(b) Minutes -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 5th February, 2014 be accepted as a correct record.
As agreed at the meeting of the Forum on 5th February, 2014, Ms. Clare Cameron, Principal Transport Safety Officer had been invited to provide an update with regard to the Active Travel Programme. Ms. Cameron informed the Forum that a response to the Welsh Government consultation on the design guidance and statutory guidance for the delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 needed to be formulated by 4th August, 2014. A report would be going to Cabinet on 28th July with regard to the consultation’s response. The consultation document from Welsh Government provided design guidance and delivery guidance and the Forum was informed that Welsh Government wanted a quick turnaround for implementation in Autumn 2014.
Members were informed that the Vale of Glamorgan Council would have a duty with regard to education, highway development and public rights of way and that the guidance would be all encompassing, not just with regard to transportation.
Ms. Cameron informed the Forum that the Authority would need to look at the recommended measures in detail and consider how it would enforce this guidance on developers. There would be implications for future planning developments as there would be a legal duty to take this guidance into consideration as part of the planning process. The Authority had one year to develop an Active Travel map, for which it had received some funding; existing and proposed routes needed to be detailed on the map and all routes would need to be audited.
Criticisms of the guidance included the view that it related more to urban rather than rural areas; too much detail was required within the timescale, which included street lighting, street furniture, location of dropped kerbs, shops, etc. Ms. Cameron confirmed that the Authority would be able to make representations within the consultation document with regards to these issues.
The Authority would need to identify Active Travel routes throughout the Vale of Glamorgan and implement infrastructures on these routes for both walking and cycling traffic with a view to channelling traffic onto these routes. Furthermore, the Authority would need to upgrade the Active Travel routes to a high standard with Sustrans recommending upgrading the most direct routes.
Ms. Cameron informed the Forum that some mapping had already been carried out as part of the Local Development Plan (LDP), yet these had not been audited, and they were also looking to include distances on the maps. The Authority had three years to implement the Active Travel routes; however, there was the possibility that there might not be any of these routes within the Vale of Glamorgan. No baseline data was currently available from the Welsh Government and there were concerns with regards to the deadline as they required quality data in order to commence the monitoring and evaluation of the Active Travel routes. The authority did not want the countdown to start until they had received compatible data from Welsh Government.
Following a question, the Forum was informed that other local authorities also had concerns with regards to the high level of data involved and the amount of resources needed to deliver the requirements of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 within the prescribed timescales. Ms Cameron advised that they may only pick six routes and the Authority would need to justify why they had not chosen certain routes. The focus of the first two years may well be on Barry and subsequently expand to the other areas in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Mr. Simpson queried whether once an Active Travel route had been identified, the Authority would need to identify and implement improvements for this route. In response, Ms. Cameron advised that this was the case; however, the Authority could request funding for this work yet this would be dependent on the identification of works required. Another criticism of the guidance was that it was geared towards cyclists rather than walkers and the Active Travel routes had different criteria to the Safe Walking Routes to Schools Guidance. Collaboration with other authorities with regard to the consultation document would also be taken into account in the submission.
In response to a query regarding whether routes for the elderly and disabled would be taken into account, Ms. Cameron informed the Forum that individuals could also put forward their own representations via the Vale of Glamorgan website.
Following a query from Mr. McMillan, it was confirmed that any candidate routes selected would need to be within the settlement boundary Welsh Government had chosen in order to meet the set criteria, in this case, within an urban area. Welsh Government had stipulated that bids could not be put forward unless land issues had been resolved.
Ms. Cameron informed the Forum that there were not a lot of cycle routes in the Vale of Glamorgan and that there had been a shift to a more urban focus geared towards commuting rather than leisure travel.
The Chairman requested whether the Secretary could circulate the report once it had been to Cabinet and was informed that this could be arranged
In reference to the minutes from the last meeting, Mr. Teague informed the Forum that the Steering Group on Promoting Walking in the Rural Vale had recently met and that the proposals for way-marking had been discussed. The identified walks would be tested and this was possibly something that the Forum could assist with as a quick turnaround was required. The documents currently only existed in hard copy; however, the Group was looking at constructing a website to serve as a â€˜One Stop Shop’ which would be hosted by the Tourism Department.
The Chairman asked how many routes were accessible for the disabled and was informed that currently only 6 gold routes existed, which were mainly coastal with a couple being inland and only one was accessible to wheelchairs.
Mr. McMillan reconfirmed that members of the Local Access Forum were able to assist the Public Rights of Way Team with route repairs, feedback etc., and was informed by Mr. Teague that whilst the Public Rights of Way team facilitated volunteer schemes in partnership with Valeways, such as adopt a path and work parties, co-ordination of volunteers outside of particular programmes was not run directly by Rights of Way at present. He further informed the Forum that, in order for a volunteer scheme to be effective, there needed to be a co-ordinated approach. Risk assessment reviews, including providing for volunteer services, were ongoing as well as a review of the Countryside Service. It was noted that volunteering was currently taking place within the wider countryside service and it was anticipated that volunteers would be supported to a greater degree as a result of the restructure.
Further discussion took place with regards to volunteers and possible assistance with regards to maintenance issues etc., Mr. Teague informed the Forum that they could reassess the situation with regards to direct support of volunteers after the restructure of the Countryside Service, however, at this point volunteering to address practical works was delivered through schemes in partnership with other organisations only.
The Forum was informed that there was a requirement to send hard copies of the Definitive Map to all Town and Community Councils, Ordnance Survey and that a further copy would be kept on deposit in the Record Offices. Mr. Simpson asked whether hard copies were distributed every time there was a revision to the map and it was confirmed that this was not the case and that any revisions made by Modification Orders would have to be read in conjunction with the Definitive Map held by the Public Rights of Way Team. Mr. Teague confirmed that they were hoping to publish the Definitive Map in Autumn 2014 and were currently acquiring quotations for publication.
Mrs. Hartrey asked whether all new routes would need to be accessible to wheelchairs and cyclists and it was confirmed that this was unlikely to be the case, particularly for wheelchair access and that the appropriateness of traffic and the connections beyond would dictate whether wheelchair access would be required, for example, at Gileston the path led to fields, with stiles and a shingle beach. Furthermore, the Highways Act test stipulated that new or revised routes had to be no less convenient to use than the previous route and there were some DDA requirements within guidance produced by DEFRA.
The Chairman informed the Forum that they had experienced a very informative walk around Millbrook Road in Dinas Powys prior to the Forum meeting which had highlighted land ownership problems, which they had been previously unaware of.
The Chairman, in referring to the NRW review of Local Access Forum Working Practices, referred to there being a report to the forthcoming Local Access Forum Conference on 30th July, 2014. He would be attending and, as neither the Vice-Chairman nor Secretary were able to do so, has asked that any other Members wishing to deputise inform him accordingly.