The Monitoring Officer to report on any Questions, Representations and Statements of Case received in accordance with Council procedures.
a) Questions on behalf of Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire's Transport Action Group
Bhavik Chandrahas asked the following questions:
“Question on workplace parking levy related matters.
As you know the Workplace Parking Levy needs to be clearly linked to an improvement in Leicester’s public transport. It is also being criticised as potentially impacting most heavily on the least well paid in Leicester. Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire would like to see the money raised by the WPL ring fenced and used to offer concessionary bus travel for people on low incomes. This would make it clear that the council is strongly on the side of its low income citizens who currently can’t afford to use the buses at the same time as genuinely supporting bus use in Leicester which is desperately needed to tackle the climate emergency. In this context, can we please ask the following questions:
· How much does Leicester City Council currently spend on subsidising buses? How many bus services does it subsidise? What is the average cost of subsidising one bus service?
· What analysis has the council been doing in terms of who the workplace parking levy will impact on and how much money it could raise? Specifically:
a. Roughly how many car parking spaces would the Workplace Parking Levy charge for if it operated only within the inner ring road and if it operated up to the outer ring road?
b. Do you have a list of employers who would qualify to pay the Workplace Parking Levy?
c. Have you asked where their low waged workers (including contractors and subcontractors) live and travel from thus enabling you to know where bus services need extra support or services?”
The City Mayor thanked Mr Chandrahas for his questions and stated that he looked forward to talking with the groups Mr Chandrahas was representing as the Council’s climate emergency conversation and thinking on the Workplace Levy progressed. The City Mayor explained that proposals of how these issues would be approached were being developed, but the current situation was as follows:
· In 2018/19 city Council expenditure across subsidised bus services was £443,359 (plus £100,000 supported by a central government grant) and expenditure on subsiding Park and Ride was £270,973, which was shared 50/50 with Leicestershire County Council. In the same period the Council also spent approximately £9 million on concessionary fares, which although not directed at specific services made a significant contribution to local bus services;
· The Council supported seven service bus routes and three park and ride routes, these being services 16, 22a, 40, 81, 83, 103 Park and Ride, 203 Park and Ride, 303 Park and Ride, 154, 162. These services covered various areas across the city and were operated commercially, with additional funding support from the City Council;
· Different levels of subsidy were provided for different types of subsidised services, so it would be misleading to provide an average across all services. However, applying a very rough average gave a City Council subsidy of £58,000 per service. Any further questions on this were welcome;
· The Council was at a very early stage in developing a workplace parking levy and had carried out some initial inquiries through social media. It was expected that further consultation would be conducted with business and other organisations through 2020;
· Preparatory material that would inform the scheme and the emerging business case proposals would be gathered and would be subject to a formal consultation exercise, which currently was programmed for 2021;
· Consideration also would be given to how the proceeds from a workplace parking levy could be best used. Some was likely to be ring-fenced for public transport, and subsidising services in the future also would form part of this. Another possibility would be to use the money to ensure better coverage of the city by public transport;
· With regard to point ‘c’ above, it was recognised that low waged groups wanted to be able to access public transport. The Council would be considering such issues, but this was still at an early stage; and
· Some information was available on where employers and employees lived and travelled from, but this was limited.
Councillor Clarke, Deputy City Mayor with responsibility for Environment and Transportation, also noted that consideration would be given to the type of fuel that transport would be using. Where possible, the Council would be promoting carbon-free options.
Further to question ‘c’ above, Councillor Clarke explained that it was known where employment areas were in the city and where it was expected that employment would grow in coming years.
At the invitation of the Chair, Zina Zelter, (End of the Road Campaign), asked whether the Council would be actively asking employers to identify where employees lived, so that appropriate services could be developed.
In reply, the Director of Planning, Development and Transportation explained that part of the business case preparation would include engaging as much as possible with employers. It was recognised that there was a large range of types of employer and they had different travel patterns. The level of detail suggested by the question was not available at present, but the Council wanted to hear ideas on how a workplace parking levy scheme could be designed that responded to the issues highlighted.
Councillor Clarke noted that Climate Action Leicester had already made submissions, so there would be an ongoing dialogue with this group and further correspondence was welcome.
The Director of Planning, Development and Transportation confirmed that further engagement with a range of interested groups would be needed in early 2020. Engagement also would be held in 2020 on a new Local Transport Plan, which would consider potential funding from the workplace parking levy. Formal consultation on proposals for the workplace levy was likely to be undertaken in 2021, ready for the introduction of the levy in 2023 or 2024.
In view of the above comments, it was suggested that a discussion on the emerging Local Transport Plan could be held at a meeting of this Commission in spring or early summer 2020, to which Mr Chandrahas could be invited.
b) Question on behalf of the End of the Road Campaign
Zina Zelter asked the following question:
“The Evesham Rd link’s inclusion in the emerging options of the local plan.
Thankyou for so clearly supporting the idea of the Evesham link road being taken out of the Local Plan at your last meeting. There was some confusion over whether it is in the Local Plan, so we are seeking clarification.
The potential for the road is in the Emerging Options document which is one of the supporting documents for the Local Plan. We were asking (in confusing language as it turns out) that you recommend to the City Executive that the potential for the Evesham link road (represented we think by a red line and paragraph 8.19) be taken out of the Emerging Options document so that the road becomes less likely to happen in the future. We got the impression that you would have done this if our wording had been clearer.
Please would you either strongly recommend to the City Executive that the Evesham link road be removed from the Emerging Options document, or confirm that in fact you did already agree to this at the meeting on the 16th Oct and it has happened. Thankyou.”
The City Mayor explained that the previous Emerging Issues document had no formal status moving forward and the Local Plan had not been produced as a final document yet. For anything to be included in the Plan, it had to have a realistic chance of being delivered in the Plan period, (in this case by 2036). There currently was no funding or proposals for an Evesham Road link, so it could not be in the Plan.
In view of the concerns raised, it was suggested that the Director of Planning, Development and Transportation could be asked to write to the questioner and clarify the situation.