Affordability concerns raised on Active Travel Act

 

Local government compliance with the pioneering Active Travel (Wales) Act is 'heavily dependent on funding' due to the Act's high route maintenance standards, a council has warned.

All 22 unitary authorities in Wales must submit maps of existing active travel routes to the Welsh Government by 22 January. Later they will submit maps of aspirational routes, which they must implement progressively.

Vale of Glamorgan is preparing to consult the public on its draft maps but has warned that the high maintenance standards needed is an issue of concern.

Lis Burnett, cabinet member for regeneration, told cabinet colleagues this week: ‘The criteria that active travel routes have to meet are extremely high and do not reflect the council’s own maintenance standards, or the standards that councils are legally bound to consider when carrying out risk assessments on walked routes to school.

‘Therefore, a route that is deemed available as an appropriate walking route to school, in accordance with the Learner Travel Wales Measure, may not meet the criteria as an active travel route.’

The council also had its own maintenance standards for roads or footways, she said. ‘Hence, the routes for active travel reflect Welsh Government’s aspirations for providing new facilities, but are all heavily dependent on available funding to deliver such routes.’

However, Sustrans Cymru – which has audited draft maps for Vale of Glamorgan and other authorities – said the design guidelines covered a variety of measures, some of which were straightforward.

Director Jane Lorimer told Transport Network: ‘There are some suggested design schemes in there which are complex junctions and may have a high price tag, but overall the design standard is about ensuring that the investment gives us the best possible value for money.

‘Quite often we see the reverse – that authorities are putting in expensive design details unnecessarily.’

The Act would ensure money spent on active travel schemes was used appropriately rather than wasted on poorly designed schemes which the public would ignore, she added.

 
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