Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 Agenda Item No 10 (Joint Consultative Committee) Green Travel Plan Corporate Director (TM) Summary: One undoubted threat to our environment is the growing congestion and pollution from car journeys, often undertaken by individuals on their own. The Council cannot solve the global problem but it can set an example in the way it operates. This is a key action in the Council’s Environment Strategy. There are also potential health benefits which could benefit the Council through lower sickness absence. This report proposes a number of changes which could make a contribution to the reduction of these problems so far as the Council’s staff are concerned. Conclusions: It will be difficult to change habits which have grown from the relatively cheap and easy access to private car use. Notwithstanding congestion in the peak hours in Long Stratton, travelling by car in rural areas is invariably quicker than travelling by public transport, bicycle or on foot. Therefore, if the Council wants to change employee habits, it needs to incentivise “green” activity and discourage travel that is less “green”. Although this report lists a number of proposals which have been shown to work in other locations, we cannot expect a massive change in mode of travel by our own employees. Nevertheless, most of the proposals in this report are low cost, and could move the Council in the right direction. Recommendations: 1. That JCC recommends to Cabinet the adoption of some or all of the positive proposals set out in Section 3 of the main report. 2. That JCC recommends to Cabinet a target of 5% shift towards “greener travel behaviour” to be measured through a repeat of the travel survey. Cabinet member(s): Ward(s) affected: All Contact Officer, telephone Tim Mobbs 01508 533651 number, and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 1. B ackground 1.1. The number of car journeys on the roads of Norfolk has grown at a rate of 3.5% per annum over the last 5 years, with the rate on the Norwich Southern Bypass increasing by an average of 7.5% over the same period. It is widely recognised that the construction of more roads encourages even more road traffic. • British workers spend on average 46 minutes commuting each day – more than European counterparts – despite higher population densities in Britain. • Nationwide deregulation has led to a worsening bus service and in South Norfolk many communities are not served by any form of public transport. • Government sources attribute 10,000 premature deaths each year to vehicle emissions. • The car accounts for 69% of journeys to work in Norfolk, compared with 6% by public transport, 8% by walking and 7% by cycling • The car remains the only transport option for many rural communities. According to the Council’s Environment Strategy the challenge is: to ensure that a wide choice of travel options is available to reduce reliance on the car and its associated environmental impacts. 1.2. Both the County and the District Councils expect major employers to adopt “green travel plans”. Indeed these are mandatory in the case of planning applications for major employment development. So far, the Council has not adopted a green travel plan of its own so this report is a first move in that direction. 1.3. There are also potential health benefits of using the car less which could benefit employees and the Council through lower sickness absence. 1.4. Any reduction on pressure for car parking at South Norfolk House would be welcome. 2. What We Have Already Done 2.1. Around the turn of the Century the Council introduced a new business mileage rate for cycling of 7.2p per mile, subscribed to and publicised a web based lift sharing scheme and introduced an interest free loan for the purchase of cycles. The parameters of the lease car scheme were modified so that only vehicles emitting less than 175 gms per kilometre of green house gases could be leased through the Council. The Council also invested in a fleet of gas powered vans though these have not been wholly successful and have by now been replaced by diesel powered vehicles. 2.2. In 2006, the Council reviewed its car schemes, began the phased withdrawal of the lease car scheme and harmonised mileage payments to 40p per mile regardless of engine size or emission levels. At the time JCC postponed a decision on linking car mileage schemes to car emissions which would have been introduced as a marginal element initially, becoming a bigger element later on as employees could take this into account when replacing their vehicles. Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 Members were not hostile to the idea but felt it should be dealt with as part of this Green Travel Plan. JCC agreed an increase in the business mileage rate for cycling to 20p per mile. 3. Positive action we could take to reduce single occupancy car use 3.1. Walking and Cycling a) Interest Free Loans for the purchase of cycles to get to work: Although the interest free loans for purchase of cycles for use in the journey to work was introduced a few years ago, there has been virtually no take up. To encourage take up, we could increase the limit to £1,000 which would cover the purchase of a very good cycle and accessories. The cost to the Council would comprise a minor administrative task and the cost of interest foregone – at the present rate of interest this could equate to about £60 per cycle per year of loan outstanding. Take up is not likely to be very great so the cost will not be very large. b) Discount Scheme for Bicycle Purchase: Several companies are offering a discount scheme for bicycle purchase based around the idea that the employer buys a bike and cycle accessories selected by the employee, the employer loans the bike to the employee for an agreed period (normally 12- 18 months); the employee makes a “salary sacrifice” for the duration of the hire period and at the end of the hire period the employer can sell the bike and accessories to the employee for a nominal amount. Alternatively the employer can retain ownership of the bike and accessories and allow the employee to use the bike and accessories with no salary sacrifice. The employer can reclaim the VAT on the bike and accessories purchased and does not have to pay National Insurance Scheme contributions in relation to the amount of salary being sacrificed. (Certain employers can also claim a capital allowance on the bike and accessories purchased though this would not apply to a council.) The scheme must be open to all employees over 18 years old who have completed their probationary period. Assuming the cost to the Council of acquiring the bike and accessories is reimbursed by the employee through a “salary sacrifice” the only cost to the Council would be the administrative effort in supporting the scheme. Whether it would be worthwhile depends on whether similar bikes could be bought locally at less cost. c) Cycle insurance: Because of the number of cycle thefts, it is expensive for individuals to insure cycles. In South Norfolk there were 125 cycle thefts in 2005/6 and 167 in 2006/7 which is average for areas like ours. The Council could offer to insure cycles registered for journeys to work and on work business through its own insurer which would almost certainly be cheaper. The cost for the Council is likely to be very small. In addition as the journeys to work and journeys on work business are covered by the Council’s Employer Liability Insurance, employees cycling to work would have this added benefit. d) Safer Routes to Work for Walkers and Cyclists: Many potential cyclists are apprehensive of travelling to work by bike when they think of the busy A140. However, Council staff who are already established cyclists have devised a Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 number of “safer routes” to work from various settlements and could be asked to prepare a more comprehensive network including other South Norfolk Council workplaces (Ketteringham, the leisure centres, Diss Business Centre etc). The cost of the Council would be confined to the preparation of the maps, a suitable leaflet and the display of both. e) Improved Cycle Parking: The Council already has adequate cycle parking facilities at South Norfolk House, which are big enough to accommodate any likely level of demand. If there is significant take up of the scheme, we could consider safe cycle parking locker arrangements at other work centres. Cost to the Council being £400-£600 per secure bike parking locker. f) Better Changing Facilities: Under the existing arrangements, employees cycling to South Norfolk House or the Long Stratton Leisure Centre are entitled to use the showers there free. There are already showers at Ketteringham Depot and at Diss and Wymondham Leisure Centres so these could be made available for those who cycle to work there. A bigger problem is having somewhere secure to dry wet clothing following cycling to work in inclement weather. At South Norfolk House we could erect six secure wire lockers in the “Dirty Boots Room” for a cost of £400. g) The same facilities could be offered to those walking to work although realistically this is likely to be confined to those living in Long Stratton and Tharston in the case of South Norfolk House and similarly short distances away from the Council’s other facilities. h) As a further incentive for those willing to bike to work, the Council could offer chances to enter a draw for free breakfasts. This would cost a few hundred pounds a year at most. i) Pool Bicycles: Because South Norfolk House is located in such a rural area it would only make sense to provide pool bicycles for site visits in Long Stratton and Tharston or adjacent villages. However, several staff members have suggested that when making rural site visits further a field, they could plan their work to use a folding bicycle. This would reduce the number of miles driven. The cost of reliable and efficient folding bicycle is in the order of £400 and there would be a need for an additional £200 worth of ancillary items including a range of helmets etc and £100 worth of tools to enable to the caretaking staff to maintain the pool cycles. j) The Council could invite a commercial “bike doctor” to attend at South Norfolk House every half year to repair staff members’ own cycles in the same way that Autoglass attends to deal with chipped windscreens on employees’ cars. 3.2. Public Transport: Public transport is the basis of green travel plans in most urban areas. In rural areas it is more difficult and the mapping of the location of the homes of employees makes it clear that we have a wide dispersal which bears little relationship to public bus routes. The exception is the concentration of people along the No 18 transport route from Old Catton via the city centre and the Harford Park & Ride to Long Stratton, passing through further concentrations of employees at Newton Flotman and Tasburgh. There is also a cluster of staff in the Diss/Burston area who could be served by a Simonds bus service. How can we encourage employees to travel by bus when the perceived cost of tickets is relatively high and the time taken is almost invariably longer than by car? Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 a) Publicising Bus Routes and Timetables: A display of bus routes and timetables with the inclusion of the updated timetable by a link to the intranet is the very minimum we can do. This could be remotely updated by the County Council travel staff. We could also put up poster in South Norfolk House. b) Interest Free Loan for Bus/Rail Passes: Some employers, particularly in Central London, offer their employees either free bus passes or interest free loans on them. If a staff survey suggested that by doing so we could encourage regular bus commuting it would be worth considering. The cost to the Council would be confined to the loss of interest on the money loaned. c) Discounted Bus and Rail Tickets: The County Council is trying to negotiate discounted bus and rail tickets for its employees. South Norfolk Council could join in the scheme but a minimum of 300 users is necessary. If they get the requisite numbers, this saving could be passed onto staff without any cost to the Council. d) Park & Ride: Park & Ride at Harford is in a good location to collect traffic from the West, North and East of Norwich and buses to and from Long Stratton have spare capacity because they are running “against the peak”. It may be possible to arrange for the relevant off peak services to divert into the Park & Ride where South Norfolk employees could park for £1.40 a day on displaying a South Norfolk Council windscreen sticker. The details have yet to be negotiated with First Bus and the total cost to the Council would depend (a) on takeup and (b) on any decision to subsidise the Park & Ride ticket. 3.3. Car Sharing: Although car sharing is both “green” and potentially saves sharers’ money and has been promoted by the Council for many years, as far as we know, only a very small number of employees take regular advantage of this. There are almost certainly more opportunities for car sharing, arising from the clustering employees. For instance, we have 5 employees living in Burston, 20 in Diss, 7 in Tasburgh and 7 in Poringland, 6 in Bungay and 10 in Harleston. We have plotted the location of employees working at South Norfolk House on a map which clearly shows that even people living as far away as Gorleston, Martham, Aylsham and Dereham will pass the homes of other employees quite close to them on their way to work. Clearly it will not always be possible for them to car share because they may need to be at work at different times or to go home at different times but merely knowing who else lives nearby could encourage the use of car sharing. However, there are drawbacks to car sharing including the minor inconvenience of co-ordinating times of departure and the rare but nevertheless important risk of being stranded. We have come up with the following proposals. a) Database of potential car sharers. It could be a breach of the Data Protection Act, if the Council were to publish a list of the addresses of all its employees for exchange with all other employees with a view to making car sharing arrangements. However, it would be permitted to publish village level post code information (ie not particular streets) so that people could voluntarily get in touch with each other about the possibility of car sharing either on a permanent or casual basis. We would also display a post code Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 map. We should re-publicise the externally organised car share/lift share website which we already promote through leaflets in our reception. Almost no cost to the Council. b) Emergency Ride Home: Those who come to work without their cars need to be confident that they could get home if they needed to. For reasons to do with the car terms and conditions recently negotiated, the Council now operates one pool car which could be made available in the event of an emergency, and if it is already out or booked, the Council could undertake to pay for a taxi for the employee concerned. As this is not likely to be regular event, the cost of this can only be guessed at but it might be prudent to make an initial allowance of £500 for this purpose in the course of a year. c) Preferential Parking for Car Sharers: As an added inducement to encourage people to offer lifts to each other, people registered as car sharers could use a token which would enable them to park in a reserved space. There is not enough parking capacity on our own campus at the moment to reserve spaces on the off chance that somebody may car share. However, when the new car park becomes available some spaces might be reserved for car sharers much closer to the entrance to the main building. Another possible incentive for car sharing would be an additional day’s flex leave if an individual can show they he/she had shared a ride on say 50 work days a year. The former suggestion has no cost but the latter will cost a few day’s “lost working time”. 3.4. Working Patterns: Offering staff greater flexibility in their working hours can reduce the number of journeys made to work. For example, 1.6% of employees already operate a 9 day fortnight and 1.2% a 4 day working week. They save travelling time and travelling costs and the employer saves car park spaces. However, greater flexibility of this type works against car sharing because the more different working patterns there are, the less likelihood that the work patterns of two potential car sharers coincide regularly. Reducing the number of days that employees come to work also makes it more difficult to ensure that work stations are staffed. However, it might be possible to save on work journeys without disrupting public services if we could roll out the long planned IT and telephone support for home working. These are being rolled out for other purposes so though they have a cost it is not attributable to the Green Travel Plan. 3.5. Homeworking: The Council has for many years had a policy to encourage homeworking but until now the infrastructure has not supported this. Starting with the new web based email service introduced to support the latest councillors, employees can be offered email web based services at home. For planners, for whom their main operating system (MVM) is already web based, this opens up the prospect of doing some work from home. Later it may be possible to expand this if the security connections for the MVM system can permit remote entry. An upgrade of the IBS Revenues and Housing systems is now being investigated to enable some of these staff to work from home. So far the only current working from home experiment involves two planning staff who are working on the positional accuracy improvement plan who are not dependent Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 on on-line access for their computers. These are being rolled out for other purposes so though they have a cost it is not attributable to the Green Travel Plan. 3.6. Working nearer Home from Satellite Offices: Until the infrastructure supports working from home on a comprehensive basis, one way of reducing the amount miles travelled would be to allow staff to work from satellite offices which would obviate the need for employees who live some distance away, to travel all the way to Long Stratton to work. At the moment the only site with appropriate infrastructure is Ketteringham Depot where employees already access to the Council email, Flare and Integra system. There is only very limited space at Ketteringham for additional employees to work in the office but if there were significant take up of such an opportunity, the Council could contemplate opening a similar facility at Diss Business Centre. However, there are significant infrastructure costs to be overcome here in the order of £7,000 installation and £17,000 pa rental since at the moment no dedicated landline connection between Diss Business Centre and South Norfolk House exists. 3.7. Pool Cars for Work Trips: The Council has already reduced the higher mileage rates for using large, high emission vehicles for work trips by harmonising all mileage rates to 40p and phasing out the lease car scheme. As part of these negotiations, the Council introduced pool cars. As anticipated, take up has been small with an average of less than one trip per day but at least one of the users is a regular cyclist from home to office and it has enable him to make his work site visits without bringing a car to work. Another colleague who lives in Long Stratton walks to work and uses the pool car for site visits. These are behaviours which the policy would encourage. When the pattern of use of the pool car is better understood we will review the decision to rent/lease/buy, thereby reducing the cost of this scheme. 3.8. Linking the Mileage Rate to Vehicle Emissions: As mentioned in 2.1 above, JCC postponed the decision on linking the mileage rate for work trips with vehicle emissions. In essence, the proposal was to apply the 40p per mile rate to vehicles within a certain band of emission above which, in the first year, the mileage rate would be reduced by (say) a penny per mile and below which a mileage rate would be increased by (say) a penny per mile. In the following years the 40p band would apply to vehicles with lower and lower emissions and the increase for even lower emissions and the reduction for higher emissions would increase by (say) a penny per year for five years. If employees adjusted over a period of time the emission levels of the vehicles they drove, this would be cost neutral. If the emission of the owner/driver vehicle fleet stayed the same, the cost of work travel to the Council would gradually reduce. 4. Measure of Success 4.1. Changes in behaviour regarding work trips can be monitored through claims made. Good practice dictates that site visits are carried out as part of the journey work or home or grouped for cost effectiveness. Managers should monitor this. Changes in behaviour regarding journey to work are not so easily measured because there is no routine data stream to intercept and interpret. The easiest Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 and cheapest solution would be a periodic parking census to be carried out on the campus. However, this would not capture the amount of “delinquent parking” that was taking place. A periodic survey of the visitors parking, leisure centre parking and main Long Stratton shopping centre car parks might be undertaken from time to time. 5. Risk 5.1. The main risk is that the Council adopts various proposals outlined above and there is no behavioural change. This is what happened with regard to several of the measures introduced a few years ago. The way we would deal with this is by periodic re-launches and publicity campaigns or by reconsidering the actions outlined in Section 3. 6. Maintaining the Momentum 6.1. Green Travel Plans inevitably need maintenance. We recommend that if Cabinet approves most of the proposals above, the small officer group established to prepare the plan should be charged with meeting, say, three times a year to monitor its implementation. There should be annual travel survey and periodic re- launches and publicity campaigns. Information on the travel plan should be included in new employees’ induction. 6.2. If the positive measures in Section 3 do not achieve a 5% level of change (or whatever Cabinet sets) a range of measures more actively designed to curtail car use could be considered. 6.3. The first is to impose car parking charges. This would bring in revenue but there would be a cost of collection. Given that it seems likely that this year’s nationally negotiated pay rise will be significantly lower than inflation and employee expectations this is probably not a good time to introduce car parking charges, particularly if most employees can not perceive any realistic alternative means of travelling to work. If car parking charges were substantial, this could be a deterrent to staff recruitment and retention. 6.4. A second alternative would be to limit the number of times an employee could park in the car park each month. The County Council has a scheme of this kind. However, the effect has been for many employees at County Hall to park in Trowse and walk the final part of the journey to work. In Long Stratton it is likely to lead to employees occupying the bulk of the Leisure Centre Car Park and the shoppers’ car park which would distort their operation. In particular, as the Co-op rents the car park from the Council, it is likely to lead to legal action from that source. 6.5. The third option is simply to not extend the existing car parking space on the South Norfolk campus. In 2005 Cabinet approved the acquisition of addition land to the North East of the campus but then did not fund the capital works to bring the car park into existence. This year a small amount of money has become available for the building of a “temporary surface car park” accommodating up to 20 vehicles, to replace the spaces lost by accommodating the new cleansing vehicle fleet. Since the new temporary car park will not be properly paved and Joint Consultative Committee 18 September 200722 Cabinet Meeting October 2007 not so well lit as the permanent car park it is not likely to be popular, particularly in Winter. This is likely to lead to displacement parking in the Council’s own public car park, down the access road and, as with car parking charges, into the Leisure Centre and shopping car parks. This “delinquent parking” could be controlled if the Council appointed a part-time “Traffic Warden” or diverted the Council’s existing car park officer to visit Long Stratton periodically which would mean he spends less time on the Council’s revenue earning public car parks.
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