A report seeking endorsement of an Enhanced Partnership with all bus operators in Warwickshire.
Portfolio Holder – Councillor Wallace Redford
Councillor Wallace Redford (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) summarised this report which explained that the County Council had been working in partnership with bus operators to produce the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which reflected the vision for bus travel in Warwickshire. The Enhanced Partnership Plan was a summary version of the BSIP which provided the context for improvement to bus services and the supporting infrastructure in the county and an Enhanced Partnership Scheme had also been produced which set out how the Plan objectives would be achieved. The Plan and Scheme had been subject to a successful consultation which had further shaped the content. In January 2022, the Department for Transport (DfT) had announced changes to the Enhanced Partnership timetable as detailed in the report and further information on the grant funding available for the project was awaited. The recommendations set out in the report would enable the County Council to enter an Enhanced Partnership with bus operators by the end of April 2022 presenting benefits to bus passengers across the county and providing a gateway towards receiving investment from the DfT aimed at improving the Warwickshire bus network.
Councillor Peter Butlin welcomed the report, particularly noting that the recommendations were key to ensuring eligibility for DfT funding linked to the National Bus Strategy. The report also proposed the submission of a final rather than draft plan by April 2022 and Councillor Butlin was supportive of the clear approach set out in the report.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse welcomed the work of the cross-party working group that was assisting with the development of the Enhanced Partnership, and lamented the delay to government funding.
Councillor Heather Timms welcomed the report, particularly around demand responsive transport in rural areas to tackle isolation and how that fed into the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and the health and wellbeing agenda as access to transport was identified as a barrier to accessing services. Councillor Timms also sought continued support for organisations such as VASA, who provided a volunteer service to take passengers to medical appointments or social inclusion activities, and considered that there remained a place for them within the transport scheme.
Councillor Kam Kaur thanked the team for their work, particularly Nigel Whyte, for his enthusiasm, engagement and passion for the strategy.
Councillor Wallace Redford also applauded the contribution of VASA, particularly in the south of the county and welcomed the expansion of the service into the north.
1. Authorises the Strategic Director for Communities to make the Enhanced Partnership Plan and Scheme by the end of April 2022.
2. Authorises the Strategic Director for Communities to carry out the appropriate procedures to make the minor modifications to the Scheme mentioned in paragraph 4.2 of the report.
3. Authorises the Strategic Director for Communities, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning, to make the further modifications to the Plan and Scheme mentioned in paragraph 4.5 of the report having consulted with the Department for Transport (DfT) and undertaken the necessary statutory consultations.
4. Authorises the Strategic Director for Communities, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning, to submit the drafts of an Enhanced Partnership Scheme 2 and an Enhanced Partnership Scheme 3 to the DfT later in 2022-23 if he considers it appropriate in light of decisions on the award of external funding and negotiations with operators.