The results of Watford’s biggest ever public consultation on transforming travel in the town to support a more sustainable future shows the vast majority of the 1,000 people who provided feedback were supportive of the need for change to the way people travel.
Earlier in this year, Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council asked for feedback on their 20-year ‘Transforming Travel in Watford’ strategy, which sets out how, working together, they plan to make it easier and greener for people to get around Watford.
The strategy is underpinned by six key themes including: increasing active travel opportunities, improving public transport for longer journeys, providing alternatives to petrol car, making the town centre more pedestrian and cycle friendly, supporting change and making moving goods more sustainable.
Residents were consulted on these greener travel proposals and themes, which will play an important part in making the town net zero carbon by 2030, and 84 per cent agreed with the statement that ‘Watford needs to make changes to its transport network to help tackle climate change’.
Results from the survey also showed 60 per cent agreeing with the idea of allocating more road space to more environmentally friendly ways to travel, and 61 per cent agreeing that Watford would be more pleasant and easier to live in with fewer cars.
The top initiatives people thought would make them change to travelling more sustainably were: improving public transport and making the town a more welcoming place for people who walk and cycle.
Respondents rated specific proposed changes recommended within the strategy, with nearly all the proposed actions achieving at least 50 per cent agreement, and 20 out 27 actions (nearly three quarter) having 60 per cent agreement.
The majority agreed with measures that would make travelling easier for them such as: improving car parks, connecting train stations and managing deliveries.
It was also important for many that new developments contribute to greener travel and to continue to champion electric vehicles, with both being supported by over 70 per cent of the respondents.
Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford said: “Not only are congested roads annoying for people waiting in queues, the pollution from vehicles has a big impact on our health. Improving how we get around Watford will be really important to the health and success of our town in the future.
“Over the last 18 months, it has been great to see some improvements. In particular, our Beryl bike share scheme has been incredibly popular seeing over 170,000 journeys since the launch last March. Our new strategy builds on the work we have been doing since declaring a climate emergency in 2019 and the top priority is to reduce the congestion around Watford and make our air cleaner.”
Councillor Ian Stotesbury, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Sustainability said: “As a sector, transport produces more greenhouse gases than any other in the UK and with this year’s climate change report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declaring we are at ‘code red for humanity’, both councils are taking a stand against climate change by developing six key themes to help fulfil the strategy.”
Feedback from the survey is still being complied into a full report and will be reviewed by both councils, with the final strategy being considered by Watford Borough Council’s Cabinet for approval in spring 2022, with the view of starting to fulfil the 20-year strategy soon after.
You can view the summary consultation report at www.futuretravelwatford.com.