To receive the report of the Head of Legal and Democratic Services on any Notices of Motion received by him (Lilac pages).
Councillors are asked to note that any Notices of Motion must be received by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services no later than noon on 3 September 2019.
The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mrs E B Tucker, Prof J W Raine, Mrs F M Oborski and Mr M E Jenkins.
The motion was moved by Mrs E B Tucker and seconded by Mr M E Jenkins who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.
In the ensuing debate, the following points were made:
· The footways budget was inadequate, did not reflect the policy priority and did not allow footways to be maintained to the required standard. In particular, standards were not being enforced on developers. The importance of safe footways for the social welfare of elderly and disabled people should not be under-estimated. The intervention criteria that determined when maintenance work could begin was very high. As a result, footways were not conducive to safe walking with, in many instances, undulating footways and footpaths sloping towards the kerb
· The quality of footways was a public health issue as well as a highways issue and it was important to ensure that the criteria for maintenance work was set at an appropriate level
· The Cabinet Member for Highways indicated that he was happy to accept the motion on behalf of the administration. He recognised the importance of tackling social isolation and encouraging children to cycle and walk to school. Spending on footways had increased from £1.8m in 2014/15 to £5m in 2019/20 and as a percentage of the highways budget from 6.2% to 14% and had risen every year. The Government’s Incentive Fund of £6m had enabled the Council to repair 50 miles of pavement, improving quality and quantity. Members also received an additional £43k annually for highways repairs. The criteria for repairing highways defects was in line with Government Policy. A number of factors were taken into account including condition surveys and public enquiries so that the footways in most need were attended to. There were detailed specifications for developers creating footways on new estates or undertaking work on existing highways. All these matters would be included in his report to Cabinet
· The Department for Transport’s displacement criterion for repairing damaged footways was extraordinary high and the Council should intervene before that level was reached
· It was disappointing that officers were unwilling to consider undertaking the maintenance of long stretches of footways along roads in rural areas
· It was requested that the Cabinet Member establish in his report whether the Council had the capacity to undertake the work for which funding had been allocated
· Parking on pavements was a particular problem, causing damage to pavements and obstructing pedestrians. The Department for Transport should be lobbied to introduce a ban. In response, it was commented that this was a grey area and there were occasions where it was necessary for motorists to park on the pavement
· It was important for people with sight issues that tactile footplates were monitored and replaced where damaged
· The quality of the footway reinstatement work carried out by officers was high. Unfortunately, developers were not installing footpaths to the same standard and this needed to be addressed by district councils at the planning stage
· The criteria for repairing damaged footpaths should not just take account of the scale of the damage but also its current and future use. The local councillor was well-placed to inform that consideration
· A more strategic approach to siding out rural footways along A roads was needed
· The prevention of cycling and the creation of barriers in alleyways alongside houses where there was no road in urban areas needed further attention
· The Leader of the Council highlighted the Council’s commitment to providing top quality pavements with top quartile performance. A significant amount of funding was now available to local councillors to address footway issues. He emphasised the importance of the availability of the Future High Streets Fund and the Towns Fund in improving the public realm
· The Cabinet Member’s report should make reference to the findings of the scrutiny task and finish group on this matter
· The growth of weeds and grass had an impact on the quality of pavements and therefore local councillors should consider providing funds to kill weeds
· The Cabinet Member might wish to give consideration in his report to the obstruction of access to the footway for example through overgrown hedges/brambles from adjacent private/public land.
On being put to the vote, the motion was agreed unanimously.
RESOLVED: “This Council understands the important contribution that walking makes to people’s health – even just getting out of the house and walking to the shop, walking the dog, or a short walk in the fresh air can make all the difference.
For people with weak ankles, walking disabilities or frailties of aging, it is particularly important that roadside paths are in a safe and level state.
Council asks for the Cabinet Member for Highways to take a report to Cabinet setting out the current criteria that trigger maintenance work on footways and what changes to those standards are required for safe walking by less able or less confident walkers. This should include equalities advice plus input from outside organisations and include the safety of people using buggies.
We also ask that the report reviews the construction specifications for housebuilders where they affect the public footway. Pedestrian safety and the convenience of flat and level paths should take precedence over the desire of householders to reduce the gradient of their driveways.”