Council submit £3m ‘Active Travel’ wishlist to Welsh Government including social distancing signage for town centre
Wrexham Council have put forward a wishlist of projects to Welsh Government that includes schemes to help the area work in the new socially distanced world.
The idea for public realm alterations for Wrexham was on the radar of a council scrutiny committee earlier this year before the pandemic took hold, however recently such changes have come to the forefront for the new coronavirus world.
Welsh Government launched a traffic light style scheme for several sectors of society, with the ‘shopping’ grading including changes to the public realm of towns and cities to help cope with social distancing and other pandemic needs. At the time we asked the First Minister about such changes, and his answer pointed to the ‘Active Travel’ pot of cash to enable changes to get “people to feel safe going back into our town centers.”
Wrexham Council said yesterday, “The local authority has submitted a list totalling £3 million that could be carried out across the county borough if funds are made available by the Welsh Government. Active Travel focuses on walking and cycling as a means of travelling on such as to work or school. The Welsh Government has recently written to Local Authorities requesting expressions of interest for sustainable transport measures.”
“In response Wrexham Council have responded with a list of projects it would like to take forward which will cost in the region of £3 million.”
The council have published a list of desired projects, which include pandemic specific ones:
– Introduction of shared cycleway/footpath extension at B5605, Ruabon
– Footpath improvement scheme on B5430 Talwrn Road
– Review urban dual carriageway B5605 Ruabon
– Social distance road markings at School Crossing Patrol sites
– Restoration of older established footways and cycle paths
– Public footpath upgrade to cycle path
– Review of on-street parking and pedestrian zones
– Footpath widening specifically on strategic routes
– Speed limit review on County highways (not A & B category roads).
– Introduction of 20 mph zones in urbanised areas
– Social distancing signage in town centre and at other identified attractions in outlying villages
– Cycle shelter provision at schools
– Secure cycle storage facilities at County Borough rail stations
– Bus layby in-fill and buildouts
– Wrexham Bus Station public health & passenger safety improvements
– Public transport infrastructure improved hygiene measures
The Council say currently only 10% of journeys to work, made by Wrexham residents, are undertaken by active travel modes (9% on foot and 1% by cycles) which is lower than the national average.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard and Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr David A Bithell, said: “It’s a long list and we acknowledge that not all the schemes will be given the go ahead by Welsh Government but it is an indication of just what we want to achieve and the more money we are allocated the more we will be able accomplish here in Wrexham.”
“We will continue with our plans to support sustainable means of transport and to reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment for everyone in Wrexham and will follow every funding opportunity that is available to us.
“The more money we are allocated the more we will be able to achieve.
It is unclear if there is a further pot of cash for the urgent changes to respond to the pandemic, or if this list has been submitted by Wrexham Council in time for a current tranche. On the Welsh Government website last week a range of Active Travel schemes were published as funded for the 2020-21 year, however Wrexham and Bridgend were the only two authorities with no schemes noted, with the document stating the cash had been ‘awarded’.
Schemes on that list appear similar in nature to Wrexham’s new wishlist, with bus stop enhancements in Caerphilly, 20mph limit areas in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan is joining 2020 by having electronic bus stop info signs – and Flintshire getting £2.3m for assorted schemes
Welsh Government say all 22 local authorities in Wales were invited to submit proposals to that “Local Transport Grant” with the funding to deliver projects that will ‘connect communities’ and ‘encourage active and sustainable travel’
Speaking last week at the funding announcement, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates directly linked the spending to the pandemic response: “These grants stand as a substantial investment to improve local public transport provision and support local economic growth as we work to aid the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m particularly encouraged that these schemes include improvements to encourage more people in Wales to walk and cycle, particularly as we know that active travel will be more important than ever as we work to manage the spread of this contagious disease.
“The grants will see over £20 million being invested in improving integrated public transport. This includes £3.6 million to begin construction of the new bus interchange in Merthyr Tydfil, something I’m very keen to see progress.
“In north Wales I am committing over £2.2 million to deliver a better, more efficient service for passengers by improving bus journey times and passenger facilities in Flintshire, and to that end a further £380,000 in the Conwy Council area.
“Our flagship North Wales Metro project, a key part of this government’s programme to provide a more integrated and efficient transport system for the region, will also receive a £3.5m boost.”
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