Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 19th September 2016

Notes of the first meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond); Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth) & Nick Cott (West Gosforth)

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; T&W Public Transport User Group; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; North Jesmond Councillors; Gosforth Traffic; Save our Town Moor; Jesmond dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association.

Apologies: Newcastle Youth Parliament

 Agenda Items

(NB. Subsequent discussions about internal and external group communications effect this action).

The report underpins the council’s decision to withdraw the first stage consultation designs for Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road junctions and their decision to proceed with the Haddricks Mill proposal by workshopping the challenged features of the design and working towards detailed design.  The proposals for Haddricks Mill will be the subject of further consultation.

This working group (a sub group of the Transport Forum) will be contributing to the design process of a new solution for Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road junctions, the final decision about the next design that the council will consult on, is the council’s though.

JD noted that this is an unusual process and may well have implications for the way the council approaches large infra structure schemes in the future.

Questions were asked about the funding sources for the junction improvements and the criteria for success in accessing them. The funding comes largely from the Local growth Fund, with some addition monies from our Local Transport Plan. In order to be awarded the funds, the scheme must demonstrate through a business case that it fits in with the policies of the region, that the scheme is deliverable and represents value for money. The Assurance Framework that details all of this is to be made available to the Working Group – AL will circulate (NB. Subsequent discussions about internal and external group communications effect this action).

A design to improve the junction had been taken through a consultation process in 2008 but had not made it through the Integrated Transport Authority’s selection process, to the funding challenge – the minutes of that meeting are available on line for those who are interested. The task and focus for us now are definitely looking forward.

Group members were invited to share their group’s perspectives – there were some shared themes:

Many group members were also concerned about the lack of representation of the Freemen on the Working Group – GG agreed to extend an invitation to the Freemen to the next Working Group meeting.

A whistle stop summary of the history of transport policy in the city showed how the approach that had developed dealt with the symptoms of problems rather than the root causes – e.g. approaching congestion by building more capacity on the roads rather than how to reduce the demand.

Explaining that the debates we are going to have in the Working Group are fundamentally about what sort of city do we want to live in and how are we going to achieve it. This Working Group approach has the potential to be a blueprint for the way the council approaches engagement on major schemes in the future – we need to find a way to ‘believe in better’

There were a number of discussion point flowing from the introduction:

There were a number of comments about the TOR’s which John will look at before finalising the draft:

– The working group is a sub group of the city’s Transport Forum but the TOR’s don’t reference and explain this relationship.

– Some of the key considerations seem too stringent for a group of volunteers.

Other discussion points:

Prof Patrick Olivier gave an outline of the kind of help and support that Newcastle University’s Digital Civics Team could offer to the working group.

Ideas included:

The offer from the DC Team will be refined and developed in the coming weeks and established properly for the next meeting. NB. The policy documents and resources previously discussed are probably best shared using the platform developed by the DC Team rather than emails so some timescales for sharing information may slip.

John summarised the topics covered in the meeting and thanked everyone for their time.

Monday 3rd October, 6pm in the Civic Centre