Council scrutinises its commitment to sustainable transport plans

Plans and policies to change travel behaviour in the borough were constructively challenged at a meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 11 September.

'Modal shift', the  move away from use of private cars to other more environmentally-friendly forms of transport such as public transport, cycling and walking was the main subject for the meeting. 

The evening began with a presentation from the Council's Major Projects Portfolio Manager who outlined the many interventions and projects already completed in Guildford and those underway or proposed, aimed at providing real alternatives to the private car as the main mode of travel. These include delivery of a Sustainable Movement Corridor, new rail stations to the east and west of the town, improved cycle and pedestrian routes,  a Community Bike Share scheme, and the recently expanded car club. This was then followed by Dr Steve Melia from the University of the West of England (UWE) who discussed how other towns and cities are achieving Modal Shift and what Guildford could learn from these examples. 

Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Spooner said: "As a council we are committed to encouraging a shift to more sustainable modes of transport, but also to improving our key decision-making process through the Overview and Scrutiny Committee process. Last night's meeting and Dr Melia's interesting views on this topic serve as a robust example of how we continue to welcome challenge to judgments and recommendations from both our specialist officers and our elected councillors."

Lead Councillor for Infrastructure and Governance, Cllr Matt Furniss explained: "As part of wider consideration on sustainable travel in the borough, the Council is looking into what can be done to change travel behaviour to more economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable approaches. Last night's meeting was dedicated to the importance of encouraging a 'Modal Shift' for Guildford from the private motor car to more sustainable travel modes such as rail, bus, walking, or cycling (or perhaps not even making a journey at all). We investigated efforts to encourage sustainable transport in the borough and scrutinised the measures and actions either already underway or proposed to achieve Modal Shift. We are gathering evidence to identify what additional initiatives Guildford should be exploring."

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee does not make decisions, but does inspect decisions made by the Executive Committee or the Lead Councillors. The Committee can undertake reviews and in-depth investigations in order to provide advice and recommendations.

Published on Thursday 13 September.