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 Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 3rd November 2014

 

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

 

Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 Direction 2nd October 2014

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet that on the 2nd October 2014, the Council received a Direction from the Welsh Government (WG) setting out the duties placed upon the Council for the provision of routes designed for walking and cycling, as well as Statutory Guidance for Delivering the Active Travel (Wales) Act which set out the processes and procedures to follow to deliver the requirements of the Act (see http://wales.gov.uk/topics/transport/walking-cycling/activetravelact/implementation/?lang=en.

2.         To make Members aware of the timescales being placed upon the Council to carry out the duties within the Direction.

Recommendations

1.         That Members note the contents of the Direction.

2.         That Members note the timescales in which this work is required to be carried out.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To advise Members of the Direction being placed upon the Council.

2.         To advise Members of the legal duties that have been placed on the Council within the specified timescale.

Background

3.         My report of July 2014 advised Members that WG was seeking Local Authority views on the guidance they intended to issue on both the design of walking and cycling schemes attributed to Active Travel routes and on the processes and procedures to deliver the requirements of the Act.  The WG has now issued a Direction to Local Authorities on how they expect this legal duty to be carried out. 

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The Statutory Guidance for the Delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 explains how WG expect local transport authorities to comply with the requirements within this Act. It also sets out the prescribed settlements that the WG has considered for Active Travel routes. 

3.         The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 aims to make active travel the most attractive option for most short journeys. Its purpose is to enable more people to undertake active travel, and to encourage people to not use their cars and use active travel where it is suitable for them to do so.

4.         The Programme for Government sets out the overall aims of the WG for this term. Increasing rates of walking and cycling will directly contribute to the Government’s aims, and will reflect how WG has put sustainable development, as a central organising principle, at the heart of government.

5.         The Act requires local authorities in Wales to produce active travel maps and deliver year on year improvements in active travel routes and facilities. It requires highway authorities in Wales to make enhancements to routes and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in all new road schemes and to have regard to the needs of walkers and cyclists in a range of other highway authority functions. It also requires the Welsh Ministers and local authorities to promote active travel journeys in exercising their functions under this Act.

6.         The evidence suggests that main reasons why people do not travel actively are safety, practicality, and cultural conventions.  The provisions of the Act are aimed at addressing some of these barriers by making infrastructure safer for people to use and providing information relating to safe walking and cycling routes.

7.         The Act makes specific provision as follows:

For local authorities to produce maps of existing active travel routes and related facilities in a local authority’s area (the existing routes map) and to submit these maps to the Welsh Ministers for approval within one year of the date of the Direction;

For local authorities to produce maps of the new and improved active travel routes and related facilities needed  to create integrated networks for active travel in a local authority’s area (the integrated network map) and to submit these maps to the Welsh Ministers for approval within three years of the date of the Direction;

Requiring  local  authorities  to  have  regard  to  integrated  network  maps  in preparing transport policies and to ensure that there are new and improved active travel routes and related facilities;

Requiring the Welsh Ministers and local authorities to report on active travel in Wales;

Requiring  the  Welsh  Ministers and  local  authorities, in carrying out certain functions under the Highways Act 1980, to take reasonable steps to enhance the provision made for walkers and cyclists and to have regard to the needs of walkers and cyclists in the exercise of certain other functions;

Requiring the Welsh Ministers and local authorities to exercise their functions under this Act so as to promote active travel journeys and secure new and improved active travel routes and related facilities.

8.         Annex A within the WG Statutory Guidance sets out the powers and duties that were created by the Act, and the bodies affected by the powers and the duties. Annex B within the Guidance sets out the Localities in which the duties apply, and Annex C states the features to be depicted on the existing route map.  Full details are provided in terms of the policy context for the Act, specific details to be included on maps, the method of publication and monitoring of performance.  Advice is also provided on taking forward schemes and the role of local authorities in working with landowners as well as promoting active travel.

9.         In addition, the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 will clearly have implications on all future planning applications and all new developments. It places a responsibility on Local Authorities to ensure that walking and cycling routes are embedded into any new planned developments, as well as implementing upgraded measures on the existing highway networks. It should be noted that this is already an approach taken by this Council when preparing new schemes and negotiating S106 Agreements.

10.      The Act requires two maps to be produced, the existing routes map and the integrated network map. The existing routes maps will show the routes within the designated areas that are suitable and appropriate for making active travel journeys. These routes could be on road, shared, segregated, or traffic-free. They can be for walkers or cyclists, or both. They will also show crossing points and the facilities that exist to support active travel on these routes, including cycle shelters / parking / storage and public toilets.  The existing routes maps will need to be accompanied by a statement of the extent to which, if any, routes do not meet the standards set out in the Design Guidance.

11.      The existing route maps are primarily intended to inform the public of the safe and suitable routes for active travel.  The public will need to have confidence that the routes on the maps are suitable for use; that the routes will not stop abruptly; and generally that the routes meet the standards set out in the design guidance.  The maps are intended to give pedestrians  and  cyclists  the  information  that  they  require  in  order  to  make  a decision about how and where to travel.  However, the existing route maps will also provide a valuable data source for local authorities in managing their active travel routes.

12.      The integrated network maps should set out the plans of the local authority for the next 15 years. The integrated network map is mainly a tool for local authorities to enhance their forward planning of active travel, enabling them to align their plans across different services.  It will be of interest to the wider public, and as such will need to be available and accessible. However, it is primarily meant to be used to support infrastructure development and planning.

13.      As indicated above in paragraph 7, the Act requires that the maps are submitted to the Welsh Ministers for approval. The existing routes maps must be submitted within a year of commencement of section 3 of the Act and the integrated network maps must be submitted within three years of commencement of section 4 of the Act.

25 September 2014 – Act Commences

25 September 2015 – Submission of the existing route maps

25 September 2017 – submission of the integrated network map and resubmission of the existing route map

25 September 2020 – resubmission of the existing route map and the integrated network map.

14.      To achieve best value for money, the Welsh Government has contracted an initial survey of active travel routes and facilities in the designated localities. There will also be a nationally available data management system. This system will collate and display this data, enable the local authorities to expand the data held, and create both their existing route maps and integrated network maps. However, this information is not likely to be made available to Councils until early next year, which will have a timing implication in terms of meeting deadlines for submissions of the existing route maps.

15.      The Council will be expected to monitor the effects of the Act and the specific schemes that will be delivered as a consequence of the Act. The Act requires local authorities to report on:

The change level of use of active travel routes every time they submit their existing route map for approval;

The costs they have incurred in creating and improving active travel infrastructure;

How they have delivered their functions in a way that promotes active travel.   

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.      Elements of the work to comply with the actions that are being proposed to deliver the requirements of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 within the timescales prescribed over a three year plan period, will require additional resource investment by the Council, and additional assistance may be required to deliver within timescales.  In the past, such resources have been sought from a combination of Grant and developer contributions.

17.      Funding to create and consult on the maps required as part of the duty in the Act has been provided by the Welsh Government to the sum of £14,000 for the Vale of Glamorgan Council as part of the local transport fund. Section 3 of the guidance sets out the mapping process in more detail, and includes how this funding can be spent.

18.      The duty to secure new and improved routes and facilities for walkers and cyclists will be funded by directing WG walking and cycling funding at making improvements to the routes identified on the integrated network maps. In advance of the creation of the integrated network maps, local authorities will continue to receive funding to deliver the active travel schemes set out in their Local Transport Plans. The costs of enhancing walking and cycling facilities in new road schemes will need to be considered as part of individual schemes, and planned for accordingly.

19.      Local authorities are encouraged to seek additional sources of funding to maximise the improvements they can make,  for example by developing partnerships with the private sector to support active travel in their area.  This could be in form of corporate sponsorship of schemes and infrastructure through advertising on the maps, which is already undertaken on many tourist and visitor maps, and through working with local employers to promote walking and cycling amongst their staff.

20.      The focus of active travel is on walking and cycling as a mode of transport rather than as a leisure activity.  However, some routes and facilities for active travel might also encourage recreational walking and cycling.   In these cases, it is expected by WG that local authorities should look for opportunities to draw on funding for such routes as leisure, tourism or sport facilities.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21.      Walking and cycling routes are key to sustainable accessibility and the reduction of single occupancy car movements, therefore having a positive impact on sustainability and climate change.

22.      There is a legal duty on Welsh Ministers within the Measure to promote sustainable measures of travel.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.      The guidance is published by the Welsh Ministers under sections 3(4), 4(5), 5(2) and 7(2) of the Act. The Delivery Guidance is one of two guidance documents issued under the Act: The other guidance document is the Design Guidance, which deals with technical standards for active travel routes and facilities. The Design Guidance will be essential to local authorities' decisions on whether a route is appropriate for active travel, and what steps should be taken to improve their routes. 

24.      Local authorities are required to have regard to the Delivery Guidance when exercising the functions to which the guidance relates. All references within the guidance to local authorities are to be taken as references to county and county borough councils. The duties under the Act are placed on the local authority generally, rather than a specific part of the local authority. This guidance is therefore for all parts of the local authority, not just for the local highways authority.  Where guidance is given in relation to sections 9 and 10 of the Act, that guidance is advisory and non-statutory (chapters 6 and 7 in the guidance).  The remainder of the guidance (Chapters 1-5 and the annexes) is statutory in nature.

25.      Parts of the Delivery Guidance will be of relevance to the Welsh Ministers, and other delivery partners, who also have duties under the Act.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.      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 delivering the initiatives within the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.  A safe and accessible transport network will have a positive impact on crime and disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      Activities to develop maps, and to create new or improved active travel routes and facilities, will affect some groups differently than others. To meet the duties under the Equalities Act 2010, local authorities must give consideration to these different effects and whether they can be minimised or removed.  The maps will need to show any obstacles along routes clearly to ensure that individuals can make an informed choice about the most appropriate route for them.

28.      Local authorities, as a matter of good practice, and to fulfil their duties under the Equalities Act 2010, should ensure that in all the stages of preparing and publishing the maps as many people as reasonably possible can access both the maps and the consultations.  Under the Act local authorities are also required to consult all persons who have requested to be consulted and any such persons it considers appropriate.

29.      As much local information and advice as is reasonably possible should be sought on the impact on disabled people and those with protected characteristics from the outset.  This includes information on the current use of routes by people whose characteristics affect their ability to travel actively, and specific routes where access is insufficient.  

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.      The schemes that will be identified within the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, once delivered, will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors in the Vale. 

31.      The provision of safe pedestrian and cycling routes provides alternative means of travel, and ensures good accessibility for those without access to private transport, links with the Council's objectives for social wellbeing and tackling disadvantages.

Policy Framework and Budget

32.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

33.      Ward Members have not been consulted as this report affects all Wards.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.      Economy & Environment.

Background Papers

Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

 

Contact Officer

Clare Cameron - Principal Transport & Road Safety Officer 01446 704768

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager Highways & Engineering

Finance Support Manager - Laura Davies

Legal - Committee Reports

Head of Performance & Development - Huw Isaac

Public Rights Of Way Officer

Planning Policy

Highway Development

Planning

Education

Social Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

 

 

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