Agenda item

Q&A Session

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session coordinated by the Area Board Chairman.


A question-and-answer session took place coordinated by the Area Board Chairman. Questions raised included:


Question – Resident: With the importance of cycling and walking cited, it was questioned whether for meetings such as Area Boards, the LHFIG item could be presented first to demonstrate that the Council’s priorities are with those who are most vulnerable on the roads.


Answer: The resident was thanked for their passion on the topic. Currently with the Highways Matters Area Board meetings, the topics that were dominating presentations and discussions were investments and assets, however assurance was provided that the Council had a portfolio for climate change and travel choices. Additionally, the Council had made a commitment to better communicate the work that they are doing more effectively. It was stated that currently the Council was working on a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Trowbridge, with residents and businesses involved in consultation to identify where investments should be made in walking and cycling routes.


Question – Resident: There is a pavement from Trowbridge to Southwick, which residents have a desire to be made into a dual route for pedestrians and cyclists, however they had been told there was not a policy for such narrow strips of pavement, however in other counties there was such a policy.


Answer: It is challenging to balance the competing needs of users. New guidance has recently been provided by the Department of Transport which sets out minimum restrictions for cycleways. Within this guidance there are flexibilities however such a discussion would need to be taken away to balance the needs of users and safety priorities. As such, the Council does not have a policy for not having mixed used paths, however it is mindful when wanting to secure funding from Active Travel England that there is an expectation that investments will meet LTN120 standards. It is hoped that the government will recognise that these standards for London aren’t always deliverable in rural areas.


Question – Resident: It was questioned whether it was possible to use block paving for roads which might make maintenance easier with blocks able to be taken up and replaced.


Answer: Materials are chosen based on the location, budget and what technically would be the best materials to use for roads. The example of Castle Street was cited, which has slabs however these were of an asphaltic material. An approach only using block paving everywhere wouldn’t be the right approach as it would be time consuming to repair with the joints in between also subject to weed growth.


Question – Resident: It was questioned why Trowbridge doesn’t have a speed limit in the town centre like places such as Bath and London, who have 20mph speed limits. A further question was also asked as to why heavy-duty vehicles were allowed to pass through the town centre.


Answer: There is a speed limit in the town centre, which is the urban speed limit of 30mph. There is an option of introducing a 20mph limit as this has been done in a lot of towns through the LHFIG process and the Council would not be against this, although there is a qualifying criterion. Reference was made that a traffic survey would have to take place with 50% of traffic travelling less than 24mph.


Question – Resident:  It was questioned what the plans for electric vehicle were charging points in the town centre and whether there had been analysis conducted on how the power for these could be generated by solar and wind.


Answer: Recently funding had been provided by central government to deliver charging in Wiltshire, with work currently being conducted to produce a forward plan for delivery, which would be ready shortly. Currently the market is difficult, however the Council is having live conversations with infrastructure providers and is aware of the challenges around green energy. It has been identified that the cost of 55p per kilowatt unit has been decided following an extensive review of market costs.


Question – Resident: It is understood that BaNES Council has received £7million from fines produced from their implementation of a clean air zone, would Wiltshire be trying to receive any of this money for the diversion created?


Answer: The Council would not be receiving any money from this.


Question – Resident: It was questioned how long road works created by the work conducted because of the Trowbridge Future High Street Fund would last for as businesses were being affected with deliveries blocked and customers prevented from getting to businesses.


Answer: It is fully understood the impact that has been caused by the investment however it was surprised to be heard that this had occurred as early engagement and significant consultation had taken place in the public domain with contractors also having a mandate to work with the businesses affected. Residents were encouraged to speak with Sam Howell after the meeting. It was noted that the funding was separate to Highways and had come from the Department of Levelling Up and had been spread across the country to improve high streets which had been affected by internet shopping and out of town shopping. Trowbridge had obtained £16.5million of this funding with £8million of this being spent on the town hall refurbishment. Further apologies were provided for disruption caused to businesses.


Question – Resident: 20 years ago, Southwick obtained an award for Rights of Way walks and the Rights of Way Team did a fantastic job constructing this however it has gradually deteriorated as it has been maintained by rambler volunteer groups who need supervision. The Parish constantly writes to the Rights of Way Team but is lucky if they get a reply.


Answer: This is a funding and prioritisation issue with not much funding available. Additionally, there has been a challenge in recruiting Rights of Way Officers. Volunteer groups have not been stood down but rather have been paused as they need supervision including provision of equipment and materials. This year the Council has started recycling plainings from road maintenance on Rights of Ways.


Question – Resident: There is a large carpark outside of County Hall which is free at weekends but very few people know about it. If this had signage perhaps people would park there and spend time in the town centre.


Answer: This was noted and would be taken away.


Question – Cllr Stewart Palmen: Yellow lines have been put down in order to keep traffic from parking in bad positions however there seems to be a perception that there are not many traffic wardens to enforce them. People seem to be taking risks as they don’t feel that they will get caught, especially around schools and drop off points.


Answer: There have been significant recruitment challenges in enforcement, but the Council will be fully staffed subject to new employees completing their training. Though additional work is taking place in Trowbridge, it’s not possible for enforcement officers to be everywhere all the time. Additionally, Cabinet Members have discussed that they don’t have a view on placing a limit on the number of enforcement officers that can be recruitment as should the number rise, they tend to cover their hiring costs.


Question – Cllr Stewart Palmen: With planned highways maintenance on specific roads, is it possible to find out when work is happening in areas so that residents can be provided with advanced notice?


Answer: There is a Highways Assets page on the Wiltshire Council website which contains all the 7-year programmes subject to change depending on the deterioration of assets and funding. Additionally, a 12-month work programme is produced annually for the approval of the Cabinet Member. A website refresh requested by the Department of Transport is currently being undertaken with it expected to be complete by the end of March with pages fully updated.

Question – Cllr Edward Kirk: Comments were aligned with business owners who had previously spoken and that there was a weakness in communicating to businesses the work which was set to be carried out. Issues such as not having an alternative provision for unloading was cited as well as notices on loading bays. A further question was also asked regarding free parking on weekends at County Hall having previously been told that this could not be promoted.


Answer: It was suggested that a conversation take place outside of the meetings as a retailer’s group with Sam Howell also set to have conversations with contractors on what they should be doing. Assurance was also provided that conversations would take place regarding the free parking.


Question – Cllr Jo Trigg: Queries have been received regarding safety at school pick up times with parking becoming more reckless. Is there an investment approach to support schools particularly in a condensed area, such as going into schools to assist with comms to parents?


Answer: Road safety around schools is dealt with by a combination of methods including education and delivering engineering. There is a difficulty as though parents say that parking is a problem, they often admit to parking improperly. Additional support will be going into schools to assist with this. It is acknowledged that post Covid a lot of school travel plans are now out of date, therefore the Council plans to speak to schools as quickly as they can about this. The Council wants to move forward in partnership with schools and parents.

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