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									                                                                Executive Group Item No 3


                                 NOTE OF MEETING

                   ROADS AND TRANSPORTATION EXECUTIVE GROUP

                                 15 September 2005

Present

Councillor                 Council                     Officer/Notes
Alison Magee               Highland                    Chair
Alison McInnes             Aberdeenshire
Duncan MacIntyre           Argyll and Bute
Donald Manford             Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Denis Male                 Dumfries and Galloway
Alan Lafferty              East Renfrewshire
Tony Martin                Fife
Charles King               Highland
Bob Wilson                 Moray
Bob Sclater                Orkney Islands
Jim Irvine                 Shetland Islands
Chris Thompson             South Lanarkshire
Gillie Thomson             Stirling
                           Aberdeenshire               Iain Gabriel (SCOTS)
                           Angus                       Lesley Millar (ATCO)
                           Argyll and Bute             David Duthie
                           Dumfries and Galloway       Alistair Speedie
                           Perth and Kinross           Jim Irons (SCOTS)

Apologies

Councillor                 Council
Andrew Burns               City of Edinburgh
Eddie Carrick              Clackmannanshire
Fiona Grant                Dundee
James Philp                Fife
Willie O’Rourke            Glasgow City
James Muirhead             Midlothian
Richard Manser             Renfrewshire
Gordon Edgar               Scottish Borders
Robert Campbell            South Ayrshire
Duncan McDonald            West Dunbartonshire
                           Aberdeen City               Richard Parker (SPDS)
                           Moray                       Sandy Ritchie (SCOTS)
                           Stirling                    David Taylor (ATCO)
1.     Network Rail

       Councillor Magee welcomed Ron McAulay, Director of Network Rail Scotland and Dave
       Boyce, Public Affairs Manager (Scotland). Ron McAulay then made a short presentation on
       Network Rail Scotland’s work and priorities in Scotland.

       Councillor Magee then invited members to question the Network Rail representatives. A
       number of councillors expressed concerns around Network Rail’s willingness to engage
       meaningfully with local authorities. Several members expressed concerns over the manner
       in which projects appeared currently to be being prioritised by Network Rail – large central
       belt projects being considered more important than smaller ones there and elsewhere.
       Further concerns were raised around the regulator’s intention to cut a percentage of
       Network Rail’s costs and the implications this would have for the company’s ability to
       undertake work in future – comparisons being drawn with Scottish Water. A number of
       questions also related to how enhancements to the rail network were identified and Local
       Government’s opportunity to influence these, and how Network Rail saw itself interacting
       with the new Regional Transport Partnerships in future.

       Ron McAulay responded that poor communication was as much Local Government’s
       problem as it was Network Scotland’s. He shared concerns and hoped that the new
       arrangements would allow a constructive relationship in future. He was unwilling however to
       commit Network Rail on how that relationship might best be developed. He indicated that
       enhancements were influenced through the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS), which was
       currently the subject of consultation. Local authorities were fully entitled to respond to this.
       In terms of a specific question on land transactions, he confirmed that these had to be
       approved by the Office of the Rail Regulator, who would consult widely before doing so –
       there was little opportunity to shorten this process.

       There followed further exchanges of views.

       Councillor Magee thanked the Network Rail Scotland representatives for attending and
       participating in a robust discussion.

       The Executive Group agreed:

       (1)    that the matter be the subject of a further detailed report to its next meeting;

       (2)    to inform this report, that a list be sought of Network Rail Scotland’s prioritised
              projects; and

       (3)    that it be remitted to the Chair, once the report was written, to consider who if anyone
              might be invited along to the next meeting to inform the debate.

2.     Trunk Road Management Contracts

       A report, summarising discussion between officers representing COSLA and Scottish
       Executive officials regarding the re-tendering exercise for the 3rd Generation of Scottish
       Trunk Road Contracts, commonly referred to as the 3G Contracts, was circulated.

       Councillor Magee welcomed John Howison, Chief Roads Engineer, Trunk Roads and Design
       and Construction Division at the Scottish Executive, to the meeting. She invited him to make
       a short presentation and then answer members’ questions.

       John Howison commented on the tendering of the 3G Contracts. At 3500 km, trunk roads
       made up 7% of the total network but carried one third of all traffic and two thirds of heavy
       traffic. He explained how the Executive believed that they had improved the contract

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       specification for maintaining these, particularly in terms of removing the barriers to working
       with councils on winter maintenance and the different regimes for grass cutting. He indicated
       that the new specification was now available on the Scottish Executive website.

       Members expressed concern at the problems caused, particularly in rural areas, when a
       contractor undertook non-emergency work that blocked off a trunk road at short notice.
       Communications between contractors and local communities continued to appear poor and
       some diversions were causing major delays for local bus services and damage to side roads
       unable to cope with the resulting traffic. John Howison accepted that liaison required to be
       improved and indicated that the Scottish Executive had begun talks with SCOTS to look at
       possible ways to improve this and link it with community planning. In terms of compensation
       for damaged side roads, he indicated that this would have to be taken up on a scheme by
       scheme basis.

       Further concerns were expressed around the need for protocols to ensure maintenance
       issues were satisfactorily removed timeously. Again communication was identified as the
       main problem. John Howison advised that, again, they were looking at how best to improve
       this.

       Members asked for clarification of how the Executive saw future involvement of the
       contractors with Regional Transport Partnerships. In response to the Executive’s position
       that they would be looking at the best means by which formal consultation might be
       arranged, members stressed that there had to be the opportunity for an ongoing relationship,
       not just through formal channels on a timetabled basis.

       Members concluded by stressing the value of good communication between all parties
       involved and Local Government’s commitment to that. John Howison accepted this and
       stressed that the Executive too was committed to improving communication.

       Councillor Magee thanked John Howison for his attendance and willingness to participate in
       a long discussion with members.

       The Executive Group:

       (1)    noted the report of a previous meeting between COSLA, SCOTS and the Scottish
              Executive on the 3G Contracts;

       (2)    agreed that a note of the discussion be provided to the Scottish Executive;

       (3)    agreed to monitor developments to ensure that communication and involvement
              improved, as advised, over the next few months; and

       (4)    agreed to review the position in due course.

3.     Transport (Scotland) Bill

       An update report by COSLA on recent developments, following enactment of the Transport
       (Scotland) Act 2005, was circulated.

       The Minister had recently issued draft Orders and asked for comments. Members discussed
       the content and potential implication of these in some detail. The Orders, revised once the
       Minister had reflected on representations to him, would be submitted to the Local
       Government and Transport Committee.

       There was further discussion around the development of the National Transport Strategy and
       its links to Regional Transport Strategies


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       The Executive Group:

       (1)    noted the update report on the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005;

       (2)    agreed that COSLA keep members advised of further developments as appropriate;
              and

       (3)    agreed a number of points to discuss with the Minister for Transport later in the
              meeting.

4.     Note of Meeting

       The Executive Group approved the note of meeting of 10 May 2005 as a correct record.

       The following matters arose:

       Scottish Air Ambulance Service

       The Executive Group noted that COSLA would seek to facilitate a meeting with the relevant
       Minister.

       CALMAC Ferries

       The Executive Group noted that this matter had largely been overtaken by events but an
       update on the Scottish Executive’s position would be sought from the Minister for Transport
       later in the meeting.

5.     Business Plan

       A report by COSLA, containing an extract from the COSLA business plan of the work of
       most direct relevance to the Executive Group, was circulated.

       Members were advised that this information had been provided in order to demonstrate that
       a number of cross-cutting issues required to be considered by the Executive Group.
       Members were also asked to note that any additional pieces of work that came in to COSLA
       that required priority, would mean that existing issues would need to fall. Members would be
       advised in future meetings as to any changes occurring in the Business Plan.

       The Executive Group noted the position.

6.     National Concessionary Travel Scheme

       A report by COSLA, providing an update on COSLA’s position on the “claw back” of
       concessionary travel GAE by the Scottish Executive following the introduction of the new
       national Concessionary Travel Scheme, was circulated.

       COSLA had written to the Minister for Transport in the following terms:

        the new national Scheme must begin on 1 April 2006, not 2 April as previously suggested
         to suit certain leading bus operators – the administrative problems of providing one day of
         GAE and confusion it would cause to the user, outweighed any argument made by the
         bus companies.

        the new national Scheme should allow Companions for specific disabled categories to
         travel throughout Scotland also.



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        a definition of disability must be agreed that applied to all Scotland – COSLA had long
         argued for this. However, current concessionary pass holders must retain existing rights
         to ensure that no-one was worse off as a result of the introduction of the national scheme.

        the existing National Blind Scheme should be integrated into the National Concessionary
         Travel Scheme with the assurance that existing concessions on rail, ferries and coaches
         remained.

        as a high percentage of GAE was used for additional elements of concessionary travel
         and public transport provision, the proportion of GAE to be given up to the Scottish
         Executive should be limited to the reimbursement to bus operators for the elderly,
         disabled, blind and companions for travelling on registered bus services as follows:

           total reimbursement to bus operators for carrying of elderly and disabled on registered
            bus services;

           total reimbursement to bus operators for carrying of companions on registered bus
            services; and

           total reimbursement to bus operators for carrying of Registered Blind and partially
            sighted under the National Scheme for the Blind on registered bus services.

        the above totalled figures would be subtracted from an original starting point of the total
         Concessionary Travel GAE and Section 70 payments (where these had been provided),
         to give the suggested residual amount to be retained for Local Government.

        all figures would be based on the actual spend for 2005/06, although to demonstrate the
         detail of COSLA’s case to the Minister, the figures collected were for 2003/04 (reconciled
         against actual spend) and 2004/05 (proposed spend or budget).

        local authorities would retain responsibility for:

           local concessionary schemes additional to the minimum – eg ferries, rail, air, taxicard,
            and accessible transport such as dial-a-ride and shopmobility;

           administering the youth concessionary scheme;

           supporting socially necessary bus services;

           assessing eligibility, albeit based on an agreed national definition, as discussed above;
            and

           enabling new users to join the scheme and replacing current users’ cards;

        Where these were currently paid for from within Concessionary Travel GAE, then this
         must continue and the funds must be available to do so.

       Obviously, once the actual claw back for each council was identified, that would leave a
       residual sum for Local Government, to be used to fund the responsibilities Local Government
       retained. This was a matter properly dealt with by the 3 Year Settlement Group, who would
       consider the matter at its next meeting. COSLA’s proposals to the Minister on claw back
       were subject to the caveat that nothing emerged during these further deliberations that would
       impact on them.

       Councillor Magee indicated that the Minister had responded positively to COSLA’s position
       but asked that officials discuss it in more detail. This meeting had been arranged for the
       following week.
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       The Executive Group:

      (1)    endorsed COSLA’s action in respect of the claw back of Concessionary Travel GAE;

      (2)    agreed that the Minister’s initial response be circulated to members; and

      (3)    noted that the residual would be the subject of consideration by the 3 Year Settlement
             Group.

7.     Minister for Transport

       Councillor Magee welcomed the new Minister for Transport, Tavish Scott MSP to the
       meeting. She congratulated him on his appointment and indicated that she hoped the
       relationship between the new Minister and COSLA would be as productive as with his
       predecessor.

       The Minister thanked COSLA for the invitation and indicated that he would be happy to
       attend future meetings when asked.

       There then followed discussion between Minister and members on:

        the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005 - particularly around lack of recent consultation, the
         timescale for an announcement on the future boundaries of Regional Transport
         Partnerships, and the possible further devolution of powers;
        Concessionary Fares for Young People
        CALMAC Ferries
        Funding – particularly in terms of delivering the new Act
        Public Service Obligations

       In summary, the Minister would not be drawn on the date of any announcement on Regional
       Transport Partnerships other than it would be soon. In terms of devolution of powers, he
       indicated that would be determined by the development of the new partnerships. He hoped
       to make an announcement soon on a Concessionary Fares Scheme for Young People but
       could not say when. He updated members on the Executive’s position on CALMAC and
       Public Service Obligations. In terms of funding, he indicated that he was not prepared at this
       time to guarantee the promises of his predecessor. Budgets were constrained across the
       Scottish Executive and a detailed look at all budgets would be undertaken prior to the next
       Spending Review. Until that happened, he was not in a postion to make long term definite
       commitments.

       While members welcomed the Minister’s openness, they expressed some concerns around
       the delay in various announcements, and stressed the need for high levels of funding to
       ensure the new Regional Transport Partnerships could truly deliver in improving transport
       planning and delivery within Scotland.

       The Executive Group thanked the Minister for Transport for his attendance and agreed that
       he be invited back to an appropriate future meeting.

8.     Date of Next Meeting

       The Executive Group noted that its next meeting would take place on Friday 2 December
       2005.




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