Agenda and minutes
Venue: County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA
Contact: Democratic Services
County Councillor D. Dovey
Led by the Chair, the Strategic Group held a minute’s silence in memory of County Councillor D. Dovey, recent past Chair of the Group. Describing him as a true gentleman, members paid their respects to Councillor Dovey reflecting upon their memories of him, his achievements, such as his support and encouragement for the Magor Walkway Station, and his dedication to the Group. The Chair, on behalf of the Group, wished to record sincere condolences to Councillor Dovey’s wife, Steph, son Spencer, his family and friends.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were made.
Discussion on the feedback from the recently circulated questionnaire
The Questionnaire is available here:
Responses to be returned by midday 5th February 2021.
The Chair thanked Head of Service (Strategic Projects) and Communications Officer for compiling and circulating the questionnaire also everyone who had completed it.
The role of the Group originally was to offer support for the Cabinet Member by bringing in expertise from outside the authority from individuals with specialist interest in developing transport within the county. The Group is not a scrutiny committee but is invaluable in providing comment on and challenge to regional and national policies and strategies. The Group has benefitted from presentations from many outside agencies. These assist in informing the Council’s position to develop strategy, priorities, opportunities and initiatives.
Feedback was reported as follows based on 13 responses:
· The majority agreed that the frequency of meetings was suitable with one or two responding that it was too often;
· Length of meetings were thought to be right, one response was that meetings were too long; and
· Length of the agenda was thought to be suitable with two responses that it was too long.
Other feedback was:
· The majority thought the group should continue as it is with one response that it should be more strategic and less operational, with a suggestion of sub committees (for e.g. bus and rail) reporting back to the main Group with a view to managing the agenda better;
· A comment was received that there was too much emphasis on public travel and not enough focus on active travel and reducing car use;
· A better understanding of how funding is allocated by the council was requested; and
· A suggestion of themed meetings.
Exploring what encourages members to attend and what it offers, the following feedback included:
· Concern about public transport;
· A suggestion to return to the original North/ South of the County format;
· Questioned if the Group could be a sub- committee of the Strong Communities Select Committee;
· Raises profile of public transport and challenges public transport providers;
· Offers opportunities to raise cross border public transport issues;
· Helps to improve public transport;
· Presentations from external organisations is beneficial;
· Networking with Councillors and officers to share current issues;
· Rural bus transport – opportunity for interested parties to be heard in a strategic group;
· Select Committees would not have the time to concentrate on integrated transport provision;
· Important committee – area committees representatives could attend for wider issues of bus services, trains, accessibility to rail stations, parking etc.;
· Can raise issues otherwise overlooked; and
· Should have greater objectivity in purpose.
A synopsis of the feedback will be circulated to the group. The terms of reference will be redrafted to reflect the feedback. The draft terms of reference will be discussed at the next meeting.
It was confirmed that Active Travel has been added to the portfolio for the Group. The Chair reminded the Group that any bid for funding must have an Active Travel element.
The Youth, Sport and Active Travel Manager explained the strategic focus for a whole authority approach on Active Travel. Ambitious bids, totalling £4.2m have been submitted this year for projects ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
1) Electric Vehicle (EV) charging strategy for Wales
The Head of Commercial and Integrated Landlord Services introduced the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Strategy for Wales Consultation inviting Group Members to comment to add to the authority’s response.
A Group Member suggested there should be fast-charging points at Magor Walkway Station in the proposed car parking area. It was explained that a bid has been submitted to Welsh Government for funding for next financial year for an EV charging strategy. It was added in the South of the County the electricity network is constrained and consequently Western Power Distribution can switch off any future renewable technologies. We need to understand capacity in the areas concerned such as using solar panels and batteries. It was agreed public car parks could be viable opportunities for fast charging points. Social equity must also be considered in considering locations e.g. not discourage on street EV points.
A Group Member explained that Karshare allows car owners to rent their cars out to people without a vehicle. Transition Chepstow is considering buying electric vehicles to add to this fleet which would allow people to trial electric cars. Additionally, a fleet of electric bikes may be purchased requiring bike charging points.
The Active Travel Manager confirmed that some e bikes have been purchased as a pilot scheme in Caldicot. Covid has restricted the project currently. An offer was made to consider supporting a similar project in Chepstow. Further details will be sent to Transition Chepstow.
The Chair reminded the Group of the River Simple hydrogen vehicle project.
Group Members were encouraged to respond to the consultation.
Any Other Business
· Wye Valley Villages Study: The project is proceeding and ARUP will be contacting members of the group for comments. The study will include tourism and public transport.
· Chepstow Transport Study: The WelTAG Stage 2 review report should be ready in March 2021.
· Abergavenny Railway Station: A study will consider interchange options and Park and Ride.
· Local Transport Plan (LTP): A group member suggested that the Authority produces a new LTP through a consultation process to strategically capture all the topics raised, have clear objectives and to reflect the authority’s ambitions to deliver its targets and its land use plan. The Head of Place-Making, Housing, Highways and Flooding confirmed that a consultant is being engaged to produce an updated LTP. This will reflect the Councils Climate Emergency declaration.
· Electric vehicle charging: In response to a query, it was explained that it is not council policy to have trailing cables across pavements. The Authority is looking at different ways of charging electric vehicles including on-street charging.
· Transition Chepstow: The group was informed that Transition Chepstow has produced the first sustainable transport plan. It is hoped that the plan will provide a possible blueprint for other towns. It was agreed the plan will be shared with the group.
· Rurality: A member referred to the Welsh Government priority to reduce the need to travel but commented on the need for residents of rural communities to have access to public transport and the option to travel by car to address rural isolation, to access services, experience a sense of community and the social benefits of meeting people. It was agreed that the drive is for less overall mileage, less travel to destinations; difficult in rural areas. It was acknowledged that residents’ age and health limits active travel opportunities.
· Bus Timetables: It was noted that bus timetables are not on the Council’s website. It was recognised that these have been taken down due to the many service changes during the pandemic and lockdown. It was agreed to add details for the 75 and 65 buses to the website. Timetables for the 65 Bus are also available here: https://friendsofthe65bus.org.uk/
A Wales-wide journey planner is available: https://www.traveline.cymru/#
· Abergavenny Station: Transport for Wales has provided an update on the improvement work ongoing at Abergavenny Station. The station, which has served the town and wider community since the mid-Victorian era, will see some of its empty spaces converted to become an art gallery. See press release below.
The action list from the last meeting was noted.
Group Members were invited to send possible items for inclusion to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The notes of the last meeting were confirmed as an accurate record.
To confirm the date of the next meeting as 14th July 2021