The committee met virtually by Zoom on 10 May 2021.
Key updates included;
- Membership; the campaign has welcomed one new member in the last month.
- Local elections had seen some significant changes; Iain Dobie and Shirley Williams had not been re-elected to county positions, and Nigel Moor (previously cabinet highways lead) had stood down. There is therefore no political continuity on the county Cycling Liaison Group that C&TCC attend. It was noted that there are now four green party county councillors, including Cate Cody for Tewkesbury.
- Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) had re-shared their ‘Connecting Cheltenham‘ report which included a section on cycling. The report was generally welcomed, and the committee discussed how the campaign can support CBC given it does not have highways responsibility. Ideas included how a clearer local cycling coalition including NHS/Universities/Schools etc could form beyond just the campaign, as well as areas where the borough council can act without needing Gloucestershire County Council, such as improvements to the Honeybourne Line, addressing physical barriers to cycling within its recreational spaces, and wider secure cycle parking. The chair will draft a response to the council, which we’ll share on the website soon. (*update* Now published here).
- The committee reviewed progress on addressing the challenges at Cheltenham Spa railway station created by the new forecourt scheme. Based on an FOI, the committee now understands around £500,000 of DfT cycle-rail funding has been spent to date, and beyond the secure cycle racking, the committee could see no additional benefits. Of ongoing concern were the ‘cyclists dismount’ signs preventing access to the Honeybourne Line, the removal of platform level accessible cycling stands, and the general level of pedestrian and cycling conflict on the forecourt. Committee members are now awaiting a meeting with Dan Okey, representative from GWR, and hope that the local MP, Alex Chalk, will also be able to join having now been briefed on the issues, with an aim to 1) get a continuous link through the car park reinstated, 2) achieve safer segregation along the future route to the A40 and 3) restore ‘sheffield stand’ type parking for accessible and cargo bikes.
- B4063 Gloucester to Cheltenham Cycle Route; no additional information has been received, but the committee understands that the scheme is undergoing significant design review to address many challenges, including those highlighted in our response, and that received wider coverage. The committee continued to be concerned about the massive opportunity cost of this £10 million scheme proceeding ahead of the many local walking and cycling improvements across the county (an issue that received coverage in Jan 2021).
- West Cheltenham Transport Improvement Scheme (WCTIS); despite press releases announcing early construction starting on the walking and cycling improvements, no plans are yet available for the elements west of Benhall Roundabout. Gloucestershire County Council are being contacted regularly by the committee and members for updates. GCHQ and Telstar Way construction continues.
- Clean Air Day is on 17 June. Members are exploring possibility of a led ride or social meet up on this day, pending insurance being available.
- Campaign administration; the new website is now ready to launch and should be live by the June meeting. Ongoing conversations about how the campaign can invite more people to get involved through social media, events and awareness raising.
The next committee meeting will be 14 June 2021.