Rural transport provision to be examined to help develop strategy

Backbench councillors will examine rural transport provision this year to help develop a borough-wide strategy.

Telford & Wrekin Council's headquarters
Telford & Wrekin Council's headquarters

A new work programme outlines the work Telford & Wrekin’s “scrutiny” committees could carry out in 2021-22, and includes suggestions from members, chairmen, local authority managers and others.

One suggestion, from an unidentified parish council, asks whether the countryside’s needs are being met.

A managers’ response, quoted in the programme, notes that a review is ongoing and suggests rural transport is incorporated into that.

The Scrutiny Management Board, which oversees and assigns work to the borough’s back-bench committees, will discuss the proposed schedule when it meets on Wednesday, June 23.

The proposed work programme contains 51 areas for the committees to examine in 2021-22, although 25 of these are continuations from last year.

One entry, which the report says came from a parish council, asks: “Are the needs of rural communities being met? Are the communications with them appropriate?”

The quoted management response says: “It is considered that much of this could be covered as part of the transport-related item above and that a line should be added regarding rural transport.”

The standalone item about rural communities’ needs could then be removed from the work programme, it adds.

A previous item, carried forward from 2020-21, looks at transport, and asks the scrutiny system to contribute to and influence “the emerging transport strategy and action plan”, “the emerging EV [electric vehicles] strategy” and the corporate travel plan.

Other new suggestions from parish councils include a request to examine “Telford and Wrekin’s role in securing broadband connectivity for all residents” and another that asks whether there is “enough focus on the needs of older people”.

Senior managers say scrutiny committees have previously examined superfast broadband provision, and suggest the board schedules a digital strategy review for early 2022. Older people will be considered as part of a wider “Adult Care Performance, Budget and Costs Improvement Plan”, they add.

A new item, suggested by an unidentified cabinet member, says: “Reports can be very wordy and inaccessible to most. How can this be improved?”

A management reply is not given.

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