Agenda item

Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).


The Chief Executive reported that the following questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5) from Mr M. Hunt CC and Mrs A. Hack CC.


(a)            Questions asked by Mr. M. Hunt CC:


“1. I was sad, but not entirely surprised, to see that Leicestershire achieved a score of zero in the recent DfT local authority active travel capability ratings. We were matched on zero by Rutland, whilst the City of Leicester top scored.  A zero score indicates (“Local leadership for active travel is not obvious, no significant plans are in place, the authority has delivered only lower complexity schemes”). Why have we done so badly and what are we doing about it?


2.     What will this mean for future bidding to Government for active travel in the County? (I would be grateful if the link can be embedded in the text or placed as a footnote: Local authority active travel capability ratings


3.     When nearly 150,000 Leicestershire residents live in the Leicester Urban Area (ONS), why can’t we achieve the same active travel capability across area; why does it stop at the city boundary?


4.     When small towns hosting universities in Britain are well known to excel in cycle provision, why is Loughborough, a town which could create the critical mass for cycling and walking, the odd one out?


5.     The school run is one of the major contributors to congestion at the morning peak hour, why are we no longer prioritising School Travel Plans and helping schools to make them more effective so we can publish real achievements.


6.     A National Cycle Route (NCR6) crosses the M1 and the West of Loughborough SUE and has proved a safe route for cyclists and walkers between Shepshed and Loughborough, as the SUE develops will the County be adopting the path and will we be insisting on a durable surface of sufficient width?  What other paths will the County be adopting within this extensive development?”



Reply by the Chairman


“1. Assessment scores were made by the Active Travel England (ATE), based largely on a self-assessment form completed by each Local Transport Authority. In the case of Leicestershire’s score, ATE recognised the level of commitment to walking and cycling being demonstrated by the Authority in terms of the adoption of a Cycling and Walking Strategy and the use of its own monies to develop a programme of countywide Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs). The primary reason that the Authority received a zero score, is because it had not yet developed and delivered a ‘transformative’ cycling and walking project, something reflecting the Government’s vision for cycling and walking as set out in ‘Gear Change’ and in national cycle infrastructure design guidance LTN1/20.


A key reason for this is the availability of funding. With a capital programme already heavily committed to supporting other key Government policies – including provision of infrastructure vital to the delivery of more new homes and to the creation of new jobs – and without access to significant funding streams that have been/are available to urban and metropolitan areas (such as the Transforming Cities Fund and The City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements), the Authority has not to date been in the position to secure the millions of pounds necessary to deliver ‘transformative’ projects.


However, the Authority is working pro-actively with ATE to improve its capability rating to at least one by this summer. A number of actions are being undertaken, including the provision of officer training including to enhance knowledge and skills in the design of LTN1/20 schemes, Member training (the planned All Member Briefing session on 6th June) and the setting up of an Active Travel Forum. Together with the ongoing development of the LCWIP programme, officers are confident that going forward this will place the Authority in a far stronger position to benefit from future Government funding opportunities and to secure developer contributions towards the delivery of projects that will ‘transform’ provision for pedestrians and cyclists.


2.  Were the Authority not to be working proactively with ATE to improve its score to at least one by this summer, then in the future it would be ineligible to bid to ATE (Government) for funding to support the delivery of both revenue and capital funded active travel projects.


Achieving a score of at least one will mean that the Authority will be eligible to bid, albeit there would be no guarantee of success (which is an inherent risk with any ‘bid driven’ system of awarding funding). The zero score has not altered the Authority’s commitment to continue with active travel work, including to develop a programme of LCWIPs and to undertake promotional and educational work under the umbrella of Choose How You Move.


3.  As per the response to question 1, as an urban area Leicester City Council has received over £32m of Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) monies that it has used to help to pay towards the improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure within its boundaries. The Government’s stated focus for the TCF is “[to drive up] productivity through investments in public and sustainable transport infrastructure in some of England’s largest city regions.” Non-city areas have not had access to a similarly targeted fund.


However, the County Council has been working hard to ensure that it is best placed to seek to benefit from future funding opportunities to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in areas adjoining Leicester City. An LCWIP for the South of Leicester is well advanced and close to completion, and it is currently intended to bring that to the Cabinet for approval towards the end of this calendar year. An LCWIP for the North of Leicester is also in development and it is presently intended to bring that to the Cabinet for approval in early 2024. Officers have been in consultations with Leicester City Council colleagues to seek to ensure that both LCWIPs align with their current and any future proposals for cycling and walking improvements within the City.


The LCWIP documents will set out the Authority’s ambitions for significantly improving cycling and walking networks in areas surrounding the City of Leicester and will provide a basis for seeking to secure funding for projects, both from the Government and developers.


4.  Measures to improve walking and cycling provision in Loughborough have previously been undertaken and paid for by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and as part of the Town Centre Major Project. Building on this and in recognition of the key role that the town plays in providing for new homes, jobs and in hosting a world-class university, the development of an LCWIP covering Loughborough, including Shepshed, has been prioritised. As with all current LCWIP’s in development, extensive engagement has been undertaken to inform the development of the Loughborough Area LCWIP, and it included: Members, District Council, advocacy groups and the public.  It is now at an advanced stage of development and close to completion, and it is currently intended to bring it to the Cabinet for approval towards the end of this calendar year (alongside the LCWIP for South of Leicester referenced in response to question 3).


The LCWIP will set out ambitions for further improving cycling and walking networks in Loughborough and Shepshed and will provide a basis for seeking to secure funding for projects, both from the Government and developers.


5.  Working with schools continues to be a priority for Leicestershire County Council. The Safe and Sustainable Travel Team works closely with schools across the county, under the Choose How You Move brand to enable and encourage active and sustainable travel journeys.


The Choose How You Move Team works in partnership with Active Together and district councils to deliver a programme of initiatives. The MODESHIFT STARS travel planning tool is available free of charge for all primary schools within England and Leicestershire County Council continues to promote this as part of the Choose How You Move programme. This requires commitment from the school to resource, manage and record data including initiatives and survey results into the system. Although not all schools currently use MODESHIFT STARS to record active and sustainable travel activity, we have worked with several schools across the county to encourage active and sustainable travel.  Please see below some examples of projects delivered within the last 12 months:


·         Launch of 16 park and stride sites

·         School Street Trials at three schools

·         Provision of Bikeability

·         Performance in education – Air Quality and Active Travel

·         October - Active Travel Month

·         Junior Road Safety Officer Scheme

·         13 schools awarded active and sustainable travel grants


As part of our 2023-2024 schools programme the Choose How You Move Schools Officer will be working with the Active Together Sports and Physical Activity Network to identify seven schools (one from each district) to provide additional resources to support the development of a minimum bronze accredited MODESHIFT STARS travel plan.


6.  The cycle route is already part of the existing Public Right of Way (PROW) Network, Footpath K68 and Bridleway L17. We’re not aware of any plan the developer has to upgrade the condition of this route to offer for full highway adoption.


There are a number of other links proposed in planning (plan included) and we expect that the developer's intention is for those that aren’t existing PROWs to remain privately maintained, however, it is up to the developer as to whether they want to offer them for adoption.”



(b)            Questions asked by Mrs. Amanda Hack CC:


“Please could I ask a question as a County Councillor on behalf of the South Leicestershire Litter Wombles, there is a member of the management committee that is a constituent. Whilst I do litter pick and engage with the South Leicestershire Litter Wombles, I am not an official member of the constituted element of the group.


South Leicestershire Litter Wombles have appreciated the wide level of support offered to the wombles from the County Council and District Councils. All wombles care for the Environment and feel that the best way forward is to work in partnership to clear up Leicestershire Countryside so have the following questions:


1.     In light of the recent initiative of No Mow May, the Litter wombles are concerned at the potential level of litter that could be trapped in the verges before they are cut. Picking up shredded mowed litter accounts for many hours spent by wombles across the county during the mowing season. Could Leicestershire County Council and the District Councils start working together to do a litter pick before the areas are mowed, preventing shredded litter and the damage to the environment this causes.


2.     Who within the authority with responsibility for highways maintenance (including mowing) can support the litter wombles and cross District Council liaison meetings?


3.     The level of Highways equipment that is picked each week is always significant, with stray cones and ‘A’ frames. What are Leicestershire County Council doing to reduce the impact they are having on our local environment, and how are sub-contractors managed to take greater responsibility for removing all equipment once highways works are completed?”


Reply by the Chairman


1       Prior to each annual grass-cutting season commencing, the Council provides details of grass-cutting programmes to district councils, with links to the Council website where the information is updated throughout the season. District councils can use this information to ensure that litter picking is co-ordinated with the programmed mowing dates. 


2. The Director further reported that representatives from the South Leicestershire Litter Wombles (SLLW) had a regular meeting with the County Council Highway Maintenance officers. The Head of Service for Highways and Transport Delivery attended these meetings. If the SLLW would like to rearrange these into a joint meeting with district officers, the same Council officers would continue to attend and support.


Also, if there were any specific enquiries prior to or after liaison meetings, these could be directed through the Council’s Customer Services and a member of the Environment Team would respond direct. 


3.  The Director responded that all works promoters that were authorised to work in the Highway (all the different utility contractors, the many developers and the highway authority) had a duty to remove their roadworks signs at the end of their works. The Council’s internal workforce is constantly reminded of this and following the recent meetings with the SLLW’s one of the actions was been for the Council to provide identification on all of its signs to support ownership of any abandoned signs (please see photos below). A further action has been to reinforce the point with utility companies and statutory undertakers at the quarterly liaison meetings.


Any abandoned roadwork signs that were reported to the Council were bought to the attention of the relevant contractor (where known) and they were required to arrange for its collection at their expense. Anecdotally, the SLLW have reported a reduction in roadworks equipment following the Council’s actions.


















Supplementary Questions


Mrs Hack, on the response to Question One, asked what work could be done in advance to agree responsibilities between the districts and the County on litter picks before a mow, and could the authorities work more closely together to prevent litter shredding?


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Director of Environment and Transport responded and advised that, as mentioned in the initial response, the County Council already provided district councils with its grass-cutting schedule well in advance to allow them to programme their litter picks. The statutory responsibility for litter clearance sat with the district authorities and the Council did not have the power to instruct a district council to carry out litter clearance.  The County Council did, however, try to enable a joined-up approach to litter picking and grass cutting and were happy to enter into discussions with district authorities to improve where it could.


In response to Question Two, Mrs Hack commented that the litter wombles had collected 24,000 bags of litter from Leicestershire in their own time. Having a named person who they could liaise with would not only speed up the process but provide leadership at local authority level and Mrs Hack asked if it was possible to provide a Highways named person directly to the group?


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Director of Environment and Transport advised that in the first instance the County Council proposed exploring through the regular liaison meetings what the needs of the Wombles were from the highway perspective, and if these could not be addressed through those meetings then identifying a specific contact within the Service would be considered.


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