Agenda item

Questions asked under Standing Order 7(1)(2) and (5).


(A)   Mr Bray asked the following question of the Leader or his nominee:-


“On-street parking remains a major problem in many streets in Hinckley town centre. Could the Leader please update me on progress of the promised long-awaited review?”


Mr Pain replied as follows:-


“As part of the Council’s Sustainable Travel Strategy a large investment programme was developed for Hinckley and in July 2014 the Council was successful in securing the funding for this, via the Government’s Single Local Growth Fund.


In order to deliver the programme smoothly it was spilt into four zones.  The fourth and final zone concentrates on Hinckley town centre and includes the implementation of parking restrictions where required. The implementation of Zone Four is programmed for the summer of 2019.


To inform the programme and ensure that it is developed on the basis of the latest evidence, the Council has already begun gathering data, undertaking parking surveys and engaging with the Hinckley Business Improvement District and the Borough Council.


Any proposals for parking restrictions will be subject to a formal consultation process where members of the public and businesses will be able to comment before any decision is made.”


(B)   Mr Bray asked the following question of the Leader or his nominee:-


“Despite efforts by St Peter's School and the County Council a crossing patrol has not been recruited for London Road, a busy through route in Hinckley town centre.  Would the Leader consider an urgent request from the Head Teacher for a permanent crossing on London Road as she has reported several "near misses”?


Mr Pain replied as follows:-


“The County Council will always consider requests for pedestrian crossings.  On receipt of the request an assessment is carried out to evaluate the need for the crossing based on nationally set criteria.


An assessment of this kind was undertaken directly outside the school in 2018; however the results did not meet the necessary criteria for the provision of a crossing.


A school safety zone is in operation with an advisory twenty mile an hour speed limit in place covering the school’s start and finish times.  In addition, the school has also recently asked to join the school camera car enforcement scheme.


The County Council has been liaising with the Head Teacher since the patrol resigned and continues to actively try and recruit to the role.


Recruiting to patrol vacancies, however, remains an issue across the county in general and I would urge everyone to encourage members of the public to apply for these vital community roles should the opportunity arise.”


Mr Bray asked the following supplementary question:-


“Since I tabled the question I have also received a letter from Tom, a year five pupil on the School Council, explaining the dangers that he and his friends face every day going to this school.  He has invited me to come along to the School Council and attend one of their meetings. I just wondered whether the Lead Member would be willing to join me in that meeting with the School Council to explain the County Council's decision?


Mr Pain replied as follows:-


“I would be happy to join Mr. Bray at the school meeting, time permitting and if we can make sure that diaries can be arranged as such, and explain to the year five pupil. We are aware of the year five pupil writing into the Department and that year five pupil will get a full response as we do with all our residents and constituents.”


(C)   Mr Hunt asked the following question of the Leader or his nominee:-


“I am sure the Leader is aware that members are continually vexed by complaints of irresponsible parking and hopeless traffic management around primary and secondary schools in the county.


1.     Is the Leader satisfied that the County Council is responding adequately and, if so, is it time for the schools to take the lead because the situation is definitely getting worse?


2.     Would he agree that we have three tools at our disposal: enforceable parking restrictions (the stick); up to date, well advertised and monitored school travel plans (the carrot); and highway improvements (including those for walking and cycling)?


3.     Since the County is responsible for Civil Parking Enforcement on street, is the Leader satisfied that we have the capacity to enforce on-street parking surrounding primary schools, in particular?  If so will he ensure this is carried out?


4.     I welcome any new initiative such as the School Clear Zone project but has it established any long term successes at any school which can be replicated throughout the county and if so does the latest MTFS allow for this?


5.     With only 57 schools bothering to sign up to School Clear Zone last year and very few actively using and updating school travel plans, what can we do to encourage Heads to take school travel more seriously or should we be approaching Chairs of Governors instead?


6.     In September 2015 the Chair of Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee said that we had invested in a system called iTRACE, a ‘sophisticated monitoring tool’ for travel plans.  Is it being used and if so with what purpose and effect?


7.     In that year we were engaging with 50 schools in the Modeshift national STARS scheme for online monitoring of school travel plans and 13 had achieved Gold standard.  Is the scheme effective and if so how many schools have achieved Gold standard and with how many schools are we currently engaged?


8.     How many schools have shared their travel plans with us in the current council year and what do we do with them when they do?


9.     Where highway improvements may improve conditions around schools, is the authority willing to progress work if funded by Parish or Town Councils, as I believe was stated in the presentation by the Assistant Director in his recent excellent presentation?”


Mr Pain replied as follows:-


“1.    Parking in the vicinity of schools is undoubtedly an issue that has been growing in people’s consciousness over recent years.  The anti-social behaviour by parents and carers is something that the Council takes very seriously and measures are being put in place to tackle this where they can be enforced and make a difference.  The schools themselves are fundamental to the success of these measures and are key to tackling the problem.


2.     Yes I agree, these are the key tools that the Council has at its disposal; however it should be remembered that parking restrictions are limited to outside of the school, as outlined in the school parking scrutiny report in 2017.


3.     The Council partners with the district councils to enforce parking restrictions.  With the recent introduction of the school camera enforcement car, the Council is now in a position to further enforce the parking restrictions that are in place outside of the school. In many cases the inconsiderate parking in the immediate surroundings of the school cannot be solved or influenced by enforcement.


4.     The School Camera Car Scheme, which is the project I believe you are referring to, commenced in April 2018 and has funding for two years.  It is not yet possible to determine whether there has been any sustainable change at individual schools.  At the end of the project the data will be assessed and a report taken to the Environment and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee, at which point the position regarding continued funding will be evaluated.  However an initial clear zone pilot project that took place earlier last year has seen positive behaviour change, although it should be noted that in this case, as well as enforcement, the stick, a number of carrots were used, including behaviour change initiatives such as the park and stride scheme, where parents were encouraged to park in a local public house car park and walk to the school from there.


5.     The good news is that the since the start of the project additional schools have signed up.  We now have 135 schools taking part or requesting to be considered.  Schools in general are working positively with the Council to tackle the issues that arise from inconsiderate parking.  The Council is also actively working with other partners such as Sustrans and Leicestershire and Rutland Sport, to deliver a joined up approach at a level never achieved before. 


Measures are also being put in place to actively engage with head teachers, using the local head teacher email group.  Promoting local and national events, including Road Safety Week, Cycle to Work Day, and the Big Pedal; the Council offers all head teachers support if they wish to participate in these events.


6.     iTRACE was a travel planning tool, that is no longer used.  The online monitoring tool was replaced by the Modeshift version in order to align with the national STARS scheme and encourage schools to be more active and use their travel plan in a dynamic way.


7.     30 schools are currently registered with active travel plans and are working towards Modeshift STARS accreditation.  Last year one school, Elizabeth Woodville in Groby, achieved the new Gold accreditation.  As a result they have been awarded School of the Region and are up for the School of the Year which will be awarded at Parliament in March.  In addition, Millfield Primary in Braunstone Town achieved a Silver award and Ibstock Juniors achieved Bronze. This year we anticipate at least 10 schools gaining accreditation.  


8.     Travel plans are now only part of the engagement and work that the Council undertakes with schools.  An Active Travel Schools Officer has been appointed in partnership with Leicestershire and Rutland Sport to support schools in the delivery of their travel plans.  The officer also works with schools on different kinds of positive initiatives, including running school competitions, training teachers and identifying potential “park and stride” opportunities. 


In addition the Council offers grants for schools to use to overcome barriers to active travel, such as by installing bike parking, scooter racks, extra training, umbrellas and wet weather kit for Park and Stride sites.  In total the Council is now working directly or via partners with over 9800 primary aged children, which equates to 75 primary schools across the county.


9.     If a parish, town council or other community group wishes to fully fund highway improvements with the approval of the Council, the Highways and Transport Service would support this.  It should be stressed however that all the costs of the scheme would need to be met by the funding, including officer time, legal fees and any ongoing maintenance costs.”


Mr Hunt asked the following supplementary question:-


“Response number 8 refers to the Active Travel Schools Officer, who is apparently working with 9800 primary aged children. I would like to know how many children in Loughborough are engaged in this and how we can actually access the services of the Active Travel Schools Officer, who I have heard nothing about up until now.”


Mr Pain replied as follows:-


“If we are referring to the Travel Plans and the Modeshift STARS accreditation team, I just want to point out that in 2010-11 the Government pulled funding for School Travel Plan Officers and we have since come to arrangements with what we call SSPANs, which are the School Sports Physical Activity Network Officers that are in the District and Borough Councils that go in as part of their programme and encourage children to be more active when travelling to school.  In terms of how many students in the Loughborough area are being looked after by these SSPANs I will have to refer back to the Department and get a written response to you.”