Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities Portfolio Update

To receive a portfolio update on the Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities priorities

Minutes:

The Chair agreed to members of the public addressing the Panel, and invited them to address the Panel first. The Panel was addressed by Darryl Chamberlain who raised the following questions:

1) Has the Council reviewed its backing for Silvertown Tunnel now the Gallions Reach Bridge scheme has been dropped? Neither that nor the Belvedere Bridge appear in the TfL business plan and it's widely understood that both schemes have been quietly dropped?

2) We learned at the Silvertown Tunnel hearing last week that the Woolwich Road Flyover/Angerstein Roundabout has been removed from TfL's plan to upgrade road junctions to make them safer. It appeared under the last mayor's Better Junctions scheme, but apparently does not appear in the current mayor's Safer Junctions scheme, and work has been dropped because of the shortening of Cycle Superhighway 4 to Greenwich Town Centre. Can you tell me the current position and what the Council is doing to ensure this junction is made safer, whether or not the tunnel is built?

 

Councillor Sizwe James, Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities, presented the report and highlighted the progress made against his Cabinet portfolio. He commented on the effect of population growth and its pressure on infrastructure and public services, while at the same time the community, business, visitors and students, had ever greater expectations of the Borough. They had to find new ways of doing things and it was felt that smart city innovation could form part of the solution. The priority now was to oversee the embedding of the smart city strategy and digital agenda to 2018 and beyond.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities gave an update to paragraph 5.5 of the report, informing the Panel that the Secretary of State had rejected the devolution of suburban rail services to the Mayor of London; the Leader of the Council had written to the Secretary of State expressing her disappointment in that decision and asking him to reconsider. In relation to Section 10 he informed the Panel that Street Feast were not now coming to the Woolwich Covered Market, and so they were now looking at two other providers. The traders at the Covered Market had submitted a petition saying they wanted more time and help to relocate.

 

In response to the points raised by Darryl Chamberlain the Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities replied that the Council had been consistently supportive of a package of crossings with integrated public transport noting it was also about resilience and supporting growth; the matter of the Tunnel was now with the Planning Inspectorate to decide. They were pleased that the Mayor of London was committed to additional bus services through the Silvertown Tunnel, a DLR extension to Thamesmead, and a ferry from North Greenwich to Canary Wharf, but were disappointed about the absence of a specific reference to other crossings in the Business Plan and they would be asking the Mayor of London to review that position. Greenwich had argued that there should be improvements to the Angerstein roundabout junction in their submission to the Silvertown Tunnel inquiry, the Planning Inspector could determine whether or not to include that proposal

 

The Panel discussed Silvertown Tunnel. It was felt that there would be pressure at the Tunnel from more vehicles. The Cabinet Member was requested to look at why other boroughs were objecting to the proposals, because they were concerned about the mitigation, yet Greenwich was not.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities accepted that that there might be more pressure at one crossing and that was why the Council supported a package of crossings. He would look at why other Boroughs had objected to the Silvertown Tunnel. 

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) added that TfL would say that the modelling for the Silvertown Tunnel was done in isolation of other crossings. It was Greenwich's view that notwithstanding Silvertown Tunnel being built the pressure on the region would be lessened if there were more crossings and that had been put to the Inspector.

 

The Panel raised the matter of tree planting.

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) explained that Greenwich did use s106 money for tree planting but generally as part of wider public realm development rather than specifically for tree planting. Funding, however, was not a constraint, it was finding the spot to plant as they had to consider cables underground or the of risk subsidence for example.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities said he would be considering the Council’s tree policy.

 

List of tree planting by ward to be circulated

Action: DRES

 

The Panel asked whether more could be done for cycle safety and to support CS4.

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) clarified that cycle safety was a Council priority, and the Council had a strategy which include cycle safety training. Roadwatch was a good scheme, and it was for pedestrians as well as cyclists, and the Council was working closely with Police to spread the scheme across the Borough.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities stated that the Council would be supporting the extension of CS4.

 

The Panel asked what plans were there to improve Greenwich pier.

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) advised that TfL had proposals for redeveloping a pier in the Westminster area, to include retail, and they would learn from that for piers elsewhere. TfL recognised that Greenwich pier was substandard and needed investment.

 

The Panel queried parking enforcement notices and the parking revenue budget.

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) explained that he was the Officer responsible for generating the parking revenue budget. The Council's under-recovery of parking revenue income against target was about £2million but there was some indication that they were reducing that deficit; he clarified that it was not that the service was making a loss it was not making the surplus as envisaged. The Parking Action Plan would make a further dent in the deficit in the new year. He clarified that one of the objectives of the parking strategy was to support sustainable transport, and the Parking Action Plan would provide the detail of how do that. He indicated that there had been an increase in the issue of PCNs. Changes to the shift pattern for enforcement officers would mean out-of-standard-hours coverage.

 

 

PCN data for last three years to be circulated

Action: DRES

 

The Panel considered the Tall Ships Business Engagement and sought assurance that activities would be spread across Woolwich Town Centre and not just in the Royal Arsenal so that all local businesses benefited. It was noted that engineering works on the trains were scheduled for the same time as the event.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities stated that the main focus for business engagement was the Town Centre, and noted that the Council was aware of the A206 being seen as a potential barrier and that was an issue they were trying to address.

 

The Assistant Director for Employment and Skills informed the Panel there was a small community pot that local traders could bid into to put on additional activities.

 

The Assistant Director, Regeneration Enterprise and Skills (Transportation) confirmed that there would be limited train service, particularly on the Greenwich line, due to works at London Bridge during the event, and it was not possible for those works to be postponed. The other ways get to Greenwich and were all mapped out in the travel plan.

 

The Panel discussed the proposals for the Woolwich Covered Market.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities said they wanted the new Woolwich Covered Market to be an attraction, and they wanted to launch it at the Tall Ships festival. The Council wanted the Covered Market to specialise in food, and that was not currently on offer; the Council would seek to try and help the current traders to relocate. The Council was working with the Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency to make sure local businesses were involved.

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities suggested that the Panel might like to consider the proposals for Beresford Square market as an item for their work programme.

Action: Scrutiny

 

The Panel questioned the effect of Welfare Reform.

 

The Assistant Director for Employment and Skills explained that prior to changes made at the end of 2016 there had been 166 families impacted by the reforms, but with the new reduction there were another 287 families. The Welfare Reform Team prioritised those most impacted, which was those were a family member would be losing £150 or more per week. Many of those impacted had not worked on average ten years or more or not at all. Of those affected over three quarters were lone parents, with an average age of 37/38. Temporary opportunities offered through Gllab, for example, provided a stepping stone into employment; over 75 people had been helped into sustainable jobs since 2013. Where the barrier to working was so significant they looked engage with other household members to break the generational cycle.

 

The Panel discussed Smart Cities. It was queried whether Brexit would affect bidding for EU contracts. It was requested that progress against the strategy and objectives be clarified and detail given of expected outcomes.

 

The Director of Digital Greenwich stated that Brexit had not affected bids. The core principle was the Greenwich Smart City Strategy must be integrated and embedded in everything that was done. A one year review was scheduled to be produced in the first quarter of 2017. It was suggested it might be difficult to quantify some of the impacts of progression in terms of the local economy with regard to the whole approach. The programme was not to specifically create jobs but it was expected that businesses would be attracted to the Borough by the programme. One of the core impacts sought for the autonomous vehicles was they were seeking to improve mobility in the borough; a measure of success would be to attract manufacturers of such vehicles if not for the manufacture of the vehicles then perhaps for their software for example.

 

Future reports to include progress against the Greenwich Smart City Strategy, with a tabular output showing outcomes to give an indication of economic benefits created for the borough.

Action: Digital Greenwich

 

The Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities invited Panel Members to visit the offices at Mitre Passage. The Chair added that Digital Greenwich Unit / Digital Greenwich Cities Limited might also be something to be considered under the future Scrutiny work programme.

Action: Scrutiny

 

The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Smart Cities for his report.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

Supporting documents: