Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:

 

(a)         Petitions: To receive any petitions;

 

(b)         Written Questions: To consider any written questions;

 

(i)           Valley Gardens Phase 3- Councillor Wares

 

(ii)          Local Enterprise Partnership Funding- Councillor Wares

 

(iii)        Duke’s Mound- Councillor Wares

 

(iv)        Patcham Roundabout- Councillor Wares

 

(v)          North Street Air Quality- Councillor Wares

 

(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;

 

(i)           Valley Gardens- Councillor Fishleigh

 

(ii)          Air Pollution- Councillor Heley

 

(d)         Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.

 

 

Minutes:

(B)     QUESTIONS

 

(i)           Valley Gardens Phase 3

 

7.1         Councillor Wares put the following question:

 

“Please would the Administration confirm if it intends to pause the Valley Gardens Phase 3 project, re-consult with the City and have an open mind to changing the design away from the present approved and so-called “preferred option one”?

 

7.2         The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Thank you for question Councillor Wares. I am aware that you have made previous requests to pause the scheme and adopt a different design or road layout to the one which was agreed by this committee for consultation and included within the Business Case.

You will be aware that there has already been a consistent, technical appraisal of four options, which has been reported to this committee and resulted in the recommended Preferred Option that was subsequently agreed.

That option was considered to be the one that would best meet the project’s agreed objectives and would be robust enough to pass the tests of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Case criteria. It would therefore have the best chance of securing the £6 million pounds worth of Local Growth Fund money. That option was significantly amended by taking into account responses to the consultation and was subsequently considered and agreed by this committee in February to be progressed.

The committee also sought and secured a legal opinion that has enabled the project to progress in line with the committee’s decisions, and as a result of that the council has not made any decision to pause, as to do so is not warranted”.

 

7.3         Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:

 

“Could the Chair advise, why there is no risk of greater pollution and reducing air quality with all the traffic on the east side and why you feel the concerns of the tourist industry, resident groups and trading associations that this scheme will hurt the city’s economy are unfounded”

 

7.4         The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“I will send a written reply to your question subsequent to the meeting”.

 

(ii)          Local Enterprise Partnership Funding

 

7.5         Councillor Wares put the following question:

 

“In light of the fact that the Local Enterprise Partnership has stated that their Investment Committee have not yet met to consider if the Council had satisfied the conditions it had imposed on it and that no meeting has been arranged to consider the same and in its letter dated 28th May 2019 the LEP advised it will now wait until mediation between the Valley Gardens Forum and the Council is complete before it will meet, will the Administration please confirm that contrary to all previous reports and statements, that the Council does in fact not yet have the funding in place to deliver Valley Gardens Phase 3?”

 

7.6         The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“My understanding of the situation here is that all previous statements and reports about the funding for this project have been factual and accurate, whether they have been made by councillors or officers.  They have reflected the various stages of the process associated with the allocation of the £6 million pounds worth of Local Growth Fund money, and the decisions that have been made by the Local Enterprise Partnership (known as the LEP).  These have included the original decision of its Board in January this year to approve the project for funding and the release of the draft Funding Agreement.  Only once the final, signed Agreement is in place can the council begin to draw down the £6 million pounds, and this was due to be finalised by the LEP in March. 

However, since then, the LEP has advised the council that it has reviewed its processes and procedures for considering and allocating funding and has decided to review the project in line with those.  The outcome of that process has not been completed, and as you say, the LEP’s next decision about making the funding available to the council is now awaiting the outcome of the council officers’ next meeting with the Valley Gardens Forum”.

 

7.7         Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:

 

“Would you Chair agree, if we ask it of the Chief Executive, an audit being undertaken that reviews everything that has gone on, what was said and when and how things were presented in previous committees and include all copies of correspondence between the Council and the LEP that is somehow rarely or occasionally not shared with the committee members so that no confusion can possibly exist?”

 

7.8         On behalf of the Chair, the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture provided the following reply:

 

“Any of the correspondence that has gone between the LEP and council officers is available for committee members to see so I would want committee members to think we were hiding anything from you. If you would like us to share that correspondence, we would be very happy to do so. If you would like us to meet with you to take you through that correspondence and the chains of events that have led to various statements being made at this committee at different points in the process, we would be very happy to do so and perhaps that would avoid the need for a full audit of this issue”

 

(iii)        Duke’s Mound

 

7.9         Councillor Wares put the following question:

 

“Please could the Administration confirm when full, and this time proper, public consultation will take place in respect to the major junction proposals at Duke’s Mound?”

 

7.10       The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“The proposed changes to the junction of Duke’s Mound with Madeira Drive and the A259 (Marine Parade) are expected to take place within the highway boundary.  As such, there would be no statutory requirement for consultation on the design of the changes.  As they involve the introduction of traffic signals to enable the safe and efficient movement of people and vehicles and are likely to require changes to Traffic Regulation Orders, there will be formal public consultation on those changes which will allow people to express their views.

Although proposed as part of the Valley Gardens Phase 3 project, these changes are currently being developed as part of the Waterfront project, and the Enabling Works which are planned for the former Black Rock swimming pool site, as they are also an essential element of the infrastructure required for that project”.

 

7.11      Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:

 

“Dukes Mound, regardless of it being part of the Waterfront project has been confirmed by officers as being inextricably linked to the Valley Gardens Phase 3. The roundabout being turned to a T-Junction now relies on Duke’s Mound taking place to deal with the traffic issues that turning Madeira Drive into a one way will cause. It’s actually abhorrent if you believe there should not be any consultation. Would you reconsider the decision that you have just made to not consult with the public over the Duke’s Mound part of the project?”

 

7.12      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“I propose that we include this in the new stakeholders working groups who can discuss and get to some agreement on this”

 

(iv)        Patcham Roundabout

 

7.13      Councillor Wares put the following question:

 

“Would the Administration agree with me that enough time has now passed with Patcham roundabout looking neglected and that to overcome this embarrassment to our City it will make the matter a top priority. Would the Chair also agree that removing the adjacent floral welcome sign is a retrograde step in how we wish our City to be perceived and will instruct officers to reinstate it forthwith?”

 

7.14      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Cityparks are at the threshold of a major breakthrough to improving the Patchway Roundabout and are aware that this location has been of great concern to ward councillors.

Cityparks now have a credible sponsor who is seeking to improve and most critically maintain the roundabout. 

As the ‘Welcome’ Bed was originally planted with plastic plants and non-organic material, the bed was very low maintenance.  Eventually the sloping bed was planted with box hedging spelling the word Welcome and was surrounded by bedding plants.  Unfortunately, the Box succumbed to blight and perished.  A dwarf variety of Holly bush was planted in replacement of the box hedging but this too struggled; as the sloping bed has difficulties retaining water. 

Therefore, given this golden opportunity to improve the main roundabout, Cityparks are developing a proposal to ensure that area is well maintained and has an improved gateway arrival for the city. Officers will brief members of the committee when this proposal is more developed.

I very much recognise the importance of this location as a gateway to the city and work is underway to deliver a roundabout improvement which is more befitting for our great city and provides a more efficient use of resources”.

 

7.15      Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:

 

“Thanks very much, I’m very grateful for that confirmation, it’s very much welcomed. Regretfully, we’ve heard similar assurances that things are in the pipeline for many, many years. In fact, five years since the roundabout was destroyed by Highways England. Would you kindly commit officers to ensure that this is dealt with in this calendar year so that there is no drift beyond the end of this year?”

 

7.16      On behalf of the Chair, the Assistant Director, City Transport provided the following reply:

 

“I will give my assurance something will be delivered this calendar year”

 

(v)         North Street Air Quality

 

7.17      Councillor Wares put the following question:

 

“In light of the report that outside of London, North Street is the 7th most polluted street in the Country, please could the Labour/Green coalition confirm what action it intends to take to resolve this alarming situation. Will you consider for example rewidening the street so that buses can pass each other or perhaps until a solution is found, dramatically limit the number of buses permitted in North Street at any one time?”

 

7.18      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Thank you for your question Councillor Wares.  I understand that the report that you are referring to which refers to North Street in the city centre was compiled by Friends of the Earth. 

As you probably are aware, the council has a number of air quality monitoring sites in the city and publishes data on its website in an Annual Status Report.    Like most data, air quality levels can be measured and reported in different ways.  Most monitoring locations are located in places to assess residential exposure over a calendar year or longer. However, I am advised that the monitor in North Street near the Clock Tower measures different levels, and its data are understood to be those which have been used in the report.  That monitor measures people’s hourly exposure to nitrogen dioxide to help understand where people on pavements are likely to be exposed to higher levels of pollution for brief periods.  Whilst acknowledging that hourly standard in that location is exceeded, the monitor does indicate that the most substantial improvement has been achieved here, compared to all other monitoring carried out in the city.  This shows that measures or changes that have been introduced in recent years are having an effect; and a lot of the credit for that can be given to the significant investment made by the city’s bus companies, who we work in very close partnership with, who have adopted and invested in advanced engine technology and driver training to reduce emissions.   Our planned work with taxi operators on electric vehicles and charging points will also help.

I recognise that North Street is one of many streets in the city which is constrained by high buildings, and it is used by significant numbers of people and vehicles.  We therefore have to recognise that there is a limited area within which everyone can move safely, and there is some congestion at certain times of the day.  We certainly have no plans to widen the road in North Street by reducing pavement widths or loading areas for delivery vehicles.  However, we will continue our partnership working with all public transport operators, which includes taxis, and other stakeholders to find solutions to manage traffic in this busy city centre area and reduce harmful emissions to deliver better air quality for everybody”.

 

7.19      Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:

 

“Are you saying that we don’t have an air pollution issue in North Street that we need to address or that the levels we do have right now are manageable and we will just carry on as we are?”

 

7.20      On behalf of the Chair, the Assistant Director, City Transport provided the following reply:

 

“Yes, we do acknowledge there are air quality issues in North Street and we have an active air quality monitor in there. Over the last five to ten years we’ve actually seen a dramatic improvement in air quality levels as outlined in the Chair’s response to your question. The advancement in technology and the Council’s partnership with the bus operators have actually secured significant the ability to improve and upgrade the bus fleet to cleaner vehicles with much lower emissions. In recognition of that and the transport policies and initiatives coming through in LTP5, there will be a number of initiatives to continue to look to improve air quality, reduce harmful emission and improve the city in terms of having a cleaner, greener environment and commit to the carbon reduction commitment to be carbon neutral by 2025”.

 

(C)     LETTERS

 

(i)           Valley Gardens

 

7.21      The Committee considered a Letter from Councillor Fishleigh that relayed the concerns of residents in Rottingdean Coastal ward regarding the traffic impact of the Valley Gardens scheme and requested a Members Briefing to provide a clear understanding of the issues around Valley Gardens.

 

7.22      The Chair provided the following response:

 

“Although it is located in the city centre, it is important that residents are aware of significant projects like this one.  There is plenty of information about the plans for the corridor on the council’s website, and the progress that has been made has also been regularly reported via traditional and social media as well as in the media.  Phase 3 of the project, which includes the A259 junctions at the Palace Pier and Duke’s Mound has been considered and discussed by councillors on a number of occasions at council meetings are there has been significant public representation at those meeting. 

Both junctions will include the introduction of traffic signals to enable the safe and efficient movement of people and vehicles at this junction, and assessments have included an analysis of road safety improvements and forecast vehicle journey times.  The planned changes will include the use of technologically advanced traffic signal equipment, which can respond to different demands during the day, and will help manage the movement of people and vehicles and therefore minimise congestion and any of its associated effects.  The changes to the Duke’s Mound junction will also help to accommodate the planned redevelopment of the former Black Rock swimming pool site as part of the council’s Waterfront project.

The website also provides access to all the committee reports and meeting minutes which show that the project has been developed openly, scrutinised thoroughly and also taken into account the results of the consultation that has been carried out”. 

Finally, I am sure that we can arrange a briefing for members on this important project and I’m sure this will be beneficial for newer members of the council.

I will ask the Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Culture to consider how and when this can be arranged.

 

7.23      RESOLVED- That the Committee note the Letter.

 

(ii)          Air Pollution

 

7.24      The Committee considered a Letter from Councillor Heley that requested a report be brought to Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, exploring the potential to introduce an annual Cleaner Air Day from 2019 and that report give consideration of suitable roads to be closed, the most practicable date, any economic and environmental costs and effects, both short and long term.

 

7.25      The Chair provided the following response:

 

“I fully understand and share your concerns about air quality in the city and the harmful effects that high levels can have on our residents and people who work in, or even visit, the city.  Thank you for also highlighting to me and the committee that it is still to receive a report on this matter, following its consideration of the Notice of Motion in March last year, after it was originally presented at Full Council. 

In the interim, we will have the benefit of the results of the annual air quality review that is carried out by officers and that will provide us all with more information about the progress and change that has occurred since last year. However, I do acknowledge your desire to make some quick progress and your suggestion about activities that could be considered for the 2019 Car Free Day in September is certainly one that can be explored.  I will ask the council officers who participate in the Air Quality Management Board to consider the potential opportunities that may be available to do so within existing projects and programmes that are currently funded.  Looking ahead, I will also ask officers to consider the opportunities available to bring a report to this committee before the end of this year.  In doing so, two of the key issues that would need to be considered within a future report are the benefits of focussing activities just on a single day or days, and the financial implications of the decisions that are proposed.  If we are to make a commitment to embark on any new, specific programme of events or activities that help raise awareness and encourage action, it will need an appropriate budget and the staff resources to develop and deliver it. In previous years, the delivery of individual or area wide road closures for such an event have taken a year in planning with dedicated staff and a budget of £50,000.

I am more than happy to work with all the committee members to address and improve air quality in the city and look at all the options available to reduce harmful emissions from transport, especially road traffic.  Our bus and taxi operators are showing great willing in this area and the growing interest and uptake in electric cars and vans in the city is a really exciting prospect that we want to facilitate by increasing the number of charging points.  Many of the opportunities that we have to improve our air will also help contribute towards the reduction of carbon emissions in order to meet our aim of making the city carbon-neutral by 2030”. 

 

7.26      Councillor Heley asked if a commitment could be made to bring a report to the next committee meeting.

 

7.27      The Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture clarified that the requests were very detailed and there may be insufficient time to bring a report to the next meeting however, this would be reported as soon as practicable.

 

7.28      RESOLVED- That the Committee note the Letter.

Supporting documents:

 


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