Venue: Remote Meeting held via Microsoft Teams
Contact: Jonathan Spencer 01609 780780
That the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
The Chairman paid tribute to County Councillor Richard Welch, who had died in January 2021. He had been a County Councillor for 12 years serving first on the Transport and Telecommunication Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee and then on the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee from its inception.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest to note.
Public Questions or Statements
Members of the public may ask questions or make statements at this meeting if they have delivered notice (to include the text of the question/statement) to Jonathan Spencer of Legal and Democratic Services (contact details below) no later than midday on xxx xxx 20xx. Each speaker should limit themselves to 3 minutes on any item. Members of the public who have given notice will be invited to speak:-
· at this point in the meeting if their questions/statements relate to matters which are not otherwise on the Agenda (subject to an overall time limit of 30 minutes);
· when the relevant Agenda item is being considered if they wish to speak on a matter which is on the Agenda for this meeting.
If you are exercising your right to speak at this meeting, but do not wish to be recorded, please inform the Chairman who will instruct those taking a recording to cease while you speak.
A statement had been received from a member of the public (Mr Breakell) which was taken at agenda item 6.
Corporate Director's update
The verbal update of the Corporate Director - Business and Environmental Services.
Karl Battersby provided the following update.
NY Highways – the teckal company was on course to go live on 1 June 2021. Looking ahead there was a need to make sure that NY Highways not only ensured a smooth transition of service delivery from Ringway but looked at how things could be done better. Early on, an example of this would involve looking at the winter management programme to see what had worked well last winter and what could be done better in future years.
Active travel – the County Council had been successful in securing just over £1 million for four active travel fund schemes: three in Harrogate and one in Whitby. Virtual meetings had been held on those schemes, with a good turnout for the Harrogate meetings but lower attendance at the Whitby meeting. The Harrogate scheme relating to Outlands Drive had proved controversial and so the County Council had sought to amend the scheme, particularly in terms of the one-way nature of that scheme, and was now into the detailed design stage.
The County Council was also managing the Transforming Cities Fund schemes across North Yorkshire. Initial consultation had been carried out with many responses received back. Comments were currently being analysed to feed into the next stage of consultation before delivery of the schemes took place.
Kex Gill (A59 realignment) – all planning issues had now been resolved and the County Council was about to commence the procurement process to secure a contractor. The side road orders would be published shortly and the acquisition of the land.
A19 (Selby district) - the County Council was working with Balfour Beatty to finish the works as early as possible and the hope was to finalize the program in the next two to three weeks. Working days had been lost due to recent inclement weather but the County Council was confident that they would be clawed back as a result of introducing seven day working that had been carried out fairly recently on the scheme.
Community renewal fund – the County Council was marshalling bids on behalf of all North Yorkshire districts for submission to government. The County Council was also looking at what it wanted to submit to the fund. Options included whether to group specific schemes together under one theme, particularly around transport, so that the county as a whole could get greater economies of scale. The bid would need to go through to the County Council’s Executive to meet the deadline of 18 June 2021 for submissions to government.
Joint Waste Authority – the County Council had entered into an agreement to formalise the informal partnership that it had with City of York Council in respect of a Joint Waste Authority. Work was also underway to examine what the partnership should be doing in relation to responding to the government's waste strategy. The government had recently published three consultations in that regard ... view the full minutes text for item 121.
The written report of the Corporate Director - Business and Environmental providing an overview of the Air Quality Strategy and responses received from the draft strategy public consultation.
Simon Moss presented the report.
Simon Moss explained about how the development of the Air Quality Strategy linked into the County Council’s policy framework including the Local Transport Plan and the Council Plan.
He then went on to explain about the consultation process for the draft Air Quality Strategy for North Yorkshire. The aim of the strategy was to protect and where necessary improve air quality. In order to achieve that ambition there were four key objectives, which he went on to detail, as set out in the document.
The consultation had been undertaken in four phases each involving different respondents, including members of the public and external stakeholders such as the local planning authorities and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). The consultation period had been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of technical responses had been provided including from members of the public who had in-depth knowledge.
Simon Moss noted that there had to be a balance of what was possible in achieving the best air quality against what was realistic to do so. Three quarters of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the County Council’s ambition, and generally speaking, they felt that the current situation regarding air quality in the county was clearly explained and that the roles between the County Council and district councils was made clear.
In relation to the objectives, only 42% of respondents thought that they were realistic and achievable. A spectrum of responses had been received from people saying the strategy was over ambitious to others saying that it was not ambitious enough.
The consultation had provided some useful suggestions for actions that had previously not been included such as tackling emissions from burning moorland heather and looking at domestic heating as a source of pollutants in detail.
The next steps would be to take the finalised document to Management Board and the Executive for final approval before publishing the document.
Members made the following key statements:
County Councillor Karl Arthur referred to Appendix A of the report and to an air quality management area that was within his division. He asked what progress had been made and if the only way to tackle the air pollution in that area was to pedestrianise the area or provide a roundabout to keep traffic moving. Simon Moss replied that he was not able to comment on the progress of individual areas because air quality was monitored by the district councils. However, a number of measures had been put in place in the areas listed in Appendix 1 to reduce pollution.
County Councillor Paul Haslam said the draft strategy was a substantial document and he welcomed that. He said though that it was not sufficient for the strategy to be supporting other council policies but should in fact be leading them. The ... view the full minutes text for item 122.
The Chairman invited Mr Bill Breakell to make a statement.
Mr Bill Breakell made the following statement.
“I realise that the report covers historic issues and some matters beyond the County Council’s control, nevertheless there are many points that require major change and urgent policy revision.
Rural bus services must be better recognised by the county council as an essential part of rural life, and as a basic human right. Community Transport and Demand Responsive Transport cannot substitute for clear, timetabled bus services with the capacity to be accessible to all and to cope with volatile demand.
There is no mention that public transport helps to meet environmental aims, only that it has social and economic benefits.
There is no mention that NYCC should integrate policies and practices so that all highways schemes create greatly improved facilities for buses and their passengers. Infrastructure is urgently required (bus shelters, bus boarders, bus priority measures, longer bus laybys to encourage connectivity from one bus to another). In addition, there is no consistency in timetable information around North Yorkshire, so the county council should post integrated timetable information at bus stops, as do other authorities, in order to maintain accurate and timely information.
Paragraph 3.2.4 [of the report] states three ‘service standards’ for Local Bus Service support. These seem to summarise the approach of the County Council towards bus services in that each service standard is a negative.
Section 4.2 [of the report] on external funding fails to explain how the county council writes bids or allocates funding. This leads to poor support from others involved in providing, promoting or using public transport. The only positive section in the report is the statement from the York and North Yorkshire devolution proposal which would see a very different approach to supporting public transport in the area.
Paragraph 4.3 reports a Demand Responsive Transport proposal, including the phrase ‘innovative solution.’ Research into Demand Responsive Transport [DRT] shows that almost all schemes have failed to fulfil their aims and most schemes do not last beyond their pilot phase. Highly acclaimed transport academics and transport practitioners almost all suggest that DRT is fundamentally flawed and DRT as envisaged for North Yorkshire would not serve those with wheelchairs, pushchairs or shopping trolleys, or visitors to rural areas. Independent costings for one of the North Yorkshire proposals put a figure of up to £29 as the subsidy required per passenger. What the public ‘demands’ is a frequent and reliable timetabled service with capacity for all types of users. This is fundamental to providing a step change to North Yorkshire: the CPRE report Every Village, Every Hour has won much praise and denounces DRT as not of meeting rural transport needs.
The council must recognise the visitor economy which, in the two National Parks alone generates over £1.1 billion for the local economy, and 13 million visitors. These are important public transport and equality opportunities for North Yorkshire.
The section on the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (4.4) fails to ... view the full minutes text for item 123.
The report of the Principal Scrutiny Officer asking the Committee to confirm, amend or add to the areas of the work listed in the Work Programme schedule (Appendix 1 to the report).
Jonathan Spencer introduced the report.
a) That the work programme be noted.