Agenda Item No 15
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Cabinet Meeting: 30 July, 2018
Report of the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport
Funding and Delivery of the Greenlinks Community Transport Service
Purpose of the Report
- To agree the continuation of Sustainable Transport Planning Contributions (Section 106 funding) for the Greenlinks Community Transport Service until 31 March 2021.
- That the Greenlinks Community Transport Service continues to be funded by Section 106 Sustainable Transport Contributions until 31 March 2021.
- That the contributions highlighted in Appendix D are used to fund the service in 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- To continue to provide a flexible means of passenger transport for those who cannot easily access other forms of public transport in a cost effective and reliable manner.
- To continue to provide the Greenlinks service until 31 March 2021.
- Community Transport is used to cover a variety of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) schemes carrying passengers in a number of ways. DRT only operates if users have requested the service in advance. Community Transport, with the use of accessible vehicles, has traditionally provided transport for the mobility impaired, either through disability and/or age, who cannot access conventional public transport. However, it is also used to provide DRT which caters for geographically, socially or economically isolated users of all ages. It normally offers affordable fares and services and is operated pursuant to permits issued under Section 19 or 22 of the Transport Act 1985. The service is often operated using a mixture of paid and volunteer drivers as well as back office staff.
- Not for Profit organisations, such as the Council, can obtain permits under Sections 19 and 22 of the Transport Act 1985. These permits provide exemption to the organisations to hold a Public Service Vehicles (PSV) operator's license when providing public transport for a charge. These permits also allow drivers with category D1 entitlement on their driving licence to drive people who pay individual fares, providing the vehicles have no more than 16 passenger seats.
- Vehicles operating Section 19 permits cannot carry members of the general public, and can only carry persons who meet the identified classifications of the permit. One such classification is passengers who are members of the organisation or body (for example the Greenlinks operated by the Council) holding the permit. These permits can be used on vehicles up to 16 passenger seats. Passengers using this service pay a small fare to do so.
- Vehicles operating Section 22 permits can be used on local bus services on a not for profit basis and they can carry members of the general public. Vehicles must have a minimum of nine passenger seats. Local bus services can range between fixed routes and on-demand flexible routes within a specified area. These local services must be registered with the Traffic Commissioner a minimum of twenty eight days in advance of first day of operation. Passengers using these services pay a small fare or are able to use their Welsh Government concessionary passes.
- Greenlinks runs services under both Section 19 and 22 permits. The Section 22 services are the on-demand G4 (Thursday service running between, Llantwit Major and Culverhouse Cross serving coastal villages) and G1 (Monday to Friday service running between St Athan, Cowbridge and Bridgend and surrounding rural villages). Areas such as Treoes, Ewenny, Corntown, Colwinston, Llangan, Craig Penllyn would be without a week day public transport service if the G1 did not exist.
- Greenlinks was originally funded by European monies made available via the Rural Development Plan (RDP) and was fully funded from January 2015 by Section 106 sustainable transport contributions.
- Greenlinks operates with 13 volunteer drivers, 1 paid driver and 2 members of office staff. There is currently a fleet of 7 vehicles, four accessible minibuses and 3 accessible cars.
- The service is operational Monday to Friday, between 8am and 5pm, for individuals. It is also available for group bookings on weekend and evenings.
- Members of the scheme can make a request for transport up until midday the day before they wish to travel. Requests are then considered and schedules drawn up based on the vehicles and drivers available with the aim of accommodating as many passengers as possible.
- In 2016-2017, the service accommodated over 500 individuals and 24 groups, culminating in 13,300 passenger journeys. In 2017-2018, there were approximately 1900 individual members of the scheme and 100 group members. During the year a total of 10,740 passenger journeys were made.
- There is an existing partnership between Greenlinks and Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern (DPVC) with agreement to share use of an accessible car. DPVC use the vehicle in the mornings to cater for local residents who need to access Dinas Powys Medical Centre, which is located at the top of Murch Road with no local bus service provision. In the afternoons the vehicle is used by the Greenlinks team. This partnership has proved very successful and provided a much needed transport link for those who would otherwise not be able to get to the medical centre.
- Greenlinks currently fills a number of gaps in the Vale of Glamorgan public transport network, specifically in the rural Vale and where local bus services no longer exist. This has been evidenced by the creation of the G1 service following the demise of the village bus service in 2013. More recently, Greenlinks has been promoted as an alternative means of public transport following the cessation of commercially run local bus service 90 (Barry - Culverhouse Cross) and the reduction in frequency of the commercially run X91 service (Llantwit Major - Rhoose Culverhouse Cross - Cardiff).
- The scheme caters for a variety of different users, including those with disabilities such as blindness, partially sighted, wheelchair users and those who use mobility aids allowing them access to local amenities which they otherwise would not be able to attend.
- More recently the scheme has undertaken a joint project with Social Services, which received Welsh Government funding, enabling Young Carers to access youth services by providing a transport option for them. Previous to this young carers were not able to attend these services as they had no transport to get them there. Greenlinks provided the service from a number of areas in the Vale of Glamorgan on a Wednesday evening in order to cater for these young people.
Relevant Issues and Options
- Following a previous Cabinet Resolution Cabinet Meeting 27 January, 2014 (Minute No. C2177), Section 106 Sustainable Transport contributions are top sliced by up to 25% of support Greenlinks and other public transport services. This resolution ended on 31 March 2018.
- To provide background, the Council's Adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Planning Obligations was adopted in 2017 and updated the adopted 2012 SPG in line with the adopted Local Development Plan (2011-2026). The SPG requires all new residential development (above a threshold of 10 dwellings), and new commercial development (above a threshold of 1000sqm floor space/ 1 Ha site) to contribute towards Sustainable Transport. Where appropriate and having regard to development viability, the SPG currently requires a contribution of £2,300 per dwelling or £2,300 per 100sqm of floor space. These contributions, once received, can be used to provide infrastructure which provides or improves access for pedestrians and cyclists, and also enhances public transport provision and infrastructure.
- In the last 2 financial years, the Council has continued to secure and receive significant Section 106 Sustainable Transport contributions. In 2016/17, the Council secured £1.48million, and received c. £800k. In 2017/18, the Council secured £1,15million and received c. £530k.
- It is therefore recommended that Section 106 Sustainable Transport Contributions continue to support and fund the scheme for Greenlinks in full, and any other public transport services partially for the financial years of 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21.
- In the last 2 financial years it has not been appropriate to top slice (25%) of all Section 106 Sustainable Transport contributions in practice. This is primarily due to the high level of sustainable transport contributions the Council has received, which would have generated a balance for Greenlinks and other public transport services which would have been surplus to demand, and which would have taken the service beyond the legal timeframe the Council has to spend the sustainable transport contributions (usually defined as 5 years within the Section 106 Agreement).
- Furthermore, in certain circumstances, top slicing a Sustainable Transport contribution would have impacted upon the viability and deliverability of an essential infrastructure project.
- It is therefore suggested that, unlike the previous 25% top-slice approach, Section 106 Sustainable Transport contributions are considered individually upon receipt, in accordance with the Section 106 Protocol for Implementation on a site by site basis.
- The budget forecast for Greenlinks for 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 is set out in Appendix A. A total of £399,239 in Section 106 funding is required to fund the service up until 31st March 2021. £113,070 has already been allocated for 2018/19. £286,169 is thus required to make up the shortfall.
- Appendix D of this report highlights developments where Section 106 Sustainable Transport contributions (received or due in imminently) can be allocated to fund the Greenlinks scheme. The allocations have been the result of a review of the service and where existing members are residents. The total allocation suggested equals £286,400, which will cover the service up until 31 March 2021. Any underspend can be slipped into future financial years.
- There is a risk that the Council will not receive all of the contributions set out in Appendix D, for example, if a development does not proceed. However, if this were to be the case, the Council's Senior Planner (Development Contributions), in partnership with the Council's Passenger Transport Manager and Finance Support Manager, will review the Section 106 account and continue to ensure that sufficient funding is allocated for the next 3 financial years via the Section 106 Protocol for Implementation.
- Agreeing to continue Section 106 funding until 31 March 2021 will fit in with transport team's plan of continuing to deliver an expanded Greenlinks service, work with other departments and continue to provide a much needed volunteer driven scheme.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- The cost of delivering a Greenlinks scheme for the next three financial years is identified at Appendix A to this report. Fares for the services are based on a zonal pricing system and are attached at Appendix B. In addition Appendix C shows group hire charges.
- The cost breakdown in Appendix A includes paying volunteer drivers expenses, paid drivers wage, funding the two members of staff dedicated to running the service as well as all vehicle costs (garage service level agreements, repairs, fuel, etc.). The breakdown does not allow for vehicle depreciation costs. However, all vehicles were funded by grant monies or asset renewal money and have no finance outstanding.
- While there is no replacement vehicle budget for the Greenlinks fleet the scheme does have access to the Council vehicle replacement fund should a replacement be required. However, with the age of the current fleet it is not envisaged that any vehicle would need replacing before March 2021. In addition any future vehicle that would be purchased as part of the Greenlinks fleet could be done so via "green" grants that are available with the ambition of operating low emission passenger transport vehicles within the Vale of Glamorgan.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- The provision of a demand responsive service assists in the reduction of unnecessary mileage and provides a different, more sustainable and viable mode of public transport.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- The running and maintenance of the vehicles will continue to comply with legislation as identified in the terms and conditions of the Section 19 and Section 22 permits and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) requirements for operating a public service vehicle. This involves daily visual checks on the vehicles completed by drivers ensuring the vehicle is fit for purpose, six weekly safety checks, services and MOT's as required.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- The Greenlinks service offers fully accessible vehicles with some services running door to door meaning residents can travel easily regardless of any mobility impairments.
- Greenlinks can be linked to Well-being Outcome 2: An environmentally responsible and prosperous Wales, objective 4: promoting sustainable development and protecting our environment, by providing accessible public transport solutions for all residents in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Policy Framework and Budget
- This is a matter for executive decision by the Cabinet
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- No specific Ward Member consultation has taken place as this service is relevant across the Vale of Glamorgan
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- Environment and Economy
Adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance Planning Obligations (2017)
Appendix A - Greenlinks Budget Forecast - 2018-2021
Appendix B - Greenlinks Zonal Fares
Appendix C - Greenlinks Group Hire Charges
Appendix D - Greenlinks Funding - 2018/19 and 2019/20
Kyle Phillips - Group Manager Transport Services
Senior Planner (Development Contributions) / Section 106 Officer
Accountant - Neighbourhood Services and Transport
Legal - Committee Reports
Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services