WALES ACTIVE TRAVEL
OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADER OF DENBIGHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
To Cllr Hugh Evans., Leader Denbighshire County Council
Dear Cllr Evans
You will be aware that our Facebook Group was established in 2020. We have a Working Group of 6 people and 2000 supporters on our Facebook group. We also have a detailed written purpose and objectives, but in short, we aim to support the development of safe and attractive active travel routes within the County.
We have had meetings with Ben Wilcox and corresponded with a number of Elected Members over a range of matters, however, we feel we need to get a response from the Council on some fundamental issues related to Active Travel.
We have some information that the Welsh Government has asked the Council to respond to them with regard to their Active Travel plans by 25th January. However, Ben has also informed us that ‘The statutory part of our ATNM consultation process is scheduled to commence in April 2021’. We are not sure if this is two consultations or the January deadline has been put back. Whichever it is we would hope to be involved. We obviously don’t think we should be the only avenue of consultation, but we certainly think we are an important one.
We are also aware of a lot of public debate about the current Active Travel temporary arrangements that have been put in place within Ruthin, Rhyl and other towns within the County. On the Facebook pages for those towns a lot of the feedback has been negative. We feel this is for 2 reasons. Firstly, it is unfortunately often the nature of these online groups that they attract those who want to complain. It is sadly human nature that it is only when people feel angry about an issue that they will be motivated enough to speak out. Secondly, because of this this negative focus, it drives away people who are supportive of the initiatives.
Having said all this, it is our view that the communications from the Council could have been better, not framing and focusing the conversation on Covid and social distancing (although we realise this is what the money was for). We feel it should be part of a larger debate about the future of our towns, and how we can make them attractive, vibrant and accessible places; as the nature of how people shop continues to change.
The other thing we want to mention is that Active Travel is something that can impact on many parts of people’s lives, particularly their health. On that basis we feel there should be some joined-up thinking with BCUHB and other partners. On this basis there could also be some sharing of resources in order to fund Active Travel initiatives. We should stress at this point that we fully appreciate the demands on budgets for the Council and realise that any significant developments on Active Travel would need to include external funding.
This brings us full circle to our initial comments about the consultation process. As a group we need to know three specific things from the Council:
a) Is the Council committed to the principle of Active Travel and the benefits it can bring the citizens of Denbighshire?
b) If the answer to the above question is yes, what short, medium and long terms plans are in place to bring this about?
c) What strategies has the Council got to consult on an ongoing basis with people about Active Travel, now and into the future, and what are the deadlines for these?
Can we lastly say that we intend to make this letter and any response to it public via our Facebook page and other media avenues. We also intend to gather support for our cause from other organisations aligned with our mission.
We want to work cooperatively and in a positive way with the Council and would value a response as soon as possible and certainly before the 25th deadline for the Welsh Government consultation, if indeed this is still in place.
Denbighshire Cycling & Walking Support Group.