The Chairman advised that, as discussed at the previous Board meeting, he, together with Councillors S. Colella, P. Thomas and S. Webb, together with the Strategic Planning Manager, had met with key officers from Worcestershire County Council’s (WCC) Highways Team to discuss the ongoing and historic issues in respective of highways in Bromsgrove.
The Chairman reported that previously it had been difficult to get the answers from the officers to all the questions raised and it was therefore felt that it was prudent for a small group to be set up to hold a one off private meeting to discuss the issues in more detail. It was recognised that there were traffic problems in Bromsgrove and that various models that had been considered had not been successful. The Group had discussed potential solutions to resolve the current issues going forward.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) advised that following discussions with the Chairman, she had spoken to the Strategic Planning Manager and it had been agreed that they would work together to produce a report similar in format to that of a Scrutiny Review, with a number of recommendations being included. This report would then be presented to the Board on 14th January 2019 and if agreed, would then go on to either Cabinet and/or Council for further consideration
Councillor S. Colella commented that following the meeting he had felt that the officers from WCC continued to not fully appreciate or understand the issues in relation to highways faced throughout the District. He further stated that he did not feel that the Council’s officers had gathered enough evidence to devise a report that would give a true reflection of the situation. He proposed that the Council’s current consultation in respect of the Issues and Options (part of the overall review of the Local Plan) be withdrawn, pending further detail from WCC in respect of the future infrastructure plans for Bromsgrove District.
Members discussed previous concerns which had been raised in respect of WCC’s Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) and that the Council had recommended that it was withdrawn as it was not fit for purpose. However, it had gone ahead despite the reservations of its effectiveness for Bromsgrove. It was commented that there was a need for more radical actions to be taken in order for Bromsgrove, in particular, to resolve its congestion problems.
Councillor Colella stressed that residents in Bromsgrove were continually experiencing highways issues. Members discussed that there had not been any investment provided for Bromsgrove in order to alleviate these issues and it was clear that a long term strategy was needed to address this.
As an aside, Councillor C. Bloore advised the Board that WCC was currently carrying out a consultation as part of a Bus Service Scrutiny Review. The Districts had one Member on the review but he encouraged all Members to take part in the consultation.
The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing advised that he had discussed the issues with Worcestershire Highways and also believed that WCC did not fully understand the issues in Bromsgrove. He suggested this should be escalated to the Director of Highways at WCC and agreed to discuss the issues with the Leader of WCC. Members were concerned that if the issues were not addressed quickly, that the situation would get worse for Bromsgrove in the longer term.
Members acknowledged that it was important that the County Council Officers worked with the District Officers to ensure the necessary infrastructure was put in place and a firm commitment in respect of this needed to be made by the County Council.
The Leader confirmed that he had spoken to the Strategic Planning Manager, who had provided him with a list of the areas of concern and he would be meeting with the Leader of WCC as a matter of urgency.
RECOMMENDEDthat the Issues and Options consultation process be suspended pending receipt of further information from Worcestershire County Council in respect of the future plans in respect of the infrastructure for Bromsgrove District.