At the last meeting of Bury Council, your local Liberal Democrat councillors asked our full quota of questions as always. Here are some of the highlights:
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about Electric Vehicle Charging Points
How is the rollout of electric charging points going in the Borough and what is the Council doing to ensure good quality and access of these charging points?
The Council has recently completed the procurement for a supplier to install Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVCI) at Bradley Fold and Bury Cemetery to allow the council to charge the electric vehicles that will be procured as part of the ongoing actions to green our fleet. These new chargepoints will be installed by the summer 2022.
During 2021 we worked with TfGM to use Government Clean Air Early Measures funding to install 2 rapid chargers at The Millgate and The Rock Shopping Centre car parks. These are both now in full operation.
Work is progressing with TFGM to install 3 rapid charging hubs for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles. The proposed are sites currently undergoing feasibility studies with a view to installation later in 2022.
We are also commencing a procurement process to appoint a contractor to be able to bid for Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) for On- Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS) funding. This funding pays towards the installation of public electric vehicle chargepoints aimed at residents without access to off-street parking.
We have developed a long list of possible locations for public chargepoints throughout our borough and this is currently going through our approval process.
Once a list of sites has been agreed this will put the Council in a better position to apply for funding or to explore alternative options to install charging infrastructure.
Councillor Steve Wright asked about No Idling Zones outside Schools:
What progress has been made on plans to implement ‘no idling’ zones outside schools in Bury, as agreed upon at a Council meeting three years ago?
We are committed to address the issue of idling vehicles specifically where it can impact on vulnerable members of our community.
In the UK, it is illegal under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily whil that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Doing this can incur a £20 fixed penalty fine under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002.
This is only imposed if the driver fails to turn off their engine when asked to do so. Enforcement of this legislation sits with local authorities and the legal powers are in place for parking enforcement officers to issue the necessary fixed penalty notices. As the enforcing officer has to give the driver the opportunity to switch off the engine first and the penalty for idling is relatively small (£20),
Greater Manchester Local Authorities do not consider the Regulation to be an effective deterrent.
The Government has previously announced proposals to consult on toughening up rules on vehicle idling and increasing fines for drivers who leave their engine running while parked. The GM Authorities have written to the Transport Secretary asking for the launch of the public consultation on this issue to be brought forward. Given limited council resources along with the limited enforcement deterrent, Bury and the other GM Authorities are planning to focus more on awareness raising campaigns in the first instance. The aim will be to inform our populations of the impacts of idling vehicles on air quality and therefore health.
With this in mind, in 2021 the council purchased 3 air quality sensors which are being located outside schools to show the impact of the school run on local air quality emissions. These sensors will be moved around our schools on a rota basis and council officers will work with the schools and parents to help raise awareness of the impacts of poor air quality on health and the benefits of walking and cycling as a means of getting to and from school.
We are also working with TFGM to develop “School Streets” in our borough and have recently been notified that 3 “School Street” schemes have been approved for Guardian Angel RC Primary, Chesham Primary and Hazel Wood High School. These schemes will allow us to restrict access to motorised traffic outside schools at drop off and pick up times. We will gain experience and learning from these first schemes which should allow us to roll out similar schemes at a wider range of our schools.
Councillor Michael Powell asked about Metrolink Price Increases:
Could the Authority’s spokesperson on the Greater Manchester Transport Authority inform members on the percentage increase on the average Metrolink fare in each of the previous five years, and proposed fare increases going forwards?
The table below shows the overall price increase of Metrolink fares in recent years. The % increases represent a ‘weighted average’, as there are many types of fares and ticketing products and limitations on cash handling vending machines that require fares to be in multiples of 10p. As a result, individual fares can be above or below that ‘weighted average’ increase.
* Provided for comparison as an indication of how Metrolink’s costs change. Measured in July of each of the years listed. The most recently published RPI figure (at November 2021) was 7.1%. The December RPI figure is due to be published during January.
TfGM is reviewing Metrolink fare levels in the context of the ongoing uncertainty in relation to ongoing government funding/ support beyond March 2022; and the aspiration for an integrated public transport network, with attractively priced, simply structured and integrated fares and ticketing.
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about fire safety in High Rise buildings:
Could the Authority’s spokesperson on the Greater Manchester Police and Fire Committee inform members on how many homes are affected by the revised Government guidance for higher rise buildings, and what work both the fire service and the local authority can do to inform residents of their increased access to funds?
GMFRS plays an active role in the Greater Manchester High Rise and Building Safety Task Force and also works closely with housing providers and managing agents responsible for the management of blocks of flats both inspecting buildings, holding information events and providing advice. We also work hard to support residents in individual buildings affected by fire safety issues and work closely with the Manchester Cladiators who represent affected residents.
GMFRS welcomed the recent announcement of the Secretary of State which set out the future approach of Government to tacking the building safety crisis and a further commitment to protecting leaseholders from the costs of work to make their homes safe. It is not possible to estimate how many buildings are affected by the changes as the announcement was focussed on a change in policy approach and no details of how any additional funds will be made available or administered have been announced.
Therefore, at this stage GMFRS cannot determine how many buildings will benefit from the change of direction indicated by the Government. The current Building Safety Fund only covers buildings over 18metres and will only fund work to remove and replace combustible cladding. This means that all buildings under 18m are not eligible for funding and many buildings are unable to access funding to carry out all of the necessary works as the fund will not meet the costs of fixing compartmentation breaches or works like installing missing cavity barriers. There are currently 171 blocks of flats across Greater Manchester which have identified fire safety defects which are so serious they have been necessitated a change to the evacuation strategyawayfromStayPut.Ofthesebuildings 33areunder18mand the fire safety issues are not all related to external fire spread. GMFRS has proactively shared information and advice from Government since 2017 and will continue to do so. We will be writing to housing providers and managing agents in relation to the change in Government advice on fire safety in buildings and the introduction of a new standard for fire risk assessments. A further information event will be held when the Fire Safety Act comes into force which is anticipated to be in February. As information becomes available following the Government announcement we will proactively share this and work with the Manchester Cladiators to provide information to residents.
In addition in January 2021 GMFRS and the GMCA agreed to administer the Waking Watch Relief Fund for Greater Manchester for buildings over 18m and secured and approved £2.4m of funding for the installation of fire alarms of which £1.5m has been paid out with installation of alarms completed in all but 3 developments with work ongoing to install the alarm in those buildings. The Secretary of State announced a further expansion of the scheme to include buildings under 18m and the GMFRS has agreed in principle to oversee the administration of this funding.”
Bury Council will be liaising with the Fire service and including advice in comms once everything is clarified.
Let us know if you have any questions. The full papers are here.