Last Tuesday 29th January, after dark, I finished my day by attending the Partner Engagement Group at Centro.· These Partner Engagement Groups replace the old Transport Users Forums, and are for invited representatives of organisations.·

The idea is to keep these organisations updated with Centro’s activities on a strategic level, and give a chance for those organisations to feed into this. The meeting is also attended by staff from Centro as well as councillors who sit on the authority.· It is always a bit difficult to know the value of the meetings of such groups before you go, and whether it will turn into a bit of a talking shop, or just be an opportunity for Centro to pat themselves on the back.

The meeting started with introductions, before Jake Thrush from Centro gave a presentation of their new draft Transport Prospectus, which they are currently consulting on. The main points he highlighted were why Centro are doing another prospectus and their targets around modal shift.

After the presentation there was an opportunity for questions. I asked why the target for increasing walking wasn’t greater, considering a significant proportion of car journeys are in walking distance, and Centro’s targets for reducing car use were entirely dependent on increases in public transport use and cycling.· I made the point that they could achieve a greater decrease if they also aimed to increase walking as opposed to their target of keeping it constant.

There were also questions around 20mph, which is in the new draft prospectus too.· Centro support the idea and will help the metropolitan councils to implement it.· Not all the representatives were that convinced, but I made some points in support and tried to dispel some of the myths, including that 20mph increases pollution. It seems it will be on the agenda of a future meeting, so there’s a real chance to make the case then.

After this the meeting turned to a presentation by the Safer Travel team followed by discussions around anti-social behaviour, with familiar concerns around graffiti and loud music being aired by a number of representatives. Once this had concluded there was barely time to finish the meeting before we had to leave.

In conclusion I think is something worth going to and was refreshingly not just a talking-shop, with people sticking to the relevant points for the most part. With our new transport campaign in development, it is definitely something we will stay involved in!