Report of the Executive Director, Environment.
The Committee received a report of the Executive Director, Environment providing Members with assurance that risk management procedures in place within the Department of the Built Environment are satisfactory and that they meet the requirements of the corporate Risk Management Framework.
A Member underlined that the highest risk the Department had was around road safety and the issue of limited space in the City’s medieval street network versus the increased use of the highway by vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The Member expressed concern that this was simply being set out and then seemingly ignored when this Committee repeatedly enabled and approved proposals around greater business populations in the City. He argued that this should seriously be taken into account when it was highly relevant to an application. The Chair recognised the importance of this risk and highlighted that it was something that he kept a very close overview of. He added that this Committee had debated the reputational risks associated with not correctly addressing this and that he was sure that it was also foremost in the minds of Officers too when applications were brought forward. Officers reported that, from a transportation perspective, this was taken incredibly seriously and that they were fully committed to mitigating this risk as quickly as possible and, ultimately, to achieving ‘vision zero’ as set out within the Transport Strategy. Members were also informed that there was a deep dive report being prepared on this risk to go to the Audit and Risk Management Committee in October and it was suggested that this also be shared with this Committee for information.
Another Member supported the point made by the previous speaker and stressed that the whole purpose of having risk assessments and policies was so that the Committee could have a holistic view of issues to know what to do to ensure that the City worked well for everyone. She added that seemingly ignoring certain policies around, for example, on-street servicing could lead to certain risks like this one increasing.
The Chair once again refuted the point that policies were ignored. Officers reported that risk was very high on the agenda for both the Department and the Senior Leadership Team and that the risk register was reviewed on a regular basis as well as being considered when planning applications were received. It was recognised that the risk score in terms of road safety was still high and it was felt that this was appropriate until such time that the Transport Strategy had been delivered and vision zero achieved. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director felt that the suggestion that policies were ignored did a disservice to the schemes that this Committee had granted over the past year in particular and explained that, from the very outset of negotiations, planning officers always sought to maximise public realm and new routes. With specific reference to the recently approved developments at 70 Gracechurch, 55 Gracechurch, 2-3 Finsbury Avenue, 50 Fenchurch Street and City Place House, it was highlighted that all of these schemes provided new routes, wider routes, and a substantial increase in new public realm with a view to enabling pedestrian flows to be eased in recognised pressure points.
A Member noted reference to Cycle Skills Training and reported increasing issues with cyclists mounting pavements and behaving aggressively in the City. She therefore questioned how initiatives such as these were being promoted to help mitigate this. Officers highlighted that the training would be used as an opportunity to reinforce the need for safe and considerate cycling in the City. It was reported that there was also a Road Danger Reduction Partnership in place which included the City of London Police and focused on bringing forward various campaigns and engagement opportunities as well as enforcement.
Another Member reported that she had been taking every opportunity available to promote the Cycle Skills Training sessions but was frequently told that no one was aware of these. She suggested that an advertisement for this be included in the next newsletter or other relevant communication circulated to various stakeholders. The Chair suggested that this be taken forward by relevant Officers from the Department of the Built Environment and from Comms.
Another Member raised a question around electric scooters and the ongoing trial. She referred to a lot of scooters also using the pavement and questioned how users were notified of how these should be used. Officers reported that when users signed up to hire an e-scooter they would also receive repeated messaging around appropriate use. It was added that all scooters had individual numbers to make them readily identifiable and that some had already had their ability to hire them revoked by the operators due to continued inappropriate use or behaviour. Officers reported that not all e-scooters on the City’s streets were part of the trial with trail scooters tending to be smaller and heavily branded. It was underlined that private e-scooter use was still not legal on the street but that, dependant on any future decisions and national legislation around their use, there would no doubt be a focus on specific campaigns around this in conjunction with the City of London Police.
Another Member commented that rental bikes and scooters were frequently being left on the pavement, posing particular problems for those with sight issues and other disabled users.
RESOLVED – That Members note the report and the actions taken in the Department of the Built Environment to monitor and manage effectively risks arising from the department’s operations.