Report of the Group Director of Services
The Group Director of Services submitted a report (previously circulated) requesting that consideration be given to the draft Darlington Transport Plan, Darlington Town Centre Transport Plan and Darlington Parking Strategy (also previously circulated).
The submitted report stated that the Tees Valley Strategic Transport Plan (STP) 2020-2030, which was published in 2020, sets out the strategic direction for transport in the Tees Valley; that the STP was developed to deliver three broad objectives; social opportunity, economic growth and carbon reduction and environment; and the Darlington Transport Strategy sets out how the priorities detailed in the STP would be delivered in Darlington, taking into account local priorities, and sets a delivery framework to ensure the priorities are delivered.
It was reported that the Darlington Town Centre Transport Plan would support the Town Centre Strategy 2019-2030 and the Towns Fund Investment Plan, setting out how transport can help deliver the new focus set out in the Town Centre Plan; and that the Darlington Parking Strategy sets out a framework for the provision and control of parking within the borough in order to meet the aspirations of the Darlington Transport Strategy and the Darlington Town Centre Transport Plan.
Members were informed that consultation on the documents was ongoing and due to close on 2 September 2022, and that comments were welcome from Members, residents and interested parties.
Discussion ensued on the content of the Darlington Transport Plan, Darlington Town Centre Transport Plan and Darlington Parking Strategy, with Members praising the aspirational nature of the plans, however stressed that they were keen to scrutinise the actions around the delivery of the plans.
Members entered into discussion on the need for increased support for the bus companies, citing a reduction in services, reliability and accurate information on the travel-line and web application. It was noted that many of the issues highlighted were related to a lack of driver availability and recruitment, and that there had been recent improvements in this area, and that improvements in real-time information on the web application were forthcoming.
Members were keen to see an increased amount, and a more flexible approach to delivery, in terms of cycling training, both amongst adults and younger people, with a number of suggestions advanced for Officers to consider. It was noted that the Darlington Transport Plan did not reference e-scooters, and discussion ensued on the national position in relation to e-scooters and the legislation governing the use. Discussion then progressed on to the taxing and insuring of those riding bicycles on the public highway.
Discussion ensued on the balance within the plans in terms of national requirements and local discretion, and whether the plans reflected local priorities.
Members were interested to ascertain how many off-street car parks did not meet ‘Park Mark’ standards, and what the cost of work would be to bring them to the required standard. Members were pleased to note that cycle parking was be reviewed and revised as part of the Darlington Parking Strategy, however were disappointed to note a lack of residential parking for new town centre accommodation. Members were also interested in the positioning of payments points in relation to on-street parking, particularly in the west of the town centre, and the use of residential parking permits in parking zones.
Discussion ensued on the method of consultation, and the lack of engagement with local businesses.
RESOLVED – That the content of the submitted report be noted.