Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
(NOTE: Pursuant to Part 3e, Paragraph 19, of the City Council's Constitution, Councillor T Khan, the Chair of the Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee, (or his nominee) has been invited to attend for the consideration of this matter and to agree the need for urgency such that call-in arrangements will not apply. The reason for urgency being to enable submission to the Joint Air Quality Unit immediately following approval in order to comply with the direction issued to Local Authorities by the Secretary of State.)
The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), which set out the proposed Outline Business Case for Coventry in relation to its Air Quality Action Plan for submission to the Joint Air Quality Unit.
In July 2017, the Government published the “United Kingdom Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Concentrations” in response to growing concerns about the impact on the nations’ health. Coventry was named as one of 22 towns and cities within the UK where NO2 levels were forecast to exceed legal limits by 2020.
The Government established a Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to work with the relevant local authorities to develop Local Air Quality Action Plans (LAQAP) to achieve the legal limits for NO2 in the shortest possible time. Local authorities are required to submit business cases to access funding set aside to support the delivery of these plans.
Detailed air quality and traffic modelling identified that within Coventry the areas of greatest concern in terms of poor air quality are Holyhead Road (Ring Road to Alvis Retail Park) and Walsgrave Road (Ball Hill).
An initial Strategic Outline Case was submitted to JAQU in March 2018 outlining the range of measures under consideration. The measures in the Strategic Outline Case have been modelled in detail to identify the preferred package of measures that will be included in the LAQAP. The preferred package avoids the need for any form of charging and includes:
· Promoting the use of electric vehicles
· Real time monitoring of air quality linked to dynamic traffic management
· Initiatives to promote changes in travel behaviour and reduce car use in the city
· Highway improvements to ease congestion (focussed on Holyhead Road / Spon End and Walsgrave Road)
· Construction of new cycle routes
The LAQAP, supported by an Outline business case identifying the resources required to implement it, was due to be submitted to JAQU by the end of 2018 but, following considerable work developing the evidence base and assessing options, submission has been delayed into 2019 to ensure that the most robust case for the preferred package of measures can be made. A copy of the Outline Business Case was appended to the report submitted.
The Cabinet noted that there will be public engagement on the preferred package, feedback from which will be used to refine the Outline Business Case and finalise the package to be presented to Government in the Full Business Case submission later in 2019.
The Council was successful in bidding for early funding to improve air quality and in July 2018 the Cabinet approved the addition of grant funded projects to the Council’s capital programme. Implementation of these projects was progressing well and would be completed by the end of 2019.
In July 2018, the Cabinet also approved the submission of a bid to Government for funding from the latest round of the Ultra-Low Emissions Bus Scheme. The joint bid with National Express and Transport for the West Midlands was for the purchase of ten new electric-powered buses to operate within Coventry, and for the supporting charging infrastructure. The outcome of this bid is expected during February 2019.
The report indicated that, as part of the Early Measures Programme, work was to be undertaken at the Ball Hill Junction. A proposed redesign of the junction to reduce delay on the A4600 and improve air quality was the subject of public consultation in Autumn 2018. Following analysis of the feedback, the proposal has been amended and a package of highway improvements identified that are intended to reduce the amount of traffic passing through Ball Hill Junction.
Due to the timescales for this matter, in accordance with Paragraph 19 of the City Council’s Constitution, Councillor McNicholas, as nominee of the Chair of the Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee, attended the meeting for the consideration of this matter to agree the need for urgency such that call-in arrangements would not apply. The reason for urgency was the need to submit the Outline Business Case to the JAQU at the earliest opportunity in order to comply with the direction issued to Local Authorities by the Secretary of State.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
1. Approve the submission to Government of the Outline Business Case for the Coventry City Local Air Quality Action Plan.
2. Delegate Authority to the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), following consultation with the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport, Cabinet Member for City Services and the Director of Finance and Corporate Services to:
a. Manage the submission of the Outline Business Case for the Coventry City Local Air Quality Action Plan, as appended to this report, to Government.
b. Undertake the public engagement and consultation on the Coventry City Local Air Quality Action Plan.
c. Develop and submit to the appropriate bodies, bids for grant funding for further measures that would support the objectives of the Local Air Quality Action Plan.
3. Note the progress with the implementation of the NO2 Plan Early Measures Fund grant awarded for the A4600 Corridor (£2.021m) and approve the amendment of the programme in relation to Ball Hill Junction Improvement Scheme, as outlined in Paragraph 1.9 of the report submitted.
4. Note the submission of the Ultra-Low Emission bus Scheme capital grant bid and if successful for the sums secured to be added to the Council’s 5 year Capital Programme.
5. Delegate authority to the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), following consultation with the Director of Finance and Corporate Services to enter into funding agreements as appropriate to secure the Ultra-Low Emissions Bus Scheme capital grant.
6. Delegate authority to the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) for the conduct of procurement processes as are required to achieve the Coventry City Air Quality Action Plan and for the award of such once a compliant procurement exercise has been conducted.