The Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability presented the two recommendations, which were referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, regarding Sustainable Travel Town Bids.
Councillor Bell said that she supported the idea behind these proposals and she had some reservations coming from a more rural community where public transport made accessing towns by any means other than a car quite difficult. She said that in general this report went some way towards making East Herts a more carbon neutral community by reducing pollution on the road network.
Councillor Goldspink stated that she found this proposition difficult for several reasons. She supported the idea of a sustainable travel town and said that the County Council’s picture of a town in which everyone walked, cycled or used public transport was a most attractive picture. She said however that there were some flaws in the detailed plans as there was no mention of how public transport would be provided and there was no allocated budget.
Councillor Goldspink said that the criteria for becoming a sustainable travel town contained some drastic changes to the planning requirements such as high density housing with no parking spaces or at the very least with reduced parking standards. She said that she could not support these recommendations and with regret would be voting against them as she was not content with it being made impossible for people to own cars due to there being nowhere to park.
Councillor Crystall defended the idea of the sustainable travel town programme. He said that the proposals had to be considered as a whole as they did include improved bus and train services, bus priority infrastructure, improved cycle and pedestrian access and park and ride. He said that if these elements were taken together and were implemented on a long terms basis, it might be possible to arrive at a point in a couple of years where free parking in towns and parking on developments could be reduced.
Councillor Wilson said that he praised the general direction of Hertfordshire County Council and East Herts Council. He stated that he was supportive of modal shift and sustainable transport. He talked about the context of the proposals and said that the most important things were incentives and investment. He said that the infrastructure was not in place for some vital journeys that people needed to make, to Epping, Stevenage and Cambridge.
Councillor Wilson stated that he believed that a reduction in car parking would be overly draconian and unfair. He concluded that he would be supporting these proposals as doing something was better than doing nothing.
Councillor Curtis said that some important points had been raised by the opposition Members. He highlighted the fact that the Executive was recommending that the Council was supportive of the aspirations of policy LTP4 regarding sustainable travel towns. He said that the infrastructure must be in place for alternative forms of travel before there was a move towards sustainable travel towns.
Councillor Redfern said that she wanted to support the proposals but felt unable to do so due to a number of specific points mentioned in the report. She referred in particular to the situation for residents in remote villages with no bus services.
Following a number of points made by Councillor Redfern regarding parking, Councillor McAndrew raised a point of order and said that the matter being considered by Members was sustainable travel town bids and not the Review of Outcomes of the Parking Task and Finish Group, which was the next item.
Councillor Kemp said that one thing that was clear was that Councillors wanted to see sustainable transport developed and encouraged wherever possible. He said that there was no one size fits all solution and sustainable travel town status would not work for some towns. He said that it should be down to individual towns to make a choice whether or not to seek sustainable travel town status.
Councillor Goldspink raised a point of order in that if the Council supported these bids in principle, the District Council would be responsible for signing up to actions including significant changes to the planning regulations. Councillor McAndrew made a number of points regarding the ten applications that had been made to the County Council for towns seeking sustainable travel town status. He said that funding could be secured via Section 106 legal agreements in support of sustainable transport.
Councillor McAndrew proposed that the recommendations in the Executive report (at Minute 295 above), be supported. Councillor Devonshire seconded the proposal. The motion to support the recommendation having been put to the meeting, and a vote taken, was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that (A) East Herts Council supports in principle the aspirations of LTP4 and the Sustainable Travel Town Criteria; and
(B) East Herts Council supports in principle towns wishing to submit bids for Sustainable Travel Town Status.