.372m following a successful bid against the Department for Transport's Cycling Ambition Fund, to which a local contribution of 3m had been added. The programme aimed to create family friendly multi-use routes which would improve access to Dartmoor and Devon communities' connectivity to these routes. The bid was primarily focused on improvements to three high quality walking and cycling routes on the western and eastern sides of Dartmoor: the Wray Valley Trail between Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead; the Granite Way between Tavistock and Okehampton and the Drake's Trail between Tavistock and Plymouth. While planning and land negotiations had made several of these schemes challenging to deliver to tight timescales, a substantial programme of cycle route upgrades and improvements would be completed and grant funding spent by March 2015.
The County Council was also progressing the design of and delivering several other cycle routes across Devon using funds from a combination of sources, although the programme was focused on land negotiations and scheme design.
The Report indicated that from 2015/16 the level of Local Transport Plan integrated block funding would be cut by approximately half (from 6.159m to 3.601m) with all non maintenance transport capital funding from the Government being delivered through the Growth Deal process managed by Local Enterprise Partnerships. A new Cycling Strategy was being prepared which reflected the changing financial context and the pressures it would put on future funding of cycle schemes across Devon. Match funding would be an important element of the new Strategy.
Members' discussion points with the Head of Planning, Transportation Environment included:
the trail network was used by all members of the public including cyclists, walkers, runners, wheelchair users and horse riders;
there would be reduced funding in 2015/16 therefore projects that reflect key strategic routes would be prioritised;
cycle paths should be well signposted and marketed in order to ensure the public were aware they were available for use;
a number of tracks were also designated as bridleways and the Transportation team was working with the Public Rights of Way team to look at a multi-use approach to some of the tracks. Concern was expressed that if cycle paths were used as bridleways the surfaces would not be compatible.
It was MOVED by Councillor Moulding, SECONDED by Councillor Hook and
RESOLV ED that the Report be noted and that a list of those cycle routes that are also designated bridleways be circulated to the Committee as well as the list of priority projects in light of the 2015/16 funding reductions.
*52 Flooding Task Group - Final Report (Minute *40/14 March 2014)
The Committee considered the Report of the Flooding Task Group (CS/14/31 - text only | pdf CS/14/31) which had been established to examine how the Devon Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was being implemented, how all the risk management authorities were working together in the event of a flood and how to reduce the risk of further flooding.
The Task Group believed that the Devon Local Flood Risk Management Strategy provided a suitable framework for effective flood risk management across Devon. In order to gather momentum, the Strategy now needed to be delivered and working relationships between the risk management authorities and other key stakeholders embedded. All the organisations involved had to accept and act upon their responsibilities with proper county-wide co-ordination from Devon County Council as a lead local flood authority. The Task Group had also emphasised the importance of maintaining appropriate scrutiny arrangements to oversee the implementation of flood risk management functions in Devon, as envisaged by the Flood and Water Management Act, 2010 as well as to gauge progress against the recommendations of the Task Group.
The Task Group's Report had made a series of recommendations relating to improved "signposting" to the relevant responsible authority, partnership working and information sharing and referred to work on increasing community resilience.
During discussion, Members emphasised the need for partner flood risk management authorities to have sufficient funds available for implementing flood defence schemes. Whilst the Task Group believed that the Devon Flood Risk Management Strategy provided a suitable framework for effective flood risk management across Devon, the concern remained that the ability to deliver and embed this through the activities of all relevant Risk Management Authorities would be highly dependent upon the resources available for this. The Task Group recommendations also highlighted the added value that could be achieved through increased co-operation and joint working.
It was MOVED by Councillor Moulding, SECONDED by Councillor Hook and
RESOLVED that the Task Group's findings and recommendations be commended to the Cabinet for approval and action.
*53 Place Scrutiny Committee Work Programme
The Committee reviewed and endorsed the list of forthcoming business, subject to the addition of the following:
Pre-Meeting Briefing on procurement to cover South West Highways contracts, update on how contracts are performing and when they would be reconsidered;
Business continuity in times of emergency or road works and the effect and impact on
Flooding Task Group implementation of recommendations.
*DENOTES DELEGAT ED MATTER WITH POWER TO ACT
The meeting started at 2.00pm and finished at 4.50pm