Active travel fund consultation plan
This Consultation Plan sets out how consultation activities will be undertaken prior to commencing delivery of the Active Travel Fund schemes. It builds on the work that was undertaken during bid preparation when the four priority schemes were identified, as listed below. Amey Consulting’s Principal Stakeholder Manager has been appointed to the project to oversee the consultation stage and progress on delivery will be managed through the Governance process detailed in the Active Travel Fund bid.
Schemes to be taken forward to consultation
Segregated cycle route and pedestrian enhancements on Doxey Road, A518 Chell Road and A34 Foregate Street linking to Stafford Western Access Route.
Burton upon Trent
Segregated cycle route and pedestrian enhancements on Station Street between Burton rail station and town centre.
Segregated cycle routes, crossing facilities, junction narrowing and pedestrian enhancements on A5190 Lichfield Road and Hednesford Road on a bus corridor that serves Cannock rail station, local schools, the town centre and the new Designer Outlet.
Newcastle Under Lyme
Segregated cycle route and pedestrian enhancements on A52 George Street between Stoke-on-Trent City boundary (Shelton New Road) and the town centre completing the link to Stoke-on-Trent rail station.
Although the £1.83 million Tranche 2 award exceeds our expected indicative allocation of £1.446 million, it will not fund all four permanent schemes that are estimated to cost around £2.26 million to deliver. Political approval has been given to proceed to the next stage in the consultation with all four schemes and public opinion will be tested thoroughly before any of the schemes are delivered. If they all receive a good level of support, we intend to secure additional funding to enable construction of all four schemes, to ensure progress on the delivery of the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.
The County Council will ensure that community support is established for the schemes and a representative picture of local views will be sought before schemes are finalised. At the same time, a balance will be achieved between an appropriate level of consultation and timescales for delivery. It is expected that there will be a higher level of engagement on the more controversial aspects of the schemes.
Engagement with the MPs and local Councillors took place in early December 2020 immediately after the award announcement and the feedback was positive. David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport is committed to the project and will oversee all political engagement throughout the lifetime of the Active Travel Fund project. Ongoing consultation will make use of existing communication channels such as the Weekly Members bulletin.
Theo Clarke MP (Stafford), Kate Griffiths MP (Burton upon Trent), Amanda Milling MP (Cannock) and Aron Bell MP (Newcastle-under-Lyme) will be engaged throughout the process.
Engagement with local residents and businesses
Engagement with residents will encompass buy-in to the overall concept and consultation on the detailed layout of scheme options. Public opinion surveys will be conducted in line with guidance published by the DfT, with postal and online options available. The residents that will be targeted include:
- Forecast users identified through the GIS analysis completed for the LCWIP
- Residents within an appropriate buffer of the scheme
- Staffordshire County Council and Borough Council employees that live/work within the four urban areas
Survey respondents will only be asked about the scheme that is in the vicinity in which they reside or which they are likely to use. The aim will be to collect data from respondents that are representative of the local population demographics. It will also be important to ensure that the narrative makes the scheme easy to understand and explains the need to deliver safe streets for all users. Time in the programme will be required for designing and testing the survey.
Table 1 provides an indication of the number of residents and businesses within a 500m buffer around the schemes. There will be focussed consultation with businesses who rely on freight deliveries and parking along the cycle routes. Wider business engagement will make use of existing organisations such as Town Centre Partnerships, Stafford Chamber of Commerce, Staffordshire Business and Environment Network and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Table 1: Indicative number of residents and businesses to be targeted
Engagement with other stakeholders
An initial internal stakeholder mapping workshop took place on 8 December 2020 to identify known relevant contacts and engagement channels. Web-based virtual planning tools will be utilised to identify and prioritise as many internal and external stakeholders as possible. This process will be completed in December 2020. So far, this mapping process has revealed the following stakeholders, in addition to MPs, Councillors, residents and businesses:
Emergency services, bus operators, Royal Mail, four Borough Councils, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Burton Town Parish Council, Sustrans cycle volunteers, road cycling clubs, bike shops, public transport operators, taxi operators, schools (children and parents), sports and physical activity groups and leisure facilities, disability groups, Staffordshire Council Voluntary Youth Service, Road Safety Partnership and NHS Health referral programmes.
A combination of data collection methods will be used which will potentially include press releases, flyers, leaflets, letters, information boards, presentations, focus groups and drop-in sessions, all of which can be considered for physical and / or virtual only delivery. The assessment of the most appropriate tools for engagement / consultation, whilst ensuring compliance with COVID-19 mitigation / safety measures, will be completed by early January 2021, allowing time to design them, with accessibility and customer requirements in mind, ahead of the consultation window. Face-to-face consultation events and meetings are unlikely to take place due to COVID-19.
We will be using existing channels of engagement with known stakeholder groups to build advocacy for the consultation period. We will also make use of Sustrans engagement channels. Social media platforms and links within all appropriate Staffordshire County Council website pages will play an important role and use will be made of the Nextdoor – Neighbourhood app to target potential users and residents. Digital platforms do exclude some people, so where necessary physical delivery methods will be used.
Utilising other relevant Corporate engagement that is already taking place will ensure that we are not delivering Active Travel Fund engagement in isolation. This includes the sharing of communication channels used by Together Active Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and the Public Health and Prevention Team. The Public Health and Prevention Team are already developing a Whole Systems Approach to obesity bring together key stakeholders, across the system, to work in partnership in addressing obesity levels in Staffordshire. There is also the opportunity to tap into the ‘Everyone Health’ programme that offers weight management programmes for adults and ‘Time 4 Sport’ who offer weight management programmes for children and young people, together with the Do It to Feel Better campaign that links to the County Council’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan.
Before starting construction of the schemes, David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, will notify DfT that consultations have been completed with all key local stakeholders and that broad support has been obtained, including an explanation of how feedback has influenced the final scheme designs.
A Communications Plan will be produced prior to construction that summarises the results of local opinion surveys, showing reasonable evidence of consultation before schemes are introduced. This will include a summary of MPs’ responses, via a RAG rating.
It is expected that the Communication Plan and the Delivery Plan will be submitted to DfT by 31 March 2021. The Delivery Plan will include details of any necessary formal TRO consultations that are required as part of the construction phase beyond March 2021, together with Section 23 Notices required for crossing upgrades. Table 2 summarises the Consultation Programme.
Table 2: Consultation Programme
|23 November 2020
|Initial Councillor and MP engagement
|Emails sent 7 December 2020
|Stakeholder mapping workshop
|8 December 2020
|Publish Consultation Plan
|11 December 2020
|Agree consultation format and deliverables
|Confirmation of appropriate engagement tools
|Early January 2021
|Engagement with key stakeholders
|January and February 2021
|Resident survey designing and testing
|Resident survey (three-week consultation window)
|Analysis of survey responses
|Consultation on final scheme designs
|DfT notification of completed consultations
|31 March 2021
|Publication of Communication Plan
|31 March 2021
|Publication of Delivery Plan
|31 March 2021
|Formal TRO consultations
|To be determined in the Delivery Plan
As part of the construction phase, formal TRO notifications will be issued to local stakeholders by email. Residents and local businesses will be informed via letters including a CAD drawing of the proposals, a paper copy of the notice (that would ordinarily be affixed to street furniture), the plan prepared by the Regulation Unit (that would normally be sent to local libraries) and a response slip. Objections will be compiled then every objector will be informed of the outcome of the consultation either by email if possible or by issuing further letters. If no objections are received and the Objections Report is approved, the final stage of delivery will proceed immediately. If the Consultation Plan is implemented successfully, objections at the formal TRO stage are expected to be minimal.