Mr G P Price (Chairman), Mr J R Adams, Mr A C Bartlett, Mrs B D Clough, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr J Effemey, Mrs M J Miller, Mr A J Mundy,† Mr R C Richards, Mr R A Sutton
Portfolio Holders :
Mrs T M Butchers, Mr E Fox
††††††††††††††††††††††† Mr V J Morey
THAT the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2003 be confirmed.
50. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Mr A J Mundy declared a personal interest in any matter relating to environmental issues.
51. URGENT BUSINESS Ė YOUTH TRANSPORT
The Vice Chairman, Mr M Cunningham, reported on two meetings that he had recently attended of the Youth Transport Working Party established by the Youth Trust arising from its Transport Study.† Initial discussions centred on the Youth Mover Plus Card Scheme.
THAT the report be noted.
52. USE OF MECHANICALLY PROPELLED VEHICLES ON RIGHTS OF WAY
The Head of Select Committee and Best Value Support advised members that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had issued a consultation document relating to the use of mechanically propelled vehicles on rights of way.† The Council was reported to have more footpaths per square kilometre than any other English County.† The main proposals contained within the consultation document related to byways which comprised 47 Km of the overall network of 827 Km.
The Councilís Countryside Access Manager explained the background to the proposals and that DEFRA intended any changes not to be effective until 2025. This was due to the need for many Highway Authorities having to undertake extensive historic research on user rights on rights of way which. This was not the case on the Island.† He outlined how the Islandís Definitive Map of Rights of Way had been established utilising records maintained by the Highways Commissioners in 1898.
Although there were some isolated problems with mechanically propelled vehicles causing damage to byways, and some illegal use of those on footpaths and bridleways it was not seen as a major problem.† The Select Committee was advised that the Council could use existing powers to make traffic regulation orders restricting or prohibiting vehicles on byways.† It had been necessary the previous year to temporary close parts of the Tennyson Trail due to damage being caused by vehicles following particularly wet weather.
The Countryside Access Manager indicated that the Council did not have any restricted byways, therefore certain proposals within the Consultation document were not relevant.
Mr John Brownscombe, the AONB Officer broadly welcomed the proposals contained in the Consultation document.† A Tennyson Trail Task Group had been formed in August 2002.† There were concerns over damage caused to the Tennyson Trail and also to adjoining land.† A voluntary code of use had been drawn up by user groups for their members.† It was† also intended to involve the Crime and Disorder Partnership in discussions to assist in overcoming problems associated with misuse of rights of way by vehicles, including motorbikes.† It was necessary to adopt a partnership approach to issues involved.† Any restrictions placed on the use of rights of way would require enforcement.
Mr Brownscombe believed that an opportunity was being missed in DEFRAís proposals by not adopting a more flexible approach to Traffic Regulation Orders on Byways and made particular reference to signage.† There was also a view that a significant area was not addressed by the proposals related to trespass on private land by vehicles accessing this off rights of way.
The Select Committee noted that although byways only formed 4% of the rights of way network 80% of these were in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.† There was also implications for ancient monuments and landscapes which were being damaged through misuse by vehicles.
Members considered that the proposed implementation date of 2006 should be brought forward.† Clarification was also needed on the rights of statutory undertakers to use vehicles on rights of way when accessing plant and equipment and the duty to repair any damage arising from such action.
The conflict with other users had to be taken into account.† It was possible to erect barriers preventing vehicular access on footpaths.† This could not however be done on bridleways.
The Select Committee considered that a further paper should be submitted taking into account the views of all interested parties.† This would then enable a response to be made to DEFRA by the closing date of 19 March 2004.
THAT officers prepare a written response to the proposals contained in the Consultation Paper for consideration, incorporating :
∑ Views of stakeholders.
∑ A more flexible approach to the co-ordination and enforcement of illegal or misuse of rights of way.
∑ A partnership approach enabling emergency closures to protect the natural environment.
∑ Issue of trespass on private land.
53. BUDGET CONSULTATION
(During the debate on this item Mrs M J Miller declared an interest in the proposed Ryde Interchange Scheme as Chairman of the Development Control Committee)
The Chief Financial Officer reported on the 2004/05 revised budget and 2005/06 forecast. †He advised members that although the Council had received an improved Formula Spending Share for 2004/05 this fell short of providing the level of financing required for a standstill.† Taking into account additional funding being made available on a one off basis, and changes to discounts in Council Tax on second homes and empty properties, it was anticipated that a rise of 5.9% in Council Tax would be required to provide for a standstill budget.
The Select Committee debated the revenue bids that were being put forward for consideration by the Executive together with those which were being deferred.† The effect of insufficient funding for maintenance of the highway network was a major concern.† The Head of Engineering Services indicated that in approximately 10 years time every road would have no remaining life left.† Already the Council, through its insurers, had paid out about £1.5m in claims arising from defective highways.† The funding of the extended concessionary bus fare scheme was also an area where insufficient funding had been allocated.
Members referred to the proposals of the Council to proceed with decriminalised parking enforcement and the lack of progress on this due to funding problems.† The original business case had suggested a surplus after the third year of operation.† Consideration was given to similar areas whereby there could be a financial benefit accruing to the Council after initial pump priming.
It was believed by members that this could also include better control of work carried out by statutory undertakers, and the introduction of a Pavement Management System and maintenance staff leading to a reduction in insurance claims.† The ability of the Council to deliver the highways capital programme, in accordance with the Local Transport Plan, with the existing number of staff was raised.† Shortfalls could be covered by way of consultants.† There were also accommodation problems as there was not sufficient space within Jubilee Stores to locate any additional staff.
The Select Committee discussed the need to initialise the spend to save budget held centrally on areas where it could be proved that the Council would benefit on the longer term after the initial financial outlay.
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO THE EXECUTIVE :
THAT there is a clear business case to fully fund Section 74 issues, Pavement Management System, decriminalised parking and the bid for Highway Maintenance Staff as capacity will be increased to deliver services and reduce the cost of any PFI bid.
54. MEMBERSí QUESTION TIME
Mr Bartlett asked a question in relation to the Council re-establishing its own highway maintenance workforce.† The Head of Engineering Services indicated that the existing contractual arrangements were due for renewal later in 2004 and this option should be explored.