Examination of Witnesses (Questions 720
WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL 2001
720. Would the LGA have a view that park and
ride schemes would best not be built on green belt sites?
(Cllr Wicks) That is a difficult one. From a practical
point of view, I am not sure that the LGA has ever discussed this
or come to a view on it, but the fact that park and ride sites
that are a reasonable distance from a town or a city are very
hard to find means that local authorities may end up with what
may be not what they would be first looking out for. They would
be first looking out for brown field sites. You would have a list
of priorities. Having drawn a blank on all those, they may be
left with those that would not have come top of the list but are
the only ones available. One has to have respect for the fact
that at the moment the situation is that if you want to put a
park and ride site on a green belt area you should put that in
your local plan so that this is all looked at, discussed, inquired
into and objected to and everybody has a chance to talk about
it at that stage, long in advance of any proposal to have a park
and ride site in the green belt. Similarly, areas in a flood plane.
Since presumably such areas could be cleared in times of potential
flood, although they would not be a best option, they might be
the only option that you are left with. It is a practical question.
721. I should not get too far drawn into the
problems of the outskirts of York.
(Cllr Dolezal) It seems a reasonable way of getting
a number of cars off the road, does it not? In answer, what do
you want to do as a consequence of the park and ride? If it is
to reduce congestion in the centre of town to make it a better
place to walk, you have to look at the benefits of doing that
in a systematic way.
722. Would it be helpful to have national targets
to encourage walking? Who would be the best to set them?
(Cllr Wicks) If there are to be targets, they would
be best set in relation to readily identifiable groups like increasing
the percentage of children walking to school. These are targets
which are easily understood by people. They are measures which
are easily identifiable that you can take and they can be monitored
(Mr Cannon) The crucial issue, if there were to be
a national target, is that it would need to be measurable. There
are considerable difficulties in measuring walking. I would agree
with the previous comment that maybe it would be more useful to
have targets geared at more specific circumstances, such as children
walking to school or employees walking to work, where a company
travel plan has been adopted.
(Mr Christie) You can give targets for things which
are measurable, like physical features or indeed accident reduction,
but you have to be careful that, for example, the latter one,
accident reduction, does not make walking more difficult by discouraging
people from walking so that they do not get run over because they
are not walking. It would have to be a sensitive issue.
723. Do you think the people you serve in communities
want to see more money out of transport spending devoted to facilitating
(Mr Cannon) I can only speak from my own experience
in Derbyshire where we undertook considerable public consultation
as part of our local transport plan. There was a very clear message
from that, that people were looking for low cost, relatively local
improvements and particularly measures which improved access to
facilities, including measures to improve walking.
724. Was that included in the local transport
plan last year?
(Mr Cannon) We built that into our local transport
725. What percentage are you thinking of including
in the plan for walking?
(Mr Cannon) My recollection is that, of the capital
spend for the current financial year, we are looking at something
in excess of, I believe, 25 per cent of our maintenance expenditure
devoted to maintenance of footways and a figure of about 15 per
cent of measures within the integrated transport block devoted
to improvement of footways. I should add that a number of measures
that we are proposing, including measures such as traffic calming,
will be of considerable benefit to pedestrians as well. It is
rather difficult to isolate the element of the capital spend that
is entirely devoted to pedestrians.
726. What is the feedback to the LGA on the
local transport plans and the inclusion of spending money on improving
walking? Has there been any feedback?
(Mr Christie) A lot of people claim to have invented
the local transport planning concept, but it goes back in a way
to the package approach to transport spending in the West Midlands
a few years ago where it was recognised that the old TSG approach
was concentrating a lot on putting in major road schemes and,
when you have these major road schemes, you put in for some more.
The other things are not perhaps given the weight they deserve.
The local transport plan involving consensus building and partnerships
and taking environment, development and all the wider issues into
account should lead to a more logical approach to how transport
fits into the environment. If that is the case, things which have
hitherto perhaps not been given the weight they deserve, like
walking, would come higher up the agenda. I think the DETR, in
looking at local transport plan submissions, recognises that some
more environmental aspects of transport provision are being given
weight around the country. It is not perfect yet, but I think
there is a general recognition.
(Cllr Dolezal) In London specifically on walking,
not on maintenance issues, of about 110 million spend, two per
cent goes on walking specifically. Nine per cent goes on cycling
and 16 per cent goes on improving public transport. Again, I think
it has a number of parallel benefits.
727. In the evidence submitted by the LGA to
this Committee, you do place emphasis on the contribution to walking
and you also say that the local transport authority have submitted
their first full local transport plan since 2000 and they are
going to say that the Association shows that many will obtain
the opportunity to set out comprehensive strategies to promote
walking as part of the integrated policy. This is what you are
saying to us. I am asking if there is any follow-up to that by
the Local Government Association?
(Mr Christie) I suspectand I do not know because
I have not seen themthat lots of them who have a specific
interest in a particular aspect of local transport plans have
been looking through them all to see if they have their interests
taken account of adequately. It is not just walking but freight
transport, disabled access and so on.
728. We are doing a study on walking and we
want to know what the response to the LGA has been to this question
from local authorities.
(Mr Christie) The local transport plans are an integrated
plan and to concentrate just on walking would be to undermine
729. Your evidence says that you promote it
and you are saying that is not strictly correct. I think we ought
to have some report from the LGA as to what is happening in member
authorities on this question of promoting walking in their areas.
(Cllr Dolezal) There is evidence, certainly within
London through the Mayor and his ITP and local authorities. Croydon,
Camden, Southwark and Bromley have all had walking as a distinct
feature of their local implementation plans. It is over and above
the general maintenance of footways and creating a neat and tidy
place; it is about creating an environment to encourage walking
and to make it pleasant for people to be in.
730. You mentioned a little earlier the need
to have the right skills at local level amongst engineers and
so on. Do you think within local government that there are sufficient
people with the skills to give walking the priority that you have
been asking for in your evidence today?
(Cllr Dolezal) I can only speak on London's perspective
in as much as I chair the Recruitment and Retention Working Group
that is looking at this very issue. There are a number of key
workers, quite predictably, police, teachers, nurses. One of the
areas where we do have a real issue is people at the right stage
of their career in London, who are able to develop and deliver
on these plans. In some instances, it is almost not to be taken
that seriously but after 20 years of experience of reducing budgets
it is pretty rare to find someone who has vast experience of spending
money and also having people with the right calibre and the right
range of skills, certainly ones where you are looking at people
who are able to integrate the planning, the traffic management
and the engineering skills to deliver on the environment. What
I am gratified to see is that there is an increasing number of
people who begin to appreciate the holistic approach, the integrated
approach, to looking at some of these issues. You can get parallel
benefits, not only in terms of a better environment which creates
a sense of wellbeing but it encourages walking, which encourages
health, which reduces crime, and people are beginning to appreciate
that. Also, within the developers, within the market place, the
people who actually construct, build and finance initiatives in
731. Could you give me one or two examples of
where good practice has actually happened as opposed to people
talking about it? Can you tell us which is the best local authority
for encouraging children to walk to school?
(Cllr Dolezal) I think they would all claim that.
732. You are not doing anything to measure performance?
There are all these Best Value and Beacon status things. Are you,
as an LGA, doing anything to look for good practice in this sort
(Mr Christie) There is a School Travel Advisory Group
which there are local government people on, which is looking specifically
at targeting best practice. They have published guidance. One
of the things that has happened in recent years is that there
has been more inclusive working between the DETR, local government
and outside bodies in producing things jointly.
733. I understand about the ideas of joint working.
Is there any actual evidence that it actually makes a difference?
(Mr Cannon) If I could give one small example from
Derbyshire, we adopted a number of years ago a pedestrian strategy
which formed a basis for developing our local transport plan.
That has enabled us also to take forward a number of individual
initiatives in the local transport plan. A particular example
I am thinking of is where we have adjusted the timings on pelican
crossings to make them more pedestrian friendly. That has effectively
reduced the delay to pedestrians.
734. Have you evidence that more people actually
walk on those streets as a result?
(Mr Cannon) The impact on numbers of people using
that particular facility is fairly inconclusive. What we have
observed is that more people are now inclined to use the crossing
facility rather than crossing more randomly across the street.
There is an improvement in safety. It is difficult to show how
one small measure like that can have an impact. It is the accumulation
of a number of different measures that are likely to bear fruit
Chairman: We had better leave it at that but
if the LGA can think of one or two examples of good practice where
there is demonstrable evidence we would like to have that sent