To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.
(NOTE: There is a time limit of up to 30 minutes for the above item of business. In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions at the meeting are required to be submitted in writing, to email@example.com, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 17th July, 2023).
The Policy Committee received two petitions from members of the public.
The Policy Committee received a petition ‘Provide pedestrian crossing points at Fulwood Rd./Hangingwater Rd./Gladstone Rd. junction. Elizabeth Larminie attended the meeting and presented the petition to the committee.
The petitioner explained that the petition had received 755 signatures and support from local schools and businesses via letters which she had brought with her to the meeting.
The Chair thanked the petitioner for bringing the petition and advised that the Council received many requests for road safety and highway improvements including improvements to assist pedestrians crossing roads throughout the year. Limitations on resources meant that it was necessary to assess, score and prioritise locations city wide and subsequently only a small number were able to progress every year as part of the rolling Pedestrian Improvement Programme. The number of requests received for a site did not have any bearing on the prioritisation of the site.
Requests were prioritised purely on their assessment score to ensure fairness across the city. Having the set criteria enabled officers to focus attentions effectively on locations where measures are most urgently needed. The request for pedestrian crossing facilities at this location had been assessed and did score well and would hopefully be considered for future years programme as delivery of the sites for the 23/24 Pedestrian Improvement Programme were already underway.
The Policy Committee received a petition ‘Sheaf Valley Cycle Route. Julian Cole attended the meeting and presented the petition to the committee.
The petitioner explained that the petition had received 968 signatures. The increased popularity of the route was highlighted and the need to join up the cycle networks thus providing safe, cheap and environmentally friendly ways to travel. The petitioner asked that the Council complete the scheme and extend it as far as Dore and Totley Rail Station in order to reach the wider catchment area and allow people to get out of their cars.
The Chair thanked the petitioner for bringing the petition and advised that the Sheaf Valley Cycle Route was part of the Council’s Connecting Sheffield vision, running from Norton Hammer to the City Centre via Shoreham Street and Little London Rd. The enhanced cycle route empowered more people to walk or ride, more of their daily journeys more often.
As part of the Sheaf Valley Cycle route, several traffic filters and parking restrictions were introduced on a trial basis from May 2022, using an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO). This included interventions at:
- Little London Rd
- Rydal Rd /Langdale Rd
- Cherry St/Shoreham Street
- Hackthorne Rd/Scarsdale Rd
- Saxon Rd
The Transport Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee must decide to make these interventions permanent or to return the highway to its former state before the ETRO expired in November 2023. Detailed monitoring and evaluation of the scheme was underway, which included a range of both quantitative and qualitative survey work that would help to inform this decision.
The interventions above complimented other schemes that were already being implemented on a permanent basis along this route, including:
- A new toucan crossing on Bramhall Ln (between Asline Rd and Shoreham St)
- An improved segregated cycle track on Asline Rd
- An improved modal filter and parking restrictions on Glover Rd/ London Rd
- A signalised junction at Wolseley Rd and Staveley Rd
The designs of the Shoreham Street elements of the scheme were under secondary review due to a combination of price inflation, and the need to ensure that cyclists could travel safely between Matilda Street and the two-way segregated cycleway on Shoreham Street. However, Sheffield City Council remained committed to delivering the route in its entirety. Once the revised designs had been approved, the Council would advertise a Traffic Regulation Order with the intention of implementing the proposals.
Extending the Sheaf Valley Cycle route complemented Sheffield City Council’s ambition for a city-wide active travel network. This may include a branch to Dore and Totley train station and a branch out to Meadowhead. Development of these routes must be prioritised against other schemes, which included a busy programme of active travel infrastructure projects already funded. All future schemes were also subject to securing Central Government funding from Active Travel England/the Department for Transport.
The Policy Committee received sixteen questions from members of the public. Eight members of the public did not attend to ask their question, a written response would be provided.
Questions from James Stevenson
1.1.3 “The Kelham Island and Neepsend Active Travel and Public Transport Scheme has been designed to reinforce the regeneration of Kelham Island and Neepsend, helping to improve the environment and linking them into the city centre through, high quality cycling and walking infrastructure and improved routes for bus services”
Q: The proposed changes and the introduction of the bus gates / one way systems greatly increases the travel distances and routes for staff and customers reaching the established businesses within this industrial zone. This has an impact on Cars, Vans, Trucks and arctic lorries which are the vast majority of traffic in this area during the working week.
How are these changes and increased distances / journey times helping the environment, especially when placed next to the clean air zone.
Q: Why is there emphasis on improving the industrial zone towards Cyclists, Pedestrians and bus routes who are not the main visitors to this area, also do you feel that encouraging cyclists and pedestrians into an active industrial zone poses potential risks with the number of large vehicles and machinery being used and moved around the location.
1.2.4 “There is also a need to introduce parking restrictions due to parking on footways and on (or close to) junctions, which impacts on access for larger vehicles and obstructs pedestrians. Kelham Island and Neepsend are also popular for long stay parking as it is free and unrestricted. This leads to a lack of parking opportunities for customers of local businesses as well as for residents. The construction of properties at West Bar is expected to provide additional parking demand in the area too. It is therefore proposed to introduce a parking scheme in Kelham Island and Neepsend. The scheme supports the proposed moving traffic restrictions within the Kelham Island and Neepsend Active Travel and Public Transport Scheme. There is a separate TRO and Committee report for the parking scheme with the proposed parking restrictions.”
Q: What allowances will be made for staff at the established businesses in the area who do not have onsite parking and rely on the free parking in the area?
2.3 • Clean economic growth o There is a relationship between high quality active travel and public transport infrastructure, and regeneration. The proposed scheme will enhance sustainable access between Neepsend, Kelham Island and the city centre for residents and support regeneration in the city. o The scheme will also improve access to businesses in the city centre. o The scheme will encourage an increase in journeys by low carbon sustainable modes, reducing private car use, queues, and delay”
Q: Why is the access of established businesses within the Neepsend area being sacrificed in favour of public transport towards the city centre. Especially when there is a major arterial road within a 5 minute walk of the area (an element the scheme is keen to promote) which could easily cope with increased public transport.
Q: The changes within the Neepsend area will vastly increase queues and delays in both private and commercial vehicles. What information has been used to derive this will improve and reduce usage?
“Tackling inequalities of The scheme will help to improve employment prospects, through enhanced sustainable access to employment opportunities.”
Q: It has been raised by many businesses in the Neepsend area that this will ultimately lead to reduced trade and business closures, with the potential impact taking merely a couple of months to take hold. How is this enhancing employment opportunities in the area.
3.1 “Consultation Approach”
Q: Why is it not mentioned within this section the number of concerns raised that the initial consultation had a very subtle approach via reaching out to businesses through a postcard approach which would normally be instantly dismissed as junk mail and not read.
Additionally, there were a number of people unable to access or be accepted onto the zoom call.
“3.3 Impact on Businesses (32 references) 3.3.1 There were 32 references that related to the schemes impact on businesses which tended to raise issues which were financial in nature and related to a number of perceived negative impacts that the scheme could have on certain local businesses, mainly reduced ease with which potential customers can access such businesses, concerns regarding impact on current delivery arrangements, loss of passing trade for individual businesses and reduced footfall. 3.3.2 The most frequently mentioned roads where it is perceived that the scheme will have a detrimental impact on businesses are: • Neepsend Lane due to the closure to motor vehicles at the south side of the junction with Burton Road/ Rutland Road and the access to a number of businesses on this part of Neepsend Lane. • Percy Street due to the introduction of a north easterly one way along its length. • Burton Road due to the introduction of full time bus gates which remove general through traffic between Percy Street and Rutland Road, though access is retained.”
Q: Why has there been no attempt to address any of the concerns raised from the established businesses and no adjustments proposed to ease these real concerns.
“3.3.7 The scheme has been designed so that all businesses remain accessible by all motor vehicles including HGVs, but in some circumstances the route to or from the business may change. The positive side of which is that active travel is more attractive, inclusive and safer, which aims to reduce the number of vehicle trips overall.”
Q; Why is active travel seen as a realistic option within an industrial zone where vehicles are required to collect and deliver large and heavy items which could not be carried on a bicycle or by foot?
Section 3 as a whole
Q: It is apparent that all concerns raised by the established businesses have been ignored and paid mere lip service within the report which would suggest that these businesses are not within the long term plans for the area. What is the next planned phase for Neepsend once you have successfully ousted most of the long term established businesses which this scheme aims to achieve and what will be the approach to remove those that remain, e.g compulsory purchases etc…
Summary of concerns:
At the point of the initial consultation it was raised with the planning department that these plans had been pre-approved and the consultation was merely a process. Unfortunately, despite assurances this wasn’t the case, it is apparent that none of the concerns raised have had any effect on the overall scheme which is designed solely at removing existing businesses from the area, at the expense of a number of jobs. There is clearly a larger plan to develop the area into a faux-industrial residential quarter, of which the existing businesses hold no part in.
The Chair explained that the aim of the scheme was to encourage more sustainable travel for journeys for existing (and planned future housing) that could be made by more sustainable modes, especially between Kelham, Neepsend and the city centre through the provision of high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure, public realm improvements and bus priority measures. Additional loading and waiting restrictions – which still allow loading and unloading - should help reduce vehicle conflict and potential delays in the area too. The scheme had been designed so that access to all businesses and residential properties by all motor vehicles including HGVs was maintained, though in some circumstances the access route for some drivers may vary.
The scheme aimed to provide the facilities to enable the local community and visitors to choose a range of transport modes to travel to and from the area. The design of the scheme was based on providing a cycle route through Kelham and Neepsend that utilised quieter roads: the proposed bus gates and ‘no through roads’ helped achieve this lower level of traffic. Junction improvements for pedestrians and cyclists would enhance crossing opportunities too. Whilst the aim of the scheme was to encourage sustainable travel, access, parking and loading opportunities would still be maintained for all drivers.
There was no right to park for free on the public highway. However, the Kelham/Neepsend parking scheme report included a recommendation to not implement the ‘pay and display/permit’ scheme at this stage, but to work with businesses in Neepsend to see how the effects of the originally proposed scheme could be mitigated. The report included a number of initial suggestions as to how this could be achieved.
Access to all businesses and residential properties in Neepsend by all motor vehicles including HGVs would be maintained, though in some circumstances the access route for some drivers may vary. The bus priority measures aimed to improve bus journey time reliability and consistency to increase the attractiveness of the bus. Maintaining public transport routes through Neepsend was important to enable access to residential and business properties for people who didn’t have access to a vehicle, or chose not to use a vehicle.
Traffic modelling of the area had been carried out to assess the likely impact of the scheme on traffic at the key junctions in and around the area and along key internal roads. The modelling compared the modelled traffic conditions associated with the current layout with those that would result from the preferred scheme. Whilst the results highlighted the potential for some additional delays it indicated that the links and junctions would operate within capacity levels, during both the morning and evening peaks.
Sheffield City Council would monitor traffic numbers at key junctions over the first 12 months following the implementation of the scheme to determine if any further amendments were required.
The scheme aimed to improve sustainable access to employment opportunities in Kelham, Neepsend and the city centre. This aimed to widen access for potential employees to businesses by providing high quality facilities for travel to the area other than just by private vehicles.
Following the Traffic Regulation Order consultation, officers had undertaken investigations to determine if amendments to the scheme could be accommodated. As a result, amendments to the original scheme were proposed, including keeping the lower half of Percy Street two way between Neepsend Lane and Burton Road to improve access from the north to businesses on Neepsend Lane. The effect of this amendment would be monitored following the implementation of the scheme to determine if any further amendments were required.
It was also proposed to keep Wilson Street and Rowland Street in Neepsend two way to assist businesses operating between multiple sites. Officers proposed to promote further waiting restrictions in and around Paradise Street and Silver Street and reduce a section of an existing parking bay to improve access for deliveries to a business located on Paradise Street.
High quality active travel infrastructure between Neepsend, Kelham and the city centre would provide alternative facilities for sustainable access to and from the city centre for journeys that could be made by more sustainable modes. However, it was not expected that all current journeys would be made by more sustainable modes. The scheme had been designed so that access to all businesses by all motor vehicles including HGVs was maintained to deliver large and heavy items. The proposed introduction of double yellow lines (no waiting at any time) with loading permitted in Kelham and Neepsend as part of the Kelham Island and Neepsend Parking Scheme would also improve access and loading for HGVs.
The concerns raised by businesses during the Traffic Regulation Order consultation had been investigated and if feasible amendments to the Traffic Regulation Orders had been proposed such as on Percy Street, Rowland Street and Wilson Street. The aim of the scheme was to encourage sustainable travel between Neepsend, Kelham and the city centre whilst retaining full vehicle access for all existing businesses and residents, though in some circumstances the access route for some drivers may vary.
Question from Matthew Windle
I’m Matthew Windle, the owner of P&W services.
You can find our business on the one way system on Neepsend Lane.
This has been my businesses home for nearly 60 years, originally founded by my dad who is still currently hard at work /sat next to me.
Throughout this whole process from when we received the first letter about potential plans, to standing here today, we’ve felt nothing but anxious. The reason why? The plans suggest to turn the road outside my business into a dead end street, therefore cutting off passing trade.
I could stand here and talk on and on about how every one of the suggested changes to Neepsend’s roads are going impact the area negatively, but I’m sure you’ve read everyone’s comments regarding this already and hopefully, you understand the disastrous impact they will have on Neepsend, take it from someone who has spent 6 days a week here, for 36 years.
At the meeting held in Kelham Island museum months ago, my daughter Dana Windle, who organises Rex Market in Neepsend, asked why they are planning to cut off our road. They responded saying that their plans to install pedestrian crossings to the crossroads means that a 5 way cross road would need to be reduced to 4 to make it work.
I’d now like to direct your attention to the picture I have passed around.
Here you’ll see a picture from google images, of the crossroads in Broomhill on Newbould lane. Here is proof that having a 5 way crossroad with pedestrian crossings on each road WORKS! It works efficiently, it works safely, of course it does – its sandwiched in between two schools. If it can work here, it can definitely work in Neepsend.
Thankyou for your time, once again I strongly urge you to consider the impact this will have on Neepsend, adding bus gates, closing roads off, creating diversions, its going to cause confusion, and run the local businesses into the ground. We would love to see more pedestrian crossings and more public transport to the area, but you need to bear in mind Neepsend isn’t Kelham Island, it is still a working industrial area. Please, leave the roads as they are.
The Chair thanked the questioner for attending and advised that he would send a full written response to include diagrams due to the technical nature of the answer. The Chair also offered to meet at the site and discuss the matter further.
Question from Nasar Raoof
1. thank you for listening to us
2. We believe red lines needs to come off the table to give businesses certainty, can that certainty be given?
3. Business impact assessment will this be done and in a meaningful way, which is not behind a desk in the council but coming and speaking to us the businesses?
4. From a post office perspective having spoken to customers and some vulnerable users that need us are going to massively loose out and will lose confidence in coming out do their houses? Is this the direction of flow the council wishes to continue?
5. Constantly been throwing about by politicians is the issue of clean air and reducing traffic flow to protect our future generations, does the council understand and this committee how one can conclude a very hypocritical stance when areas like Burngreave, Northern General Hospital, Darnall and Tinsley child mortality rates for pollution and related symptoms is not being challenged? Does the council have these figure for todays meeting?
The Chair thanked the questioner for attending the meeting and stated that the report on the committee’s agenda recommended the implementation of bus priority works at or near specific junctions along London Road, Abbeydale Road and Ecclesall Road, including amendments to sections of bus lanes and a system of traffic signal upgrades with buses given priority at junctions. Existing bus lane hours of operation on London Road, Abbeydale Road and Ecclesall Road corridors would be enforced using camera technology.
A review of the public transport conditions on these corridors including an assessment would be undertaken following the implementation of these works to determine if further bus priority measures were required. There was no decision on red routes or changes to whole corridor bus lane hours of operation on the agenda for that meeting.
Should any further measures be recommended through the review they would be evaluated carefully to consider the economic, equalities, environmental and other implications of any proposed changes.
The project aimed to assist local residents by providing more reliable and consistent bus services and localised improvements to pedestrian crossing points where feasible, such as at the Ecclesall Road and Rustlings Road junction. The impact upon parking along both corridors from the proposed measures was limited to proposed amendments to parking restrictions near some of the proposed junction improvements. Statutory consultation would be required before any amendments to loading and waiting restrictions at or near junctions, as part of the promotion of the Traffic Regulation Order.
The Council and the Committee considered the adverse health impacts of air quality as a key driver in its need to improve the transport system and take action on pollution. The Council had taken important decisions like the implementation of the Clean Air Zone to improve air quality which, as fleet improved in response to the zone, the benefits would be delivered in cleaner air across the city not just in the zone itself.
Question from Graham Wroe
How will we meet our net zero target by 2030 unless we give buses and active travel priority over cars?
Why is Ecclesall Road among the most dangerous roads in Europe and what can be done to make it safer?
Is there any evidence, empirical or otherwise, that enforcement of parking restrictions has a negative impact on businesses?
Is there any evidence that enforcement of parking restrictions has a positive impact on businesses?
The Chair thanked the questioner for attending the meeting and explained that a decarbonisation routemap on the ‘way we travel’ was one of the main items on the committee’s agenda that day. This set out a significant number of objectives that would influence the Council’s approach and actions that had been identified for delivery over the next 2-3 years. The evidence was clear that to achieve net zero emissions, public transport and active travel needed to increase very significantly, to reduce reliance on car travel and free up road space for people who had no other option but to drive. Proposed actions would involve providing better infrastructure for active travel and public transport which the Council’s committed and future programmes of work would need to deliver. It was also necessary to ensure that progressively all remaining motor vehicles transitioned to EV or zero emission technology.
The number of road traffic collisions that had occurred on the A625 Ecclesall Road corridor meant that it was considered amongst the worst routes in the country. A total of 27 A roads had been identified by the Department for Transport for improvement because of the number of fatal and serious injury collisions occurring. Sheffield City Council were investigating a range of potential interventions to improve the safety of the route which it would undertake engagement and consultation on later in the year. Funding had been made available by the Department for Transport and Sheffield City Council had been allocated £1.425m to deliver the project.
The effective management of kerbside space was recognised as having many benefits and no matter what yellow line waiting or loading restrictions, parking places, bus lanes or other measures that were in place they were only as effective as the adherence to them. Unfortunately, it was recognised that people don’t always abide by the rules and the need to enforce restrictions was essential.
Question from James Martin
“With note to the evidence that follows and supplied to the committee in advance:
1. How does the current policy ensure that people with dementia (or other conditions listed and unlisted) are automatically and efficiently issued with a bus pass, or why has SCC gone against the guidance and why?
2. Is the difficulty and refusal to issue occurred due to an SCC decision to reduce budgets?
3. Will SCC work with SYMCA to ensure that 5-year passes covered by the evidence submitted are issued directly by Travel South Yorkshire so that SCC administration can be redeployed to other areas with a backlog such as Blue Badge Issuing?”
“Thanks to Howard for the clear breakdown:
Considering the DFT document: "Guidance to local authorities on assessing eligibility of disabled people in England for concessionary bus travel" Version 1.2
The relevant parts are:
54. Under Section 92 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 the Secretary of State may refuse to issue a driving licence on the grounds of the applicant's medical fitness. Those who are currently barred from holding a licence are people with:
a. epilepsy (unless it is of a type which does not pose a danger - see
b. severe mental disorder;
c. liability to sudden attacks of giddiness or fainting (whether as a result of cardiac disorder or otherwise);
d. inability to read a registration plate in good light at 20.5 metres (with lenses if worn);
e. other disabilities which are likely to cause the driving of vehicles by
them to be a source of danger to the public.
58. There are a number of categories of "severe mental disorder" under which people may qualify. Authorities will need to assess individuals on a case-by-case basis as eligibility may depend on the severity of the condition. Such conditions include (but are not limited to) dementia (or any organic brain syndrome); behaviour disorders (including post head injury syndrome and Non-Epileptic Seizure Disorder); and personality disorders.
56. It is not a condition of entitlement under this category that the disabled person should apply for and be refused a driving licence (which would be unduly burdensome for everyone involved). If, for people with any of the disabilities (b) - (d) listed above, the local authority can be confident that a licence would be refused it should therefore be able to issue the travel pass automatically.
Section 58 confirms Section 54b and section 56 confirms that a pass should be issued automatically (and where a condition such as dementia clearly will not improve it seems inefficient to not issue a pass for the full 5 years).
Addendum from James:
Further to this, any other guidance clarifications from the DfT do not clarify, amend or alter the above referenced clauses (benefits is not the only automatic qualification unless SCC and SYMCA are saying whole aspects of the guidance are being struck out in effect!).
Please also note, though problematic there are other areas of impairment that are issued with a five year pass having jumped through the (distressing and frustrating) hoops.”
The Chair thanked the questioners for attending the meeting and explained that the Council must adhere to guidance and understand if this has not been met. It was acknowledged that the Council must be compassionate and the Chair advised that he would welcome an opportunity to discuss this issue further with Disability Sheffield. The processing of passes was purely based on eligibility but the Chair was keen to hear from people with lived experience of the process in order to understand it better.
Questions from the Acorn Group
Oliver Feghali and Kit Dargue attended the committee meeting and read all the questions from the Acorn Group.
“Has this process been deliberately made difficult for disabled people to gatekeep the passes?” - Kit Dargue
“How much council time is spent renewing bus passes each year? How could this time be better spent?/It seems to me that the council time spent on renewing bus passes each year could be put to much better use.” - Kit Swanson
“My mother-in-law is absolutely sick of the hoops that disabled people are forced to jump through every day. Whether it’s PIP, getting disabled access in certain locations or applying for a bus pass. You could make it so much easier with so little effort. Will you?” - Aidan Cassidy
“Who is responsible for decisions relating to the disabled bus application process?” - Emily Bartholomew
“Do you think the current application process is accessible for those who need it? It seems to exclude those with long term disabilities.” - Emily Bartholomew
"What are the difficulties associated with removing barriers to accessible public transport for disabled people by means of making the application process easier and providing a 5 year bus pass for people with long term conditions" - Oliver Feghali
“Why is there a difference in the level of bus pass for different illnesses, who determines these?” - Liv Dunphy
“Do you think it is fair that people with chronic illnesses have to re-prove their disability to you every year?” - Liv Dunphy
“How do you think the disabled community of Sheffield should commute to the local community?” - Liv Dunphy
The Chair thanked the questioners for their enlightening comments and offered to meet with ACORN to discuss further. It was explained that SCC must follow Department for Transport (DfT) and South Yorkshire Mayoral Guidelines around what could be accepted as evidence for customers who were not classified an ‘automatic’ eligibility, typically through a qualifying benefit.
DfT guidance must be adhered to and applicants invited to reapply. It was difficult to quantify the actual time spent on renewals but the Council only needed process reapplication for 1 year passes based on specific criteria i.e. Unable to drive due to certain medial conditions such as Epilepsy.
SCC’s intention was to make applications as straight forward as possible, but as previously stated, government guidelines must be followed around eligibility.
SCC had delegated duty to look at eligibility but, this was based on DfT Guidelines.
Customers were able to apply under a variety of channels such as face to face, online etc. The Council would be more than happy to look at any issues that customers had experienced.
Where it was possible to, passes were issued for 5 years. It was only under specific conditions that they were issued for less time based on guidelines, for example, if a customer had applied under Epilepsy. According to the DVLA, if a customer was seizure free for a certain length of time they could apply for their license back, so would therefore not qualify.
The Chair advised that the Council was always happy to discuss with individual customers to offer support and / or advise as to other ways of accessing such as PIP etc.
Question from Chris Broome
"Since a Climate Emergency was declared in 2019, the city has clearly not managed so far to achieve the large year-on-year emissions reductions necessary to address it and play our part in avoiding climate chaos. Can I suggest it is time for Councillors to be very explicit about that being the main reason why we simply have to reduce car use in the city? Where this involves difficult decisions, of course efforts should be made to support any party adversely affected, but that should not unduly delay a shift to the healthier and more sustainable forms of transport, which will ultimately bring benefits for everyone."
The Chair thanked the questioner for attending the committee and noted that the Council’s decarbonisation routemap on the ‘way we travel’ was one of the main items on the agenda that day. This set out a significant number of objectives that would influence the Council’s approach and actions that have been identified for delivery over the next 2-3 years. The evidence was clear that to achieve net zero emissions, public transport and active travel needed to increase very significantly, to reduce reliance on car travel and free up road space for people who have no other option but to drive. Proposed actions would involve providing better infrastructure for active travel and public transport which SCC’s committed and future programmes of work would need to deliver. The Council would also need to ensure that progressively all remaining motor vehicles transition to EV or zero emission technology.
Question from Sam Wakeling read by Ruth Hubbard
If Sheffield is to reduce car traffic significantly, should we stop increasing capacity for cars? The council's Arup climate report showed a need to reduce car traffic significantly but this is hard to spot in the route map. For example, should traffic creation schemes like Broadfield Road junction be stopped? As well as undermining pedestrian access at the junction, this scheme is designed to increase the 97% of general traffic on that route which is not buses as much as improving bus times, which will mean adding noise, danger and pollution on the road immediately past the most polluted school in Sheffield.
The Chair advised that Mr Wakeling would be provided with a full written response to his question.
Question from Ruth Hubbard
My question is about the London Rd and Broadfield Rd “improvements” currently underway.
The scheme appears to go back to 2017 with predictions then that the scheme would allow for 300,000 extra car journeys.
In all the papers, reports and revisions back to 2017 I can find only one small section referencing air quality, in the original bid to the National Productivity Investment Fund. This section appears to acknowledge that air quality is poor in this area, with a belief stated that the air quality impact will be neutral. This appears to be based on the idea of a trade-off between more traffic and reductions in congestion. When the parallel Abbeydale Rd is so clogged we are not going to see a free-flowing London Rd anytime soon. We all know that most of the time enabling more traffic also enables more congestion, we're just talking dodgy science.
2017 is a long time ago and a lot has happened with the scheme since then, including revisions. Not only have I found no other references to air quality than the original bid, I have also found no reference to any discussion or actions with Lowfield Primary school which lies adjacent to this scheme for generating much more traffic. I was very surprised to learn this might be how the council does business in the context of understanding the impact of pollution, and a climate emergency declaration.
What we also now know that Lowfield Primary is the school with the worst air pollution in Sheffield. In fact, the pollution levels are so high here they are just about the same levels as Tinsley Infant and Junior school that led to its move to another site (which is, of course, what some experts have called for at Lowfield Primary). Lowfield Primary also has over 97% of its children from ethnic minority backgrounds, with over 40% eligibility for free school meals. Amongst the 385 small bodies for which air pollution is so systemically toxic there will, of course, also be a significant proportion of children who have additional physical health vulnerabilities.
So we have the most polluted school in Sheffield, and now the much delayed London Rd/Broadfield Rd scheme on site that appears to have paid quite extraordinarily scant attention over six years to anything to do with air quality in the scheme.
Maybe there are things not in the public domain or that I’ve not found….
Can the council comment please on the approach it is taking given very serious air quality issues and Lowfield Primary. What discussions have taken place with Lowfield about the exceedingly high levels of pollution and its impacts - both generally, and in respect of the now revised road scheme here? What actions are involved? What monitoring or mitigations are in place or under way, and why doesn’t there appear to be any information in the public domain? Why does there appear to be little or no attention paid to air quality for this particular scheme over six years since inception and did any alarm bells ring on the recent reporting of just how badly Lowfield primary is affected by pollution? Do you agree an early seemingly casual claim of neutrality six years ago (arguably based on dodgy science) and with no updates in relation to changes since then, provides no basis for public confidence?
The Chairthanked the questioner for her question relating to the scheme at the junction of Broadfield Road and the A61 Chesterfield Road / London Road.
The 2018 ‘National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF)’ business case was submitted to the Department for Transport based on reducing existing journey times, improving journey time reliability, and reducing congestion by all traffic modes – as well as opening up a development site to accelerate business rates growth.
The project that was on site, aimed to create a high quality bus route on Chesterfield Road while also improving the adjacent parallel, well used, direct and largely low traffic Sheaf Valley cycle route through an improved crossing of Wolseley Road to compliment the investment through the Active Travel Fund.
The Chair explained that officers would provide Ms Hubbard with a full response to the important issues raised in relation to the air quality in this area and the effects that the scheme would have on this, and in particular the air quality at Lowfield School.