Members considered the draft report in relation to the Transport Planning Review which outlined the findings and recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Board’s investigation.
The focus of the investigation had been to try and understand the problems and challenges faced in respect of the ongoing infrastructure problems in the district and how best to move forward in order to address these, with the support of Worcestershire County Council Highways. The ongoing problems had been well documented and the Overview and Scrutiny Board had been asked to carry out the investigation following detailed discussions at a number of Council meetings, going back as far as April 2017.
The Chairman informed Members that the Board Investigation had involved a number of meetings which had been held in both public and private session. The small sub group of Members who had attended the private meetings had been the Chairman, Councillors S. Colella, P. Thomas and S. Webb. The Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager had supported Members at all stages of the investigation. Councillor K.Pollock – Worcestershire County Council, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure had attended a meeting in order to answer the questions that Members had raised, together with a number of Worcestershire County Council officers. After much discussion it had been agreed that the best way in which to present the findings of those meetings was by preparing almost a “mini” task group report, which set out the details of the investigation together with the recommendations that were proposed.
The Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager explained to the Board that the Council was now in a different position to what it had been at the early stages of this investigation and had held detailed discussions with Worcestershire County Council (WCC) who were agreeable to a new way of working in order to address the issues which had been raised. The review of the District Plan would strengthen the Council’s position, as would the continued support the Council was receiving from Mott MacDonald.
Councillor K. Taylor, the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing said he believed that after much discussion, Worcestershire County Council were now taking seriously the concerns which had been raised by the Council.
Councillor Webb thanked everyone for their input into the investigation and gave particular thanks to the Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager for his time and patience in supporting Members at all the meetings.
Councillor S. Colella raised concerns and felt that Members of the Council should continue to put pressure on WCC to ensure that the recommendations were followed up. Councillor G. Denaro informed the Board that the Council had taken legal advice in respect of reimbursement of the costs of the work that Mott MacDonald were carrying out; however, this had not been deemed appropriate. Members requested that details of the response be shared with the Board.
The Board considered whether it would be appropriate to ask Councillor K. Pollock to add the Transport Planning Review and the recommendations from Bromsgrove District Council to WCC Cabinet’s Work Programme to ensure this was followed up. However, Councillor C. Bloore suggested that he could raise this at the next WCC Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board. Councillor C. Bloore further thanked the Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager, Councillor L. Mallett and Councillor Taylor for addressing the issues and recognising that the transport infrastructure for Bromsgrove needed to be fit for purpose. It was agreed that an additional recommendation would be added to the report to reflect this suggestion.
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman concluded by thanking everyone involved in the investigation.
The Board was advised that this report would be considered at Cabinet and Council in June 2019.
RESOLVED that the report and the recommendations included within the report be approved.
1 (a) that Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Team consults with the relevant County Councillor, when consulted with in respect of any planning applications. This should be done as a matter of course, as they may have more detailed local knowledge of a particular area.
1 (b) that BDC Members would continue to receive the weekly list of all planning applications.
2. that as part of the response to a planning application the Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Team should include a full breakdown of the costs of any infrastructure work which needs to be carried out and provide details of how this work would be funded.
3. that it was recognised that the relationship between Worcestershire County Council, this Council and its Parish Councils and residents had not been positive and that although the journey to improvement had begun, the improvements to the culture and ways of working needed to be ongoing to ensure that the improvements continued.
4. that Worcestershire County Council Highways Team recognised that there was no “one size fits all” approach. They should remain open minded and flexible in considering the approach to the analysis of planning applications before reaching any conclusions.
5. that at the earliest possible stage of the Strategic Transport Assessment the Project Officers from Worcestershire County Council and this Council arrange a briefing for Members in order to provide details of the scope of the Strategic Transport Assessment, the process and relevant timelines.
6. that this Council was fully represented on the Project Team of the Strategic Transport Assessment to be undertaken, by both officer and Member representation.
7. that, throughout the process of the Strategic Transport Assessment, the Strategic Planning Steering Group holds regular meetings dedicated to this with representatives of Worcestershire County Council in attendance, in order to provide updates and listen and take on board the views of this Council’s Members.
8. that the Overview and Scrutiny Board recognised the current need for the additional transport support from Mott MacDonald. However it requested that the Leader and Cabinet make every effort to seek re-imbursement of those costs from Worcestershire County Council.
9. that the Overview and Scrutiny Board formally writes to the Chairman of the Worcestershire Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board requesting that the report be included on its agenda for future consideration to ensure that Members and Officers at Worcestershire County Council are aware of the issues and concerns of this Council.