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Agenda item

Support for Increased Provision for Cyclists within Tewkesbury Borough

Councillor Munro will propose and Councillor Stanley will second

Cycling is an important component in plans to reduce traffic, improve air quality, keep our residents healthy and reduce our carbon emissions in the fight against climate change. The pandemic has shown that there is an appetite for cycling where this is safe and enjoyable, and it is important to build on this interest and continue to encourage those who do not usually cycle. The importance of cycling has been recognised by central government who are keen to develop cycle networks.

Similarly the Council has already included a commitment in its COVID-19 Corporate Recovery Plan to “build on our communities’ connections with green space, walking and cycling to encourage healthy, sustainable living and an appreciation of biodiversity”, and to include in our garden communities improved transport links and green infrastructure, including cycling routes.

Whilst recognising that cycling is primarily within the remit of Gloucestershire County Council, this Council is asked to do whatever it can to support safe cycling and the County Council in its efforts to develop a cycling network in our County. The County Council is proposing a cycle path to link Bishop’s Cleeve to Cheltenham, and Churchdown to Cheltenham which has the potential link to routes through to Tewkesbury, Ashchurch and the new Garden Town. Also, not to forget that small local journeys to our local shops, businesses and schools will reduce short journeys taken by car and it is short journeys that most people start to enjoy before moving to more ambitious cycle rides.

In view of the above it is a matter of concern that no work on the cycleway between Bishop’s Cleeve and Gotherington, which was agreed under a Section 106 Agreement to be built and paid for by developers, has commenced. The current position is that, while a date was given to start in April 2020, this was cancelled due to the pandemic and the latest information from the County Council is that the work is still with the highways legal team. This Council is asked to show its determination to get this cycle path built and demonstrate its commitment to improving cycle routes in our Borough.

Accordingly, the Council is asked to

·        Make a public statement that it supports initiatives to increase the take up of cycling and will ensure that, in all planning applications for major developments, provision will be made for cycle paths for both local and longer journeys.

·        Issue a statement of support to the County Council supporting its initiatives to develop a cycle network and its work to develop a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan for Tewkesbury, including a requirement that funding for schemes is identified.

·        Ask the County Council to prioritise the works of the highways legal team to ensure that the Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington cycleway is not delayed further, with a request for work to start on building the cycleway by the end of the current financial year.

Minutes:

30.7          The Worshipful the Mayor referred to the Notice of Motion set out on the Agenda and indicated that, in accordance with the Council’s Rules of Procedure, it was necessary for the Council firstly to decide whether it wished to debate and determine the Motion at this evening’s meeting, or whether it wished to refer the Motion, without debate, to a Committee for consideration with authority either to make a decision on the matter or to bring a recommendation back to Council.  

30.8          It was agreed that the Motion would be considered at the current meeting and, in accordance with the Council’s Rules of Procedure, the proposer of the Motion was invited to present the Motion. She explained that one of the few positives to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic was the increase in cycling that had been seen across the county when the roads had been quiet and her Motion sought to build on that. She felt it was a joy to explore the Borough on a bicycle and, whilst accepting that the Highways Authority was the lead authority in terms of cycleways, the Motion hoped to promote Tewkesbury Borough Council as a leader in supporting such initiatives. She was of the view that the kind of support offered could include press releases, social media, articles on the website and in the Borough News. The Motion also provided the opportunity for Tewkesbury Borough Council to show its support publicly for the County Council and its cycling and walking initiatives. In addition, she hoped Tewkesbury Borough Council could put pressure on the County Council to start the Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington cycleway. The seconder of the Motion agreed, and indicated that, essentially, the Motion asked the Borough Council to publicly confirm its support for cycling, as well as the County Council’s initiative on cycling, and asked the County Council to push forward a scheme which was well overdue.

30.9          During the discussion which ensued, a Member noted that sustrans had been an initiative for active travel which the Borough Council had supported several years previously and that had included a cycleway between Bishop’s Cleeve and Gotherington so he questioned why that had not yet been built. Another Member indicated that sustrans was still in existence and was creating a national network of cycling routes across the country working alongside County Councils. He knew the organisation had done a considerable amount of work in the Borough over the years but could not recall the previous discussions about a Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington cycleway.

30.10        The view was expressed that the Motion contained quite a lot of misunderstanding. The Member indicated that both the Borough and County Councils had done a lot of promotion of safe cycling and safe cycleways; specifically, Tewkesbury Borough Council had been asked by the County Council to put forward its top three schemes which it had done. He felt the reality was that the Borough Council had been promoting effective cycling for a long time and as such the Motion was not necessary. In respect of the Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington cycleway, he felt there was confusion about what was available. To his knowledge there was no Section 106 Agreement for the specific cycleway from Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington, there was due to be a cycleway installed on Gotherington Lane as part of the development in Gotherington which would result in changes to the road layout but that was currently being assessed. The Section 106 Agreement specifically related to cycle signage around the Borough and the footway/cycle link between Bishop’s Cleeve and Cheltenham which was an entirely separate scheme. Overall, he felt the Borough Council was at the forefront of safe cycling and cycleways which was in direct conflict with the sentiment of the Motion being considered. In expressing an alternative view, a Member indicated that she supported the Motion as the Council had previously declared a climate emergency and safe cycling went a long way to reducing carbon emissions which was one of the Council’s aims. She agreed that the uptake in cycling had been helped by the lockdown earlier in the year and she really wanted to see the Council do everything it could to support the continuation of that habit.

30.11        In endorsing the previous comments against the Motion, a Member was disappointed and saddened by the amount of work that the Borough and County Councils had done to date which was not recognised by the Motion. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, work had been ongoing on cycling strategies and the two authorities had worked together to deliver great schemes such as the cycleway from Mitton to Tewkesbury Town; the extension to the Newtown cycle track – which was one of the most used in the county seeing 550 daily movements; discussions about the cycleway between Cheltenham and Gloucester which would go right through the heart of Churchdown; the Cheltenham to Bishop’s Cleeve cycleway which should come online next year; as well as the ‘travel by cycle’ five year strategy which sought to build a network, meaning someone could get on a bike in Tewkesbury and cycle to Tetbury. Another Member agreed with that view and added that the Tewkesbury Borough Plan showed clearly how the Council felt about safe cycling schemes through the policies within it which supported active travel.

30.12        A number of Members felt that there were cycling and walking links missing in their particular communities despite the amount of building that had taken place across a number of large developments. Whilst they accepted there was progress with cycle links in some areas, this was not the case in every area and this did need to be addressed; they felt that, however well the Council was already doing, more could always be done. One Member expressed concern about the tone of some of the debate so far which had been unhelpful and that, in her view, any Motion that a Member felt was worthy of being discussed at Council should be shown a level of respect without the proposer and seconder feeling discredited. Other Members agreed and felt the Motion was about acknowledging that more could always be done to keep residents safe; particularly when new developments were being built, and changes were being made to the highway anyway, the Council could push for the addition of cycle lanes etc. It was also suggested that, if some Members knew more than others about schemes that were being put forward, there may need to be clearer communication about those things between Councillors. In terms of the suggestion that there was to be no cycleway between Bishop’s Cleeve and Gotherington, the proposer of the Motion advised that Officers had shown her a route map for the proposed path so if it was actually not happening, as had been muted by another Member, this was certainly a very confusing picture.

30.13        A Member indicated that he was an avid supporter of cycling; however, he was concerned about the Motion as it set out a public statement of intent about things the Council was already doing, it sought to offer support to the County Council which, again, was something the Borough Council already did, and it asked the County Council to prioritise one particular area – Bishop’s Cleeve and Gotherington – above other areas such as Brockworth, Churchdown and Twigworth which were also in need of active travel connections. A Member proposed an amendment, which the proposer and seconder of the original Motion agreed, that point 3 of the Motion be amended from “ask the County Council to prioritise the works of the highways legal team to ensure that the Bishop’s Cleeve to Gotherington cycleway is not delayed further, with a request for work to start on building the cycleway by the end of the current financial year” to “ask the County Council to work alongside Tewkesbury Borough Council to identify and prioritise areas within the Borough that are in desperate need of cycling routes”. Some Members felt the amendment did not offer any clarity on what was required, whereas, others felt it was a good amendment which made it clear there were a number of areas across the Borough that were in need of cycling facilities.

30.14        It was proposed and seconded that point 3 of the Motion be amended to ask the County Council to work alongside Tewkesbury Borough Council to identify and prioritise areas within the Borough that are in desperate need of cycling routes. A recorded vote was requested and, upon receiving the appropriate level of support, voting was recorded as follows:

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

C L J Carter

R A Bird

H S Munro

J H Evetts

C M Cody

G F Blackwell

R J G Smith

A Hollaway

L A Gerrard

G J Bocking

R J Stanley

D J Harwood

K J Cromwell

 

 

M L Jordan

M Dean

 

 

P W Ockelton

R D East

 

 

P E Smith

P A Godwin

 

 

C Softley

M A Gore

 

 

S A T Stevens

D W Gray

 

 

M G Sztymiak

E J MacTiernan

 

 

S Thomson

J R Mason

 

 

P N Workman

H C McLain

 

 

 

P D McLain

 

 

J W Murphy

 

 

 

A S Reece

 

 

 

C Reid

 

 

 

J K Smith

 

 

 

V D Smith

 

P D Surman

 

 

 

R J E Vines

 

 

 

M J Williams

 

 

30.15        With 12 votes in favour, 21 against and three abstentions, the amendment was lost.

30.16        A recorded vote was requested and, upon receiving the appropriate level of support, voting on the original Motion was recorded as follows:

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

C L J Carter

R A Bird

J H Evetts

C M Cody

G F Blackwell

 

A Hollaway

L A Gerrard

G J Bocking

 

D J Harwood

K J Cromwell

 

 

M L Jordan

M Dean

 

 

H S Munro

R D East

 

 

P W Ockelton

P A Godwin

 

 

P E Smith

M A Gore

 

 

R J G Smith

D W Gray

 

 

C Softley

E J MacTiernan

 

 

R J Stanley

J R Mason

 

 

S A T Stevens

H C McLain

 

 

M G Sztymiak

P D McLain

 

 

S Thomson

J W Murphy

 

 

P N Workman

A S Reece

 

 

 

C Reid

 

 

 

J K Smith

 

 

 

V D Smith

 

P D Surman

 

 

 

R J E Vines

 

 

 

M J Williams

 

 

30.17        With 15 in favour and 21 votes against, the Motion was lost.

30.18        Accordingly, it was

                 RESOLVED           That the Motion not be approved.