- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 17th July, 2019 2.00 pm (Item 7.)
To consider any items which the Chair has agreed to have submitted as urgent.
The Chair introduced the highways improvements to Great Ancoats Street as an item of urgent business, stating that she had been approached by a number of Members and concerned residents regarding the scheme and the provision of cycle lanes within the design.
Chris Paul addressed the Committee and stated that in his view the scheme was not in keeping with the Our Manchester Approach and was contrary to existing policies regarding emission reductions, climate change, health and the promotion of alternative transport. He stated that he felt that the design was constructed around the need of car users and was not logical. He stated that other countries had successfully delivered cycling schemes in consultation with communities and all road users and provided examples of where this had been achieved. He stated that he believed that the consultation had been unsatisfactory and more citizen involvement and participation in the design of such schemes was required.
The Committee then heard from Callum, Climate Emergency Manchester. He said that the scheme would maintain the current levels of car use and was not appropriate and contrary to the Climate Emergency that had been recently adopted by Council.
A Member commented that he welcomed the spend and investment in the highways and the improvements to the footpaths, green planting and road crossings that had been included in the design, however he expressed concern on the level of consultation with local residents.
A Member commented that the scheme should be reviewed in light of the Climate Emergency that had been adopted by Council at their meeting of 10 July 2019.
The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport responded by stating that she recognised that people did care about safe cycling and made reference to the significant investment of new cycling infrastructure across the city and in particular in the area itself. She commented that the scheme had started to be delivered, stating that Great Ancoats was an extremely busy route and the scheme would deliver twelve new safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists and deliver an improved and safer connectivity to the city centre for residents in Ancoats. In addition, the scheme would deliver physical improvements, such as wider pavements, tree planting and reduced noise from vehicles as a result of new materials used in the highway.
She stated that the existing cycle lane was a line of paint 250m long and inefficient
and the two parallel cycle corridors was an enhanced offer to cyclists. She also said
that Great Ancoats Street is not on the Bee Network map.
In regard to the issue of consultations she stated that she always sought opportunities to review and improve how these were delivered, commenting on the recent consultation exercise in relation to the Chorlton cycle route where additional events had been facilitated, walkabouts with Councillors and businesses organised and the consultation period extended.
In response to a question from a Member, the Director of Operations Highways confirmed that the funding deadlines or alternative funding did not influence the final design and the scheme would be completed by February 2021.
The Chair commented that the Our Manchester approach needed to be applied to all consultations with local residents and ward Members involved. In response to Members comments regarding the need to ensure that similar large scale schemes were subject to scrutiny at an earlier stage to allow Members to adequately scrutinise proposals, the Chair said she would look into how this could be scheduled into the Committee’s work programme.
A Member commented that he did not want to block the development as there were a number of positive proposals within the scheme. He recommended that a consultation exercise on the scheme be undertaken over the summer period that included a number of drop in events organised for local residents, businesses, cycle users and local Members, and that any recommendations from local Members following the consultation exercise should then be relayed to the Chair of the Committee, and as long as the Chair was satisfied that the consultation had taken place the Committee should accept her recommendations.
The Chair stated that the Committee could not put the development on hold as it was not a decision for the Committee and she supported the recommendation proposed by the Member, noting that it would be an opportunity to provide information to the public.
To recommend that a consultation exercise on the scheme be undertaken over the summer period that included a number of drop in events organised for local residents, businesses, cycle users and local Members, and that any recommendations from local Members following the consultation exercise should then be relayed to the Chair of the Committee, and as long as the Chair was satisfied that the consultation had taken place the Committee should accept her recommendations.