A TRANSPORT strategy set out for the next decade - which aims to reduce reliance on vehicles and subsequently improve safety and air quality - lacks ambition and should go further, it has been claimed.
Barnsley Council’s scheme aims to address the ’negative impacts of travel’ and has been the subject of a public consultation which ended earlier this month.
Residents were invited to roadshows in the town centre, Goldthorpe, Elsecar, Darton, Ardsley, Cudworth and Penistone to have their say on plans to increase active travel - cycling and walking - and to reduce vehicle usage, collisions and deaths.
However, although it’s been well-received from opposition Liberal Democrat councillors, other measures must be implemented to support the proposals if it’s to be a success.
Coun Steve Hunt, who represents Darton East, said: “The broad objectives contained within the strategy are to be applauded - we support them in principle.
“We too want to see an increase in active travel, a reduction in reliance on cars, lowered emissions and far fewer accidents - all while supporting growth and regeneration of the borough.
“However these plans lack real practical measures to make them happen - they are merely aspirations.
“To encourage more participation in walking and cycling people need to feel safe, so consideration must be given to increasing the lighting on active travel routes away from roads to encourage greater participation, particularly in the winter months.
“The council has set a target to increase electric vehicle charging points by 50, year-on-year, but has no plans to increase on-street provision for residents who do not benefit from off-street parking.”
Calls for the council’s successful ‘School Streets’ scheme to return - which occurred last year and saw roads being closed outside education settings’ gates - have also been made.
Figures revealed 70 per cent of pupils walked, scooted or cycled to school during the project and high volumes of traffic at drop-off and pick-up times were removed.
“It is well-known that a lot of short journeys by car are connected to the school run,” Coun Hunt added.
“The council should demonstrate through this strategy how it will build on last year’s School Streets initiative to further encourage more active travel at school times.
“There is also no plan to encourage parents to switch off their engines whilst waiting for children in cars outside schools, despite young children being particularly vulnerable to particles contained in exhaust fumes.
“Many of these ideas are suggestions are ones we have put forward previously but have been voted down by the council - despite them clearly fitting with this important agenda.
“We dearly hope that these suggestions will be well-received and integrated into the strategy.”
The strategy is set to be discussed by ruling cabinet members before its approval - and any potential amendments - are agreed at full council.
Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “Our borough is a place that fosters and grows ambition, enabling everyone to be the best they can be.
“We have a central location, excellent links to major road networks and we’re/ investing in some major schemes so more businesses and jobs come to Barnsley and stay in Barnsley.
“Good transport connections and services are key to people getting to and from work, spending time with friends and family and enjoying all the education, cultural facilities and green spaces the borough has to offer.
“The strategy outlines the key transport issues and solutions, with a range of ready-to-go projects which will ensure we are ready to grasp funding opportunities as they arise.”