Report of the Director of the Environment.
The Committee received a report of the Director of Environment updating Members on the Transport Strategy and the timetable for review.
Sheriff Christopher Hayward declared an interest in this item as a consultant to WSP and stated that he would not contribute to the discussion or vote on this item.
A Member expressed some concern that, by 2023, targets for various things such as the provision of charging points would have moved on considerably and stated that he felt that the Corporation should therefore be acting sooner rather than later. He questioned whether more could be done around the sustainability agenda in the interim.
Another Member stressed that there was no suggestion that the implementation of the Strategy would be halted. Officers clarified that there would be no delay in delivery as a result of the review period being extended and that this would be continuing as per the strategy to also include the action plan around electric vehicle charging. Officers underlined that they felt that there was enough certainty from the work carried out to date and feedback through the Recovery Taskforce that continuing and, where appropriate, accelerating areas of this work was the correct approach.
A Member reported that, at a recent Court meeting, Members had posed questions around taxis and Officers undertook to report back on this matter. She questioned what progress had been made on this. Officers clarified that the debate here had been around the pedestrian priority programme and the undertaking had been to consult with relevant Ward members in advance of any recommendations on this coming forward. It was confirmed that these meeting shad been scheduled and would take place in the week commencing 20 September and would provide these Members with the opportunity to set out their concerns and aspirations.
Another Member spoke to raise a query on taxi access to Bishopsgate and other areas outside of peak times and stated that he understood that the Chair was to meet with the Taxi Association to discuss the longevity of some of the current barriers that were in place. He confirmed that he had said at the time that he thought it was important to allow access to black cabs. Secondly, the Member questioned plans for moving from temporary to permanent barriers on the City’s bridges and a timescale for this in light of previous attacks. Officers responded to state that Bishopsgate was part of the TfL road network and that they were the highway authority for this. However, Officers were working with them on the next steps for the Bishopsgate scheme and indications at present were that they intended to move towards an experimental traffic order based on the current arrangement. Officers would continue to liaise with TfL around access on Bishopsgate and in terms of a best fit around the City Corporation’s projects, plans and aspirations. With regard to vehicle access more generally on those streets where this was otherwise restricted, Officers confirmed that this was to be reviewed as part of the review of the temporary measures delivered and conversations with Ward members before any of these were potentially made permanent.
With regard to security barriers on bridges, Officers requested that this be dealt with
in non-public session as part of the public realm security programme report already featured here.
Another Member took the opportunity to highlight that consultants had again recommended physical outdoor exercise facilities installed in the City and questioned whether, at some stage, Officers would therefore be bringing forward a report around how this idea could be implemented.
A Member spoke again to state that he was not suggesting that implementation of this plan would be paused, more that, in a new plan, certain aspects were likely to be significantly enhanced. In particular, the Member underlined that it was probably universally accepted that the previous plan was not sufficiently aggressive on things such as charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and was encouraged to hear that this could potentially be accelerated as he felt that the City were now falling behind other boroughs with this work.
The Chair highlighted that Appendix 3 detailed the organogram and governance structure and, in particular, the Strategy Board which was next meeting in October and was made up of leading experts who also regarded the City as leaders on this Officers clarified that there were plans to increase the number of publicly available charging points with a particular focus on rapid chargers for taxis and servicing vehicles and charging in residential car parks. It was also stressed that part of the reasoning for keeping strategies under review was to assess which areas might need to be delivered faster than others.
RESOLVED – That Members note the one-year extension of the current Transport Strategy review period to Spring 2023.
At this point, the Chairman sought approval from the Committee to continue the meeting beyond two hours from the appointed time for the start of the meeting, in accordance with Standing Order 40, and this was agreed.