(a) By invitation, Steve Lakin of Central Bedfordshire Council will attend the meeting to give an update in respect of Cycling.
(b) To consider any other matters relating to highways/transport (if appropriate).
By invitation, S Lakin of Central Bedfordshire Council attended the meeting primarily to give a presentation on the revised Green Wheel but also to provide an update on transport schemes arising from recent new Government funding.
The Committee received a report summarising the Government scheme, which had been announced on 23 May 2020 to protect and increase transport services, level up infrastructure and regenerate local economies. The Emergency Active Travel Fund would support local transport authorities in producing walking and cycling facilities in two phases: initial funding for the installation of temporary projects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and a second phase of funding to support the creation of longer term projects. For Central Bedfordshire Council, the final allocation of phase 1 funding was £223,454 and indicative funding for phase 2 amounted to £800,000.
Mr Lakin advised that the initial tranche of funding, for the rapid introduction of pop-up facilities, had been received and that a number of projects were underway across the Central Bedfordshire area. Leighton-Linslade had benefitted from the funding through increased pedestrian capacity into town from Hockliffe Street and Bridge Street, the temporary pedestrianisation of the High Street and a timed closure of Bassett Road, at the request of Mary Bassett Lower School, to assist with social distancing for pupils. The success of those measures would be monitored and would be key to accessing the remainder of the funding.
In terms of the next phase of projects starting this Autumn, Central Bedfordshire councillors and town councils across Central Bedfordshire had been invited to share intelligence as to where in their locale, social distancing was proving problematic. The focus would remain on measures that enabled people to walk or cycle for local journeys, especially where previously their trip would have used a passenger or public transport service.
Mr Lakin gave the Committee a preview of a presentation due to the given to the Green Wheel working group. The Green Wheel had originally been developed in 2008/09 and had been followed by a Green Infrastructure Plan in 2014. The working group had been updating the plan over recent months and the revised draft had previously been presented to the Ouzel Valley Park steering group and the Partnership Committee.
The Green Wheel updated plan aimed to link publicly accessible routes and green spaces in and around the town, with an inner rim (around the town centre) and an outer rim (leading to surrounding countryside) linked by a series of “spokes” (linear paths and corridors). Measures to improve existing routes were ongoing and a particular focus was the development of new routes from the new housing developments, as well as improving access to schools, for example the Scholars Way spoke leading between the two upper schools.
A number of specific questions were asked and answered regarding particular routes including Woodman Close, Hockliffe Road, Northcourt, Parsons Close, Bunkers Lane and access from the new Roman Gate development through to the retail park on Grovebury Road. The possible extension of the current road closure on Billington Road was discussed but would be partly dependant on other highways works. The point was raised that traffic flow on Grovebury Road was affected by the number of lorries which stopped outside premises along the road.
A question was raised regarding partnersip working as set out in the 2011 Central Bedfordshire Cycling Strategy. Liaison with cycling groups and forums across Central Bedfordshire was ongoing.
A question was raised regarding the potential presented by the Government funding for more radical change, such as reallocation of road space and it was suggested that the Town Council give this greater consideration. It was noted that the town plan for 2011-2016, Big Plan II, had contained a list of cycling related aspirations. These aspirations now formed part of a Town Council “partnership lobby list” due to be endorsed by the Council at a future meeting, to ensure they were not lost.
RESOLVED to note the report and the presentation.
Mr Lakin was thanked for attending the meeting.