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RESPONSE FROM CAERLEON CIVIC SOCIETY ON NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL’S SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL STRATEGY

 

Presentation- overview

 

The presentation of the report is confusing in its layout and headings, or lack of them and this doesn’t make it easy to read (especially on-line) or to understand the purpose of each part. In particular:

  • Documents under the title Sustainable Travel Strategy (Air, Noise & Sustainability Action Plan) are difficult to separate in terms of their purpose and are confusing, in terms of their titles, especially as Appendix A to the Cabinet report (presumably the main report for consultation) is labelled as a ‘strategy’, rather than a consultation paper.

  • Examples of poor presentation; Page 43-‘Action Plans’ but for what? & Page 44, a map with no heading or context; also Page 47 ie. Appendix B is referred to as the ‘supplementary consultation and survey’ in the Cabinet Report. If it is, why not harmonise the headings?

  • Proof reading would have helped to eliminate errors, especially spelling and incorrect words (eg ‘statistics’ when ‘static’ was meant ; and street car ‘higher’ instead of ‘hire’).

 

Appendix A (Main report)

 

Obviously, a great deal of work has gone into compiling this. However, the first 20 or so pages are essentially background information or data gathered which could have been included in appendices. The last 10 pages are devoted to action plans, which are vague.

 

Whilst we appreciate that this is a strategy rather than an operational plan, it omits objectives, strategic or otherwise; and doesn’t include timed actions with names of those responsible for action. It could, for example, include actions for taking these proposals forward. KPIs (key performance indicators) are also often absent from the action plan so no quality check on actions can be carried out.

 

More specifically:

 

  • Ref B (p33) ‘Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ) –actions should include:

    • random spot checks by police (liaison needed)and

    • the limitation of fleet expansion in CAZs, having established current and planned levels in localities such as Caerleon. The Civic Society (CCS) would like to know what plans the LA have for this.

 

  • Ref D (p34) Actions regarding taxi fleets state ‘encourage’ rather than ‘stipulate’ and ‘enforce’ which is surely within the Local Authority’s (LA) power.

 

  • Ref E (p35)-Buses and Trains -Again, ‘support’/’encourage’ . Why not seek to stipulate/enforce changes? Also, should there not be an action to establish norms at national level via our AMs & MPs?

 

 

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  • Ref G (p36) –Petrol & Diesel Cars-Why ‘passively discourage’? Why not ‘actively’?; and say how this will be done. More detail on proposals is needed. CCS is keen to introduce limits on traffic at peak times (especially school drop off/pick up) and create more restrictions on parking close to the Primary School.

 

  • Ref H (p36)-Hybrid/Electric Vehicles- more detail needed on how promotion of electric vehicles will happen and who is tasked to do it and by when.

 

  • Ref I (p37) –Walking & Cycling- CCS will be asking Newport City Council for help in establishing safe walking routes to school with ‘park and walk’ areas on the outskirts of the Town eg low cost ‘grasscrete’ zones near the bank of The River Usk. In addition, the proposed network of walking and cycling routes through Caerleon making links with neighbouring areas would be strongly supported by CCS.

 

  • Ref J (p38) –Public Bodies- Surely the LA can do more than ‘encourage’ other public bodies to adopt low emission fleets and meet new standards. Why not stipulate targets then enforce them?

 

  • Ref K (p39)-Schools- With regard to (your) schools, again , surely targets can be set with head teachers and, in consultation with parents , progress against these could be monitored by the LA . CCS is keen to pursue the concept of ‘living walls’ in school areas to help reduce the impact of vehicle emissions. Also see Ref. G above.

 

  • Ref L (p40)-Public Awareness- CCS would like to see a programme of actions set out for this rather than bland sentiments.

 

  • Ref M (p41) –Street & Road Improvements- Much of Caerleon’s traffic problem is caused by it’s unfortunate road layout which has had no significant investment since before the last century. In order to reduce the effect of congested traffic in Caerleon, The CCS urges the following measures to be implemented :-

 

(a) Signage at strategic points, eg. near the motorway junction and before Caerleon Road in Usk to help to divert some traffic from narrow street areas, which are the worst affected.

(b) More ‘enforcement’ of traffic offences by the Police to be supported by the LA.

(c) A study to assess the feasibility of a traffic light system between the Caerleon Road bridge (possibly including the junction to Belmont Hill) and the Usk Road near Sainsbury’s ; in conjunction with 2-way traffic on this stretch of road. This would have the effect of diverting through-traffic away from the narrow centre of Caerleon whilst allowing access for local traffic.

Furthermore, if the traffic lights are sited on the junction before the bridge, this would halve the weight placed on the bridge itself, as there would only be one carriageway in use at a time. Consequently, this could solve two problems at once, as well as acting as a potential deterrent to those using Caerleon as a ‘rat run’.

 

 

 

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  • Ref N (p42)-Light Goods Vehicles & Deliveries- In respect of light vehicles, CCS would like more detail of how these proposals would be implemented, by whom and by when.

 

We note the lack of adequate data on bus service usage and would expect this to be an essential part of any attempt to reduce pollution, especially in Caerleon. Furthermore, we are disappointed that Caerleon hasn’t been given more prominence in trials or pilot schemes, especially in view of it’s particular problem of narrow streets which must aggravate the pollution problem.

 

The monitoring points used in these areas will undoubtedly have depressed the readings taken there and used as a basis for making decisions. In Manchester, hand-held monitoring devices have been used to more accurately measure the ‘actual’ emission levels, near schools, at child head height at peak times, rather using ‘averaged’ data, collected only once a month.

 

 

 

Additional Schemes

 

The Civic Society is keen that the LA should borrow and build upon schemes which have proven beneficial elsewhere in the UK eg The Mayor of London’s School Air Quality Audit Programme including:-

 

    • Anti-idling measures

    • Reallocated road space

    • Traffic calming

    • Reduced drop-off /pick-up near schools

    • Low emission buses only

    • Greater use of ‘green’ infrastructure, including ‘street canyon’ measures

    • ECO stars programme for HGV and commercial vehicles

    • Revised playground layout eg in Caerleon, explore more use of the space behind the Primary School.

 

We wonder why at least some of these haven’t already been piloted and greatly regret that Caerleon wasn’t included in the scheme to trial electric buses. We urge the LA to pursue this on our behalf.

 

We also strongly urge that signage is reviewed in relation to the weight limits on Caerleon bridges and, in liaison with the Police, that spot checks are carried out to enforce limits, as there is a danger of collapse when these are exceeded which could lead to injury or loss of life There is an extremely strong case for making this bridge a ‘listed structure’ in view of its historical significance and the CCS would ask the LA to pursue the necessary means to achieve this.

 

Likewise, signage to indicate that Caerleon is a ‘Clean Air Zone’ might help to deter vehicles with high emissions, especially if random spot checks are organized in conjunction with The Police. We expect the LA to pursue this on our behalf

 

 

 

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Appendix A (Questionnaire)

 

This report finishes with a poorly designed questionnaire with no information about where it should be sent or how it is to be used or administered. It contains inconsistent numbering/lettering of questions and answers. Examples of poor questions include:

 

Q1- two questions are asked at once-‘If you have read the summary you should answer yes to a, b and c’ but it says ‘select one’.

Q5a- ‘How often do you take a taxi?’

  1. Every day

  2. Once a week

  3. Once a month

  4. Once every other month

  5. Once every six months

  6. Once a year

  7. Longer than a year ago

  8. Never

  9. Do not know/unsure

 

It is bad practice to not account for all answers (what if you take a taxi twice a week?) also answer 7 is an answer to a different question. There are also other poor questions and a number of ‘leading’ ones, which tend to skew unbiased answers.

 

We regret that better advice wasn’t taken in the design of this survey as CCS is still very interested in the response to the questions which remain valid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caerleon Civic Society May 2019

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