pump track design

David Wood Report – Feb 2023

Temple Cloud Parish Council Report
Dave Wood 18/2/23

Temple Cloud Speeding and Walking (Liveable Neighbourhood scheme)

As you know Temple Cloud was short-listed as one of 15 communities to benefit from a £5m pot of Liveable Neighbourhoods funding. Several rounds of community consultation took place a combination of letters, emails, online surveys and in-person
events. Most recently TCPC helped to promote an online survey to help understand residents preferences between options, to narrow the long-list of potential interventions down to a short-list based on a) resident views and b) assessing what is possible/impossible and in scope/out of scope.

The next step is for the things on the short-list to be designed and costed and either phased over time over the coming 1-4 years or narrowed down further based on practicality and budget.

The short-list is (in no particular order unless indicated otherwise):

  • Improvements to the footpath between Temple Cloud and Clutton;
  • Provision of benches and other furniture around Temple Cloud Playing Field;
  • Pedestrian priority crossings on Temple Inn Lane;
  • A controlled crossing on the A37 in the South of the village;
  • Improvements to the footpath between Cameley Surgery and the north of the village (Camley Surgery to Village Hall);
  • The provision of street lighting along the St Barnabas’ Church footpath and Brandown Close;
  • A reduced speed limit of 30mph through Temple Bridge;
  • A community gateway at the Temple Inn Lane entrance to the village;
  • Link Temple Cloud to Temple Bridge to help facilitate a circular route and better connectivity;
  • Extend the 30mph speed limit on Temple Inn Lane; and
  • Improvements to the footpath between the north-east and south of the village (Eastcourt Road to Village Hall).

Continued funding of this programme is dependent on a successful vote on the B&NES budget at Full Council on the evening of Tuesday 21/2/23 – hence my apologies for the TCPC meeting the same night!

Supported Bus Services in the Chew Valley

There is a great deal of concern across B&NES (and in the wider region) about cuts to bus services.

The relevant facts are:

  • NB: This issue has a marginal impact on Temple Cloud. The 376 and 379 are fully commercial bus routes and are not impacted by subsidy cuts. Beyond the A37 this has a big impact on the Chew Valley.
  • Most bus services are fully commercial with no subsidy and are not impacted by this current proposal. However all the Chew Valley bus services are subsidised.
  • Bus services and bus subsidies are the responsibility of the WECA Mayor, by law, rather than Councils. B&NES Council contributes c£5m to WECA each year for transport including c£700k as a contribution to bus subsidies. This is increasing to c£1m following this week’s budget. The level of subsidy from WECA required in the B&NES area has jumped from c£700k to c£3m.
  • All supported (subsidised) bus services were recently retendered by WECA and prices came back from bus companies 2 to 3 times higher than current prices. Bus companies say this is mostly down to inflation but also trouble attracting bus drivers.
  • WECA has a £50m bus budget provided by central government. In areas outside of WECA this amount is given to the Council to control (e.g. North Somerset). However the £50m comes with strings attached that whilst it can be used for new bus services it cannot be used for existing bus services.
  • Part of this money is being used to trial DRT (demand responsive transport) in North East Somerset including Chew Valley from April 2023. This is being described locally in the area as an ‘uber bus’. I feel DRT could be part of the future solution of bus services however as things stand it is untested, fairly last minute and lacking detail in parts. Experience from elsewhere in the country is that DRT can absolutely work but it does require a fair time to bed in and for users to feel comfortable with it. I don’t feel that DRT is an immediate replacement for bus services in the Chew Valley.
  • When the bus cut issue became clear just before Christmas WECA and B&NES made a joint plan for North East Somerset. This plan was new bus routes to act as replacements for bus routes being withdrawn. The reason being that WECA can use its £50m on new services but not existing.
  • This plan saw replacement of bus routes across NES, locally this included the Chew Valley Link and the Chew Magna to Bristol service. The pros of this service is that it is more frequent than the existing services. The cons are that it is slower than (say) the 672 because it would link Hinton Blewett; also you’d need to change bus at Chew Magna to get into Broadmead in Bristol.

However at least it was a frequent Chew Valley bus service.

  • Unfortunately at the 11th hour WECA decided not to fund the new bus services it had tendered in the Chew Valley (or indeed any of the NES bus services apart from the Somer Valley).
  • We continue to lobby WECA to not to leave the Chew Valley without any bus services. I certainly feel that outcome would be completely unacceptable.

LPPU Adoption

The LPPU was formally adopted by Full Council in January. There are many implications to this but two to draw attention to are:

  • Our 5-year land supply is now secure for a further 2-3 years. This means speculative development in villages like Temple Cloud are likely to fail. As you know there was a speculative application for 65 houses that was submitted and determined before the adoption of the LPPU. Just the presence of the LPPU in its final but unadopted state was enough for B&NES to confidently reject this application.
  • B&NES now becomes the first Council in England to have a net zero housing policy, including all future houses built by developers being energy self-sustaining.

New Local Plan

The new Local Plan (2022-2042) formally commences later this year but there has been consultation already with parish councillors and other stakeholders. The NLP is due for adoption in late 2025.
The timing is important on this to ensure a robust land supply to avoid speculative development (which is usually in villages) in the future.

Rural houses in the NLP / my manifesto

As I would expect the NLP consultation sessions with parish councillors reflected a concern about future housing allocations being forced on villages. This is a concern I share.
In my role as LD Manifesto Chair for the 2023-27 administration (assuming all goes as planned in the May election) I have been articulating the following:

  • Housing allocation should be towards areas of dense employment to reduce journey times
  • A presumption that B&NES should engage with parishes to find IF and where and what type of houses should be built in their parish, rather than housing allocations being forced on villages.
  • A move away from RA1/RA2 village distinctions in favour of a more general approach about distance of travel from centres of employment and services.

New Year Recycling Collections

In early 2021 and 2022 new year recycling collections locally and across B&NES were patchy to say the least, and this was raised with me several times as the responsible Cabinet Member.
The reasons in those years were a combination of low driver numbers (the national HGV driver shortage means high wages in the private sector) exacerbated by seasonal sickness (often Covid in early 2021 and 2022).

In new year this year disruption was much, much lower (I’m expecting figures to qualify this in the coming days) despite the problems of driver recruitment/retention now being a long-term national issue, and the very nasty bugs going around in this
first ‘post-pandemic’ season.

The actions we took to bring about this change were:

  • 18 months of our loader-to-driver training scheme where we employ truck loaders without HGV licenses and put them through their HGV training and test. As well as going out and selling the Council as an employer.
  • Commitment to 10% excess of drivers and loaders employed at any one time in order to account for holidays and sickness. This 10% was reached in November 2022 and made a significant impact even in the difficult winter we just had.
  • A very careful and sensitive pay negotiation that avoided any strikes.

Council Budget 2023/24

High levels of inflation have been unfortunate timing, coming off the back of Covid lost income. This means we’ve needed to find over £10m of savings again this year. I had to push extremely hard to sustain the £1m investment in street cleaning and
the £2m extra investment in road repairs. I have also pushed hard on bus funding and funding for local-level transport schemes.
I’m pleased to report that despite this we have a balanced budget for the 4th year in a row. This was only achieved once out of the previous 4 years.

  • Posted: 21st February 2023