The Chair stated that the Management Board had expressed views about the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and that Members wanted to be involved in a review before proposals had been finalised. Draft proposals had been brought to this extraordinary meeting, which would enable comment. The proposals would be brought back to the Management Board at the scheduled meeting on the 24th February for noting; and would then be brought to Cabinet on the 25th February for approval and on to central Government on the 26th February. Therefore, effective comment on the proposals would be from this extraordinary meeting.
The Clean Air Zone technical team, consultants, and members of the consultation team were all introduced.
The Management Board were advised that the team were in continuous contact with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to respond to queries and to refine data that was in the draft reports.
The Head of Strategic City Transport, Clean Air Zone Programme Manager and Lead Consultation Officer provided presentations to the Board on about the Draft Technical Note submitted to JAQU, Draft Traffic Volumes and Air Quality, and the Consultation Update respectively.
Councillor Negus joined the meeting at approximately 4:50pm.
· The Management Board was advised that it was too early to confirm a clear recommendation; that the information had been shared with JAQU, and a process would now take place which would involve refinement of the data, which would result in some changes. Also, that the information being shared was still currently draft.
· The Head of Strategic City Transport confirmed that both options (Small CAZ D / Medium CAZ C with Small CAZ D) would achieve compliance in the same year; therefore, both were options which could be considered. Evidence, including the technical results and the consultation, would be referred to after JAQU had provided feedback on the work to date.
· The Management Board received assurance that the specified timescale to submit a Full Business Case was achievable; live conversations with JAQU were ongoing and, although it was recognised the timescale was extremely challenging, that there was planned capacity to meet the deadlines (which included a published report by 18th February).
· It was confirmed that the final costs, which would be met by JAQU, would be available in the full business case.
· Members were advised that the street space measures did not change the make-up of the fleet (that they would not target vehicle type). There had been a lot of progress, although the traffic flow along Maudlin Street and Marlborough Street areas prevented compliance.
· The Programme Manager advised Members that the cost of installing a charging zone was to be confirmed; and that cost benefit was high, that that analysis took into account the many health benefits that would be achieved by reducing pollution levels. Also, implementing the scheme would affect behaviour change, which would benefit the areas outside the zone due to associated impact of cleaner vehicles.
· Members were advised that, although not entirely balanced, the numbers of consultation responses from households across the levels of deprivation in the city were high enough to enable a good understanding of views across the city. Officers also pointed to the correlation of the opinions of people in lower income areas with those of the 9% of responses that did not disclose postcodes, which meant it was probable the response from lower income areas was higher.
· Members were told that it was recognised that not all households had internet access, reflected in the way information was provided; this included an extra 20,000 paper copies posted out to areas with high deprivation (of which there was 514 responses), posters in shops, utilisation of community networks, and phone calls. There was ongoing work to provide targeted support for people when the zone would be implemented, which included a bid to Government to fund extra engagement.
· The analysis from the consultation was commended; although it was noted the public may have had further concerns.
· It was confirmed that there had been a reduction in traffic flow, although it was too early to tell how much Covid-19 and lockdown had affected traffic in the longer term or how people’s behaviours might change as lockdown was eased. It was noted that there is still great uncertainty about the future.
· Members raised concern about the impact of displaced traffic as a result of the zone. It was noted that modelling had shown areas outside the zone were compliant and would not get significantly worse due to diversionary traffic. This was partly due to the fact the fleet as a whole would be cleaned up as a result of the zone.
· The Management Board were told that there would be funding available for mitigation measures; and that income from a zone would be ring fenced to improve air quality around the city. Also, there would be discussions around how the rollout of Liveable Neighbourhoods could help mitigate the impact of diversionary traffic movements. It was not yet known how much income would be expected, this would be monitored.
· Members were advised that there were approximately 90 diffusion tubes to be installed which would monitor displacement and the aim was to mitigate any impacts of displaced traffic although this would not be achieved straight away – further data and funding would be required. There would be ongoing work to investigate what further measures could be taken to encourage sustainable travel (this included using Liveable Neighbourhoods approach and utilising future funding mechanisms).
· There was a discussion about exemptions. It was noted that some of the exemptions were prescribed by JAQU (as part of national guidance). Other exemption needs had been identified through local engagement work, and this detail was the subject of ongoing discussion with JAQU. This included what technology was needed to enable appropriate exemptions. Members raised concern about how exemptions would be used for people who attended hospital, and asked Officers to carefully consider criteria.
· The Management Board was advised that the Clean Air Zone with the changes made to the city centre should make running bus services easier and should reduce congestion in the area; a larger issue was the effects Covid had on bus use – Officers were monitoring and working with WECA on this point.
· There was a discussion about impact on surrounding wards, and officers were asked to further consider this, including displaced parking. It was confirmed that there were no plans for parking restrictions linked to the Clean Air Zone specifically; although extra focus, including potential funding for the roll out of Liveable Neighbourhoods would allow focus on more neighbourhood issues (including displaced parking). A Liveable Neighbourhoods policy would be produced to look at prioritisation and the Clean Air Zone would influence priorities.
· Members were advised that Bristol should be well placed in terms of promoting sustainable transport modes; First Bus were happy with the changes that had been made in the centre of town, and there had been improved customer satisfaction. Also, the Clean Air Zone would encourage more use of public transport. This would help mitigate the risks to public transport Covid had brought. There were plans for further improvements to bus services and the Council would work closely with WECA and First Bus on that, which included a significant improvement to bus priority across the city.
· It was noted that First Bus had already committed that buses would be compliant for the implementation of the zone.
· It was decided that it was reasonable to enable access to a car park; Members were advised that due to location it was feasible to enable access to Cabot Circus car park only.
· There was a discussion about park and ride schemes and the need to bring them forward; Members were advised that park and ride was a key part of longer strategic planning, and the Council needed to work with partner authorities and Highways England to bring forward schemes, and that all park and ride schemes were dependent on ongoing work to improve bus priority.
· Members were told that the governments Vehicle Checker Tool was being continuously upgraded by JAQU, and that this would go live, with access to the full vehicle checker, when a scheme was authorised. Further information would be available on the Council website at this point, and the engagement team would support people to understand vehicle compliance. The Chair requested that Officers would feedback to JAQU that it would be beneficial if the Vehicle Checker would be available before final approval had been made, which would provide more time for people to be informed and consider vehicle change.
· The Board was advised that one of the challenges through this process was that JAQU was primarily interested in interventions that directly supported compliance; so unless other funding streams were identified there were limitations regarding what extra initiatives could be taken forward.
· Members were assured that once a scheme was authorised, the programme could be delivered, subject to no further delays outside of their control and that a lot of established infrastructure could be utilised.
· It was confirmed that the FBC documents that would be submitted to Government would have been reviewed by the Clean Air Zone Board.
· The Chair commended the presentation and on behalf of the Management Board thanked Officers for the clarity and detail.