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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 29 July 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Regional Transport Consortia Grant (RTCG), Regional Transport Services Grant (RTSG) and Safe Routes in Communities (SRIC) Grant Award 2013/14

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Members of the funding awarded by the Welsh Government (WG) via the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta), to the Council from RTCG, RTSG and SRIC.

Recommendations

1.         That Members note the information contained in this report.

2.         That Members endorse the acceptance of the grants by the Managing Director and the Director of Development Services which have already been accepted by use of delegated powers to meet the deadlines required and criteria of the grants.

3.         That Cabinet approve the recommended use of the RTSG.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To advise Members of the procedures and terms and conditions of the Regional Transport Consortia Grant and the Regional Transport Services Grant.

2.         To endorse the acceptance of the grants by the Managing Director and the Director of Development Services to meet the WG and Sewta deadlines.

3.         To ensure the continued local bus service and community transport provision through the expenditure of all funding streams.

Background

2.         Road Safety Grant was first introduced in 2000/2001, funding numerous Engineering Projects (aimed at improving road safety in the Vale, particularly outside or near schools), as well as providing road safety education, training and publicity.  Both of these have assisted in reducing the number of road safety related accidents year on year ever since.

3.         Road Safety Capital funding is now bid for via the regional Consortia (Sewta) and all schemes are assessed and prioritised on a regional rather than local basis. A criteria for assessment has been agreed and approved by the WG to enable the bids to be prioritised and submitted.

4.         Road Safety Revenue Grant is also submitted via the regional consortia and the relevant education programmes are now agreed regionally.

5.         Since 2011/12, funding has also been granted through the Regional Transport Consortia to provide for Capital Transport Infrastructure.  This funding mechanism has replaced the Transport Grant application process for major projects. This funding is assisting Councils to provide sustainable transport infrastructure, and in the Vale last year, has funded various walking and cycling infrastructure schemes.  It has also funded preparatory works for future years' schemes that benefit public transport infrastructure and sustainable travel schemes to improve roads, reduce congestion and reduce the risk of accidents.

6.         Safe Routes in Communities funding is still submitted to the WG by individual Local Authorities and funding is paid direct to each.

7.         Local Transport Services Grant (LTSG) funding has been awarded in the past to assist Local Authorities support additional bus services over and above those supported services funded from the Council's own budgets. It has previously been a pre-requisite that 10% of the Grant is used to support Community Transport Services.

8.         Bus Services Operator's Grant (BSOG) was paid direct to the bus operators and replaced the previous Fuel Duty Rebate that bus operators previously benefitted from to help sustain bus services. However, for 2013/14, WG have integrated LTSG and BSOG for the regions and have given the money direct to each region to decide how to distribute. It is intended that the Grant will be awarded with quality requirements built in, to enable the regions to improve the facilities and services of the buses. For 2013/14 however, due to time restrictions, the Grant has been given on the old historic basis but via the Consortia, with the intention to change the eligibility criteria for 2014/15.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         The Regional Transport Plan (RTP) was adopted in 2009 by the WG and funding has since been sought through the bidding process for Regional Transport Consortia Grant (RTCG) as part of a 5 year delivery programme of the RTP. The WG requires the Regional Consortia to bid for funding annually and this year the funding for the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) Region has been awarded in excess of £8m.

10.      Following the change last year to Local Road Safety Grant (LRSG) to make it a Regional Road Safety Grant (RRSG) awarded to the Consortia instead of the local authority, this pot has again been reduced for revenue schemes, which has meant a 27% reduction in funding for the Vale. The bid for 2013/14 includes most education elements currently delivered, with the exception of the Children's Traffic Club, which as a region, it was decided, would not be funded. This is mainly due to the fact that the resources have been updated, but are not bilingual and so do not comply with the Welsh Language policies of the Councils. All funding is now held centrally by Torfaen Council as financial host Authority for Sewta, and claims will be paid quarterly to each Council via reimbursement.

11.      There are four engineering schemes awarded funding for this current financial year which scored highly within the region, having been assessed by the Road Safety Capital Working Group, using the criteria agreed by WG and informed by accident data.  A reserve list was also required in case allocations are unspent and/or more funding is released for schemes. These schemes are as follows:

A48 Cowbridge By-Pass £100k

Port Road / Morfa Lane, Wenvoe £65k

Cardiff Road, Dinas Powys £60k

Barry Road, Barry £15k

12.      The terms and conditions of the Grant were revised by the WG in 2011/12 which state that the funding is awarded for the specific schemes that have been applied for and no virement of funding is permissible without agreement from Sewta and the WG.  As with the RTCG, any funding unspent may be re-allocated back to the Sewta funding pot and with prior agreement from the WG, may be spent on any scheme within the Sewta region.  Therefore if funding is not spent in one authority, it may be transferred to another.  The decision of re-allocating the funding is with Sewta and not with the holding Authority.

13.      Further Grant has been allocated through the RTCG to include £184,500 for Railway Walk cycle scheme, £50k towards the creative rural communities scheme which will be used to fund the design of the cycle scheme from Barry Docks Link Road to Culverhouse Cross and £10k for investigating the land options for the Barry to Dinas Powys cycle scheme.

14.      Disappointingly, no money has been awarded to the Vale through the Safe Routes in Communities Grant this year as it did not score as highly as other schemes in other local authorities in Wales.

15.      Local Transport Services Grant and Bus Service Operator's Grant, this year have been superseded by Regional Transport Services Grant, again being held centrally by Torfaen Council and then distributed  to Local Authorities. There has been a decrease of approximately 26% in the two grants over the last 2 years reducing the budget from what was £33,000,000 to £25,000,000 across Wales. The Vale has been awarded £340,444 to spend on supporting bus services, community transport and associated services, £45,119 of which is a minimum amount required to be spent on Community Transport. It is proposed that the funding will be spent on the services as detailed in Appendix A, column marked RTCG expenditure.  Appendix A also provides details of the Council's other committed services funded by its own supported bus budget.

16.      Appendix A does not however take into account the annual increase due to applicable service contracts that are more than one year old from 1st September 2013 under the terms of the contract agreements. The annual review is calculated from appropriate index of prices as recorded in the Monthly Digest of Statistics. The services that would be entitled to the annual increase are Services 88, 89A&B, 90, 94/96, 95(EVE), 95(UHW), 100, 905, B3, X2(M-S eve) and X2(Sun/BH) totalling an estimated additional £13,989.31, if a 2.81% increase is applied as  in 2012.

17.      There are other service opportunities under consideration by utilising S106 funding that is available for sustainable transport, however, this will be a matter for Cabinet and will be the subject of a separate report.

18.      It must be noted that the Village Bus operations ceased on 20th July 2013 and there is not enough budget available to extend the operation as it was operated. However, there may be alternative options via Community Transport provision and a bid for Capital funding from Sewta for a further vehicle to undertake this role is currently being favourably considered by Sewta for recommendation. This may be formally approved in August, albeit, one of the bids will be considered as a reserve list scheme, as there is not enough funding in the budget currently. This may change though throughout the year and the funding may well become available.  A further report on this matter will be presented to Cabinet in early autumn.  This report will include suggested expenditure for the remaining £123,252.84, as is highlighted in Appendix A.     

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19.      The measures contained within this report are fully funded from the Regional Transport Consortia and Regional Transport Services Grant allocations from the WG via Sewta for the Financial Year 2013/2014.  The above capital approvals have been approved for inclusion in the 2013/14 capital programme via use of the Managing Director's emergency powers (May 2013).

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      Measures to improve walking and cycling along with bus services will all aid the reduction of single occupancy car movements, therefore having a positive impact on sustainability and climate change.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.      If local authorities do not provide a road safety service as statutorily required under Section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 action could be taken for a breach of statutory duty.  Providing a road safety service involves (amongst other things) education, training and publicity which benefits road safety and enables the upholding of laws in relation to the safe use of the highway.

22.      The Bus Services and Community Transport detailed in this report operate under the terms of the Transport Act 1985. The Grants received via Sewta, from WG, must be used on the specific provision as for what they have been granted, although there is discretion on what services are funded, although as can be seen from Appendix A, the Council has a large number of contractual commitments.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.      It is anticipated that the number of road traffic accidents in the Vale, particularly those involving children and young people, will be reduced as a consequence of these initiatives.

24.      Public transport assists in the provision of a safe way for the population to travel throughout the Vale of Glamorgan.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.      The concept of equal opportunities is a fundamental principle that underlies all of this Council's policies.  Improvements to the way road safety is delivered in the Vale will benefit all members of the community including some of the most vulnerable road user groups. 

26.      Public transport is of particular importance to those areas of the community who may not have direct access to private transport, particularly the elderly, young people and the physically impaired.

27.      There are no particular Welsh Language issues associated with this grant and all promotional material produced in association with the supported schemes will be bilingual in accordance with Council Policy.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      The proposals recommended would improve the quality of life and enhance the safety of residents and visitors in the Vale.  The Schemes will also assist the Council achieve the U.K. Government and the Welsh Assembly Governments accident reduction, environmental and healthy living targets.

29.      The provision of reliable and efficient public transport services provides alternative means of travel, and ensures good accessibility for those without access to private transport. This links with the Council's objectives for social wellbeing and tackling disadvantages.

Policy Framework and Budget

30.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.      No specific Ward Member consultation has been undertaken as the report affects all Wards. However, some of the engineering measures may necessitate the need for statutory consultation in due course.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      Economy & Environment

Background Papers

Appendix A

 

Contact Officers

Clare Cameron - Principal Transport & Road Safety Officer - Tel: 01446 704768 (road safety matters)

Emma Reed - Operational Manager, Development Services - Tel. 01446 704673 (bus matters)

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Highways & Engineering

Finance - Senior Accountant

Legal - Committee Reports

Major Projects Officer

Principal Rural Regeneration Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

 

 

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