Dave started by outlining the purpose and character of the consultation process. With many different users and user groups, some will inevitably be disappointed by the final outcome, but it is still important to gather in as many views as possible.
The first thing that is done in dealing with replies to a consultation is to add up the
in favour and
not in favour responses. This is normally done strictly on the basis of replies – a group such as CCC counts as having one
vote. (But CCC members can of course also respond as residents, if in the consultation area.) Sometimes replies can be weighted by locality, so as to give those in the vicinity of a scheme more say in the outcome. With special cycling schemes, the view of CCC would obviously be given greater consideration.
Next, any comments included in the replies are considered and collated.
The officers responsible then produce a report on the scheme, the results of the consultation and any feedback from ward councillors, with any consultation comments attached as an appendix (or at least a
flavour of them).
The report then goes to the Executive Environment Sub-Group, comprised of councillors (currently Cllr John Thane and three others), which decides whether and in what form the scheme should go ahead. (The Councillors can ask for the proposal to be reconsidered.) If approved, the scheme is then
signed-off by the Assistant Director.
In cases where the proposal is quite minor (i.e. does not involve changing a Traffic Order), the report need not be decided on by the Executive Sub-Group, but can be dealt with by the Assistant Director.
The Council should ultimately inform all those who responded to the consultation with the outcome of the consultation and the decision taken. It could of course not address each comment which had been made separately.
The Council does have a
Consultation Scrutiny Board, but this serves to review the system of consultations, not examine particular cases.
As officer with particular responsibility for cycling issues, Dave would like to be copied in on CCC responses to consultations where we have particular concerns.
Dave pointed out that in addition to responding to consultations, CCC also has the ability to direct comments on both particular schemes and general trends to Council officers (including himself) through the regular meetings which are held between the two.
There is also the Walking, Cycling and Road Safety Advisory Group, chaired by a councillor, which although it has no decision-making powers is a good forum for discussion – officers attend, and the minutes go to Cllr John Thane.
Dave was asked whether it would be better for officers other than those responsible for devising the scheme to carry out the review of responses to the consultation. He thought not, as the main task was just number-crunching. If there were issues of substance, these should in any case have been forwarded to him by CCC as the officer responsible for cycling.
Any examples of schemes which didn’t go ahead following consultation? Dave couldn’t recall any [but we remember Priory Road, August 2004.
It was felt that the officer’s reports varied in quality.
Also that consultations varied in the degree to which the options were broken down, which sometimes made it difficult to discriminate against particular features.
Nick Harding drew attention to a new type of consultation which didn’t appear to invite responses. Dave confirmed that these are what is termed
Revised Consultation, usually used in relation to Local Safety Schemes, where funding has already been allocated to deal with specific
accident issues and the Council has already decided to proceed. The purpose of
Revised Consultation is to notify residents and others of what is planned and enable them to respond if they so wish.
Dave added that there were some matters on which the Council now did not consult, in particular the installation of cycle stands (following a decision of the
Consultation Scrutiny Board).
Stefano pointed out that we often think that proposals don’t go far enough. His instinct in these instances is to reject the scheme in the response – but is this the best way to proceed? Dave felt that a
yes, however response would be preferable, making it clear in the comments the areas where it was thought the scheme was deficient. It was sometimes possible to take on board such additional suggestions as the scheme was being implemented.
Dave was asked whether views could be taken on board in the design stage, prior to consultation? He replied that this certainly was the case with the LCN+ routes, as these are specific cycling schemes. In particular these were subject to the Cycle Route Implementation and Stateholder Plan(CRISP) process which involves local LCC branches in the early phases of the design.
Dave also handled a number of questions about particular road management issues, in particular:
- the way in which pavement build-outs and the like lead to motor traffic pushing up tarmac against the side of the road in warm weather; Dave said he wasn’t aware of this; it was something that should be dealt with by Road Maintenance and could be reported via the Council website;
- is it Council policy to reduce the number of one-way streets? He didn’t think so;
- Judd Street – various concerns were raised, particularly regarding the effect on cycle route 6 of moving the left turn from Judd Street to Mabledon place, as well as light phasings and pedestrian crossings; Dave advised us in our response to stress the potential decline in safety to the cycle route
and promised to talk to David Jenkins (Camden offucer responsible)about the safty issues regarding the cycle route.