Agenda and minutes

Thriving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 5th April, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Hybrid - Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron / remotely via video conferrence

Contact: Lisa Evans 

No. Item




No apologies were received.


Disclosures of personal interest (including whipping declarations) Members are reminded of their personal responsibility to declare any personal and prejudicial interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000, the Council’s Constitution and the Members Code of Conduct. In addition, Members must declare any prohibited party whip which the Member has been given in relation to the meeting as per the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.


i.      Councillor Chris James declared a personal interest under item 4.

ii.     Lisa Evans, Standards and Scrutiny Officer declared a personal and prejudicial interest in relation to item 4, in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees and withdrew from the meeting whilst the matter was being discussed.


Active travel update April 2023 and use of former railway lines for cycling / walking pdf icon PDF 165 KB


Councillor Keith Henson (Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management) explained that the purpose of the report was to give an update on the developments since the previous report/ discussion. A meeting had been held with Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change on the 1st of December 2022 to provide an overview of Active Travel in Ceredigion. At present, there were only three Welsh Government-designated Active Travel Settlements in Ceredigion under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 (namely Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Lampeter) and therefore, there was an aspiration to expand on this. Thanks were extended to the service for progressing with the work to improve the accessibility of Active Travel and safety for the county.


Phil Jones, Corporate Manager: Highways Services explained that The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 places a duty on local authorities to plan for, improve, and promote routes for walking and cycling for everyday journeys. The authority was grateful to WG for the funding to improve the Active Travel network but having an improved plan for the next 3-5 years would be beneficial for all. An overview of the background as included in the report was provided. Given the aspirations to improve the railway links from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth, assurance was given by Elin Jones MS and Ben Lake MP in a recent meeting that these proposals would not be developed for a significant number of years, therefore essentially, it was possible to proceed with expanding Active Travel on those lines.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Officers, Professor Stuart Cole CBE and Councillor Keith Henson. The main points raised were as follows:

·       Professor Stuart Cole CBE clarified that although WG had not confirmed whether they planned to develop the railway from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth which would cost approximately £800million, there was insufficient funding and not enough population to run the railway, hence why the T1 TrawsCymru was in place. In his opinion, it was very unlikely the railway would be developed in the next 30-40 years.

·       Raising concerns with WG/ UK Government around the lack of or uncertainty with funding streams was important. In addition, further relaxation of the restrictions would benefit the whole county, not only the 3 towns named as Active Travel Settlements and it would also enable local authorities to plan resources better and deliver locally.

·       Support was given to the utilisation of Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers, which may be required to acquire land for walking and cycling routes. Although it was considered a complex and lengthy process, the use of CPO in conjunction with discussions was considered important for delivering plans in the county. Work was done in the background to progress this including with Rhiw Goch Hill, Aberaeron. 

·       It was noted that not all routes would attract Active Travel Fund (ATF) and so other funding streams were being explored. Feedback following an unsuccessful grant application for Cylch y Cardi Trail Phase 1 Levelling Up Fund 2  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Ceredigion Bus Network pdf icon PDF 199 KB


Councillor Keith Henson explained that WG managed a large proportion of the transport system in Wales and at present, the transport industry faced a challenging time. An overview of the contents of the report was provided including the local and wider context.


Gerwyn Jones, Corporate Manager: Environmental Services stated that the report was presented to Cabinet on 14 February 2023. A presentation was provided to the Committee outlining the following:

  • Background
  • Ceredigion’s Current Network / Pre Covid-Network
  • Strengths / Weaknesses
  • Opportunities / Threats
  • Short/ Mid/ Long Term
  • Ceredigion’s Future Network?
  • Considerations
  • TrawsCymru/ BwcaBus Branding
  • Transport Information
  • ULEV Transition


Professor Stuart Cole CBE noted that the situation was similar in many places, and although the solution was different for each local authority, it was similar for rural areas such as Ceredigion and neighbouring authorities. It was reported that Covid-19 had a significant impact on the number of people travelling on public transport, including the TrawsCymru. Following the introduction of BwcaBus in 2008, research had been undertaken on public transport in rural areas, and as a result, TrawsCymru was introduced in 2012, with BwcaBus and local buses feeding into the network. 2.6million passengers had travelled on TrawsCymru in 2019, which was a significant increase from numbers prior to 2012, however, passengers had not yet returned to pre-covid numbers, including the T1 route (Carmarthen- Aberystwyth) which had only returned to 60%. The reliability, frequency and precept of services were deemed key to attracting more passengers, along with accessibility, such as information signs and timetables.


It was reported that although Lee Waters MS, Deputy minister for Climate Change was eager for more people to travel on public transport, there were very clear differences in the availability of services in urban and rural areas. The subsidy for transporting Concessionary Travel Card holders was very small compared to the price of a ticket, but hopefully, WG would not end this arrangement.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Officers, Professor Stuart Cole CBE and Councillor Keith Henson. The main points raised were as follows:

  • A procurement process would commence shortly for the routes Ceredigion County Council held responsibility for, with the aim of new contracts being in place by September 2023. Officers warned that the situation would possibly worsen again before any improvements were seen and that there was a challenging time ahead.
  • It was noted that the Megabus service which had run from Aberystwyth to London prior to Covid-19 was run by Stagecoach, a commercial company and so there was no requirement on the company to restore the service post Covid-19. Commercial companies ran services based on whether routes made a profit but if there was a demand for the service, it may be worth discussing with the company.
  • Concerns were raised with the changes to the 585 service (Aberystwyth- Tregaron- Lampeter) given that the two buses removed from the timetable were suitable for the elderly who depended on the service. Officers explained that although the service was not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


To confirm the Minutes of the previous Meeting and to consider any matters arising from those Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB


It was agreed to confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 21 March 2023.


Matters arising: None.


To consider the Overview and Scrutiny Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:


It was agreed to note the contents of the Forward Work Programme presented subject to the following:

  • Report on tourism in Ceredigion
  • Due to no response from National Resources Wales regarding their availability for 22 June 2023, it was suggested that the Officer contact them again.