The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013

Nov 15, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business, Assembly Issues | 0 comments

Plenary Wednesday 15/11/2017

15:02
Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Spoken Contribution – 15:02:23
Watch this contribution on Senedd TV

Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the health impact of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013? OAQ51277

Vaughan Gething AM

Vaughan Gething AM

Title: Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Party: Welsh Labour

The landmark active travel Act is an important step towards helping to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality and, indeed, the nation’s health. Early implementation of the Act is progressing but the change in travel behaviour needed to achieve the long-term health impact we seek will take time to realise.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Thanks for the answer. Given the high levels of obesity in Wales, I think that active travel is a very important tool in getting better public health outcomes. Now, I believe that departmental responsibility for implementing active travel has now shifted from the health department to the economy department. I wonder what are your reflections on the reasons for that, and how do you think this change will impact on the public health outcomes?

Vaughan Gething AM

Vaughan Gething AM

Title: Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Party: Welsh Labour

It’s not my job to reflect on the reasons for a change in responsibilities; that’s a matter for the First Minister, of course, as it should be. The challenge for all of us as Ministers is actually how we continue to work effectively across the Government. ‘Prosperity for All’ is a proper attempt at trying to get the Government to work more effectively across the different departments to make sure we’re part of one Government, not simply representing a silo within Government—but also to work with partners, because delivering active travel isn’t about what the Government does on its own. There’s a role for local authorities and a role for other actors, Sustrans being one, about actually how we educate the public to undertake different options for travel.

There are many people in this room who are atypical workers in so many ways—we don’t have a normal job—but for people who do get into their cars to undertake short journeys, and people who do put their children in cars for short journeys to do the school run, there’s a challenge there about changing societal behaviour and expectation. So, active travel and the Act itself are part of the equipment we have to try and deliver that change in culture and behaviour, but it does require a range of people to be part of that conversation in trying to change people’s attitude and their behaviour. Ultimately, we should then see a benefit to the health of the nation.