Councils told to consult more local people before imposing green road plans

Town halls have been ordered to consult more with local people after an outcry in The Telegraph over the way some roads have been shut and replaced with cycle lanes.

a sign on the side of a road: ANPR cars enforcing green roads are idling to power CCTV cameras fitted to the vehicle in Enfield - ©Eddie Mulholland 

© ©Eddie Mulholland
ANPR cars enforcing green roads are idling to power CCTV cameras fitted to the vehicle in Enfield – ©Eddie Mulholland 

Grant Shapps admitted some local authorities had “got it wrong” and “had not thought through” plans before shutting roads to motorists.

The Transport Secretary said he was fully aware of the strength of feeling because of “a weekly column in a newspaper where I see them every single week on a Sunday”, in a reference to the Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Shapps said he had received “more contact on this than any other subject probably other than Beeching reversals from Members of Parliament wanting to have well-designed schemes in their area”.

Mr Shapps announced a new £250million Emergency Active Travel Fund last May intended to promote walking and cycling as the country emerged from lockdown.

Councils were invited to apply for the cash by drawing up projects intended to entice people away from their cars and take more active forms of travel.

However, critics complained that badly designed road closures and new cycle lanes in fact increased traffic and pollution on main roads, and reduced the number of people visiting high streets.

Now, in new guidance, councils have been told to speak more to local people before imposing their plans.

In the guidance, the Department for Transport said: “When implementing these changes, authorities need to consider the impact on all road users, taking into account the need to provide for increased walking and cycling. Different types of intervention will be appropriate in different areas of the country.”

The rules also warned local authorities that what might be appropriate in a market town might not suit more rural areas where people are more reliant on their cars. Local police forces, Royal Mail and local disability groups should be consulted at an early stage, the guidance said.

“Engagement should include publicity and on-street information warning of forthcoming changes to road layouts so that drivers are aware of them and can adjust their route and future journeys if necessary,” it added. 

Speaking to MPs last week Mr Shapps said: “Sometimes the schemes just were not the right schemes, or perhaps there was a failure to think them through enough and sometimes consult.”

However he stressed that the problems were only faced by a minority, saying that “most of the schemes have been welcomed. Broadly people want us to pursue these policies. Sometimes the councils just got it wrong.”

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Katherine E. Ackerman

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