To receive the draft public minutes and summary of the Sub-Committee meeting held on 3 December 2019.
The Committee received the draft public minutes and summary of the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee meeting held on 3 December 2019.
Beech Street Transport and Public Realm Improvements (page 17) – A Member commented on the decision taken by the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee on this matter, suggesting that it had brought to light an anomaly in the constitutional working of this grand Committee. She went on to state that the decision to proceed with the Beech Street zero emission project was reported here for information only, not for debate or approval, despite the fact that this was a Ward Committee, meaning that all wards were represented on it, and the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee was not.
The Member commented that there were no Members representing the Ward of Cripplegate on the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee at present although it was her view that it is, in part of Cripplegate, that residents will suffer increased pollution and decreased road safety as a consequence of this project. She added that children attending local schools will be particularly at risk from cars performing ‘U-turns’. The Sub Committee had information about the displacement of road traffic and pollution, but seemed to have ignored it.
The Member concluded by stating that, whilst she was aware that the Sub Committee has authority delegated to it by this Committee to act in accordance with its policies and strategies on certain matters, this did not alter the fact that they were able to make the decision to proceed without any representation from the Ward that will be adversely affected and had therefore effectively subverted the status of this Committee as a Ward Committee. She added that, in her view, democratic accountability is a problem in the City Corporation and that this undermining of the ward committee structure made this worse. She questioned whether the Chair would therefore support a motion at a future meeting of this Committee that the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee should refer all its major decisions to the Planning and Transportation Committee for debate and approval, in order to respect the status of this Committee as a Ward Committee.
The Town Clerk reported that the Terms of Reference of this Committee and its respective Sub Committees would be submitted to the next meeting for annual review. Any proposed changes would then require the approval of the Policy and Resources Committee in March 2020 and, ultimately, the Court of Common Council, when considering the White Paper in April 2020. It was also noted that a Governance Review was also about to be embarked upon and that these were the sort of points that it would be helpful for Members to feed in to this.
With reference to this particular scheme, the Chair highlighted that this matter had been discussed by both this Committee and the Policy and Resources Committee ahead of its approval by the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee. Member engagement on this had been actively encouraged from the outset, with local Ward Members sent direct email correspondence from the Department of the Built Environment’s Group Manager for Major Projects and Programmes. He continued by highlighting that this was an experimental scheme that would not commence until March 2020 and would be constantly monitored throughout in the same way that the ‘Bank on Safety’ scheme had been previously. If there were to be any adverse effects during the trial period, the scheme could simply be stopped. The Chair disagreed with the fact that the way in which this scheme had been progressed highlighted any sort of deficit in either this Committee or the Streets and Walkway Sub Committee’s decision making and stated that he was persuaded that both bodies had more than adequately discharged their duties.
The Chair added that any elected Member was able to make representations to any Committee or Sub Committee of the organisation with the permission of the Chairman.
A Member, also current Chairman of the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee agreed with the points made by the Chair of the grand Committee and added his reassurances by underlining that consultation would continue to take place throughout the experimental trial.
Another Member spoke to state that the question was not around Beech Street specifically but that this had been used as an illustration of concerns around what appeared to be a constitutional anomaly and the way in which future major projects might be managed similarly to this.
It was suggested that the point be considered and debated further at the appropriate meeting in February 2020.
A third Member spoke to disagree with the statement that there had been sufficient consultation around this specific scheme to date. He added that he had been concerned that the draft minutes of the December Streets and Walkways Sub Committee detailing their decision on this matter had not come before this Committee at their December meeting.
Officers spoke to reassure Members that dates for local consultation had now been fixed and that approximately 10,000 letters would be sent to relevant residents this week outlining the scheme and details of these consultation meetings. Lunchtime and evening sessions were set to take place on three separate dates in February 2020 and Officers had also recently attended a meeting of the Golden Lane Residents Association to outline plans. They added that they were happy to continue to meet with and present to any other relevant resident meetings as necessary.
The Chair added that both he and the Deputy Chairman were equally happy to hear any concerns that Members may have on this matter.
Soft-Surface Running Track (page 22) – The Member who had presented this proposal to the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee at their last meeting spoke again on the benefits of introducing the scheme. The Chairman of the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee took onboard the update.