As Active Streets Trial is ditched, Greens challenge Labour and Conservatives on how they will ensure safe streets

Following a vote by councillors in the Exeter HATOC committee to end the Active Streets Trial in Heavitree ahead of the original plan for it to run until February 2025, Green councillors in the ward have challenged both the Labour-led Exeter City Council and the Conservative-led Devon County Council to explain what they plan to do now to ensure safer streets in the ward and in other parts of Exeter.

Green councillor Lynn Wetenhall, a member of HATOC, was only one of two councillors to vote against ending the trial. She said:

“Evidence shows that it takes at least 18 months for such schemes to bed down and for the full outcomes to be assessed. Based on the original criteria by which this scheme was to be assessed, including helping enable more people within Exeter to walk and wheel safely, it was already proving a success. 

“The reasons put forward for ending the trial were based solely around an alleged issue with impacts on certain groups of people. But the report did not provide any explanation of the impacts of stopping the trial on the many children and young people who currently walk or wheel in the area. 

“The report to councillors recommending ditching the trial was full of holes. It lacked sufficient, data-based information; didn’t report clearly against the trial’s aims and failed to put the trial in the context of wider Devon County Council commitments such as tackling the climate emergency or achieving 50% of journeys in Exeter by walking or wheeling by 2030. Indeed, numerous researchers and scientists who specialise in data analysis wrote to councillors to say that the data presented to them was unreliable and biased.

“The consultation process has been used as a referendum. This should never have happened, especially since there were serious doubts cast on the reliability of the consultation results. 

“Councillors were presented with a polarised yes or no option, which leaves a community divided and Heavitree back to square one, facing again dangers to vulnerable groups, especially children, rat-running and congestion in residential streets.

“We challenge both councils to now come forward with a plan, quickly, on how they will address these very real health and safety concerns that residents face in Heavitree.” 

Speaking at today’s HATOC meeting, Heavitree Green councillor Catherine Rees said:

“Scrapping the trial does not eliminate the problems that the trial originally set out to solve, and it does not recognise the positive shifts and improvements that have already taken place. 

“Speaking to residents over the last couple of years, there is much agreement on key issues that affect us all: most people agree that we need to change the way we do things to address the climate emergency; there is broad agreement that our generation must make changes that will benefit generations to come. There is also broad agreement that the challenges we face are complex and there are no simple solutions. Whatever people think about this trial, there is even much agreement that over time we need fewer cars on our streets. How we actually achieve this, is the challenge that we face together.”

Carol Bennett, also a Green councillor in Heavitree, added:

“Since becoming an Exeter city councillor in 2022, I have called for better engagement with residents regarding the Active Streets Trial. The report presented to HATOC fell short by not including mitigating measures to improve the scheme, such as allowing carers or blue badge holders through the bus gates. 

“I strongly believe that every voice counts. But the report doesn’t fully represent what is and isn’t working in the trial because some important voices have still not been heard. For example, the voices of children who walk or wheel to local schools. 

“The Active Streets Trial was set up to help address serious health and safety issues in the area. Doing nothing was never an option. It cannot be an option now.”


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