Future Open Meetings

edited August 2009 in General
The next Open meeting will be on 7th October at TfL's Palestra building. Full details will follow, but in the morning there will be presentations showing how Keymed have helped authorities introduce some innovative safety improvements. In the afternoon we will hear about a new govenment sponsored national framework agreement which will allow us all to procure intelligent transport equipment and solutions more efficiently and at lower cost.

At its meeting in June the Committee decided that this will be the last of this type of Open meeting. In future we will have two Open Meetings, in March and September each year, but they will be in the style of workshops, building on the success of the Communications Workshop we held in Doncaster. They will include more participation by attendees, we are aiming at something which will be useful as CPD, particularly for younger staff. We will also be getting out and about - although on March 3rd next year we will again be guests of TfL, on September 8th we will be visiting Cardiff. The Committee meetings will also change, from three to four a year, in line with the CSS Transport Committee.

The theme for the March workshop will be "Designing for Pedestrians". The provisional programme will be a short introduction by the Chair, including an update on significant Committee matters, followed by a presentation about the recent Traffic Advisory Leaflet. We will then have breakout sessions looking at solving problems in prepared case studies, with a report back before lunch. After lunch we will have presentations on a couple of innovative solutions followed by discussion. We haven't decided what we want to cover in September, so suggestions are welcome.

By reducing the number of Open Meetings there will be less time to report back on our liaison meetings with the HA and DfT, and fewer opportunities for members to raise concerns. To counteract this we want to make more use of this discussion forum; and we will try to get some improvements in the way that it works in response to the concerns some of you have raised.


  • Hi Peter, do you know when will more information be posted regarding the workshops, agenda etc? I would be interested in attending but in these cash strapped times need to make a business case to my Manager to get release time.


  • Adrian Gray has just sent out the following email announcing the cancellation of the Open Meeting scheduled for the 2nd March 2011:

    Dear all,

    You may recall that I sent out an email in the Autumn cancelling the planned Open Meeting due to the uncertainties around local government funding and the likelihood that as a result approval to attend meetings could be difficult. Those uncertainties remain today, with many of us in the throws of restructuring, including the HA and the DfT, and as a result I have decided to cancel the Open Meeting scheduled for 2nd March.

    Your committee has been considering how best the Traffic Systems Group can represent your interests in the future and has redrafted the terms of reference. I will shortly publish these on the IHE TSG Discussion Board (, and I would welcome your feedback on this. Essentially we are looking to maintain our central liaison role with DfT and HA, and develop stronger links with Industry along the lines of the former EITAC, and also promote more regional meetings to maximise our outreach. We will continue to have an Open Meeting, but this is likely to be once a year.

    Regional groups already exist in the South West and East that I am aware of and may be established elsewhere too. The Committee would like to support these and cascade information from DfT, HA and ADEPT, plus our Industry partners, as well as receiving comments and issues from the regional groups for sharing with other groups. If you would like more information on these meetings, please contact Sean Treen at Bedfordshire Highways (sean dot treen at amey dot co dot uk) for East and Alan Shailes at Cornwall Council (ashailes at cornwall dot gov dot uk) for South West. Both Sean and Alan are happy to explain how their meetings operate. The national committee would like to note the contact details for new groups so we can cascade consultation documents and act as a hub for circulating information.

    These are proposals for now which hopefully will allow TSG to continue to provide a useful service. Although I have cancelled the Open Meeting scheduled for 2nd March, I could arrange a meeting in London if there are people who would like to get together to discuss the proposals. Alternatively I would be grateful for your comments on this and any suggestions you may have for maximising the effectiveness of the group.

    On a different topic, the DfT consultation on TSRGD will close at the end of March, so please pass on any suggestions you may have. DfT have established a number of working groups to look at various different aspects of TSRGD and our comments are principally sought on signals-related aspects, although they'd happily receive all feedback I'm sure. I would be happy to receive your comments, or alternatively you can contact Sally Dutton at DfT on sally dot dutton at dft dot gsi dot gov dot uk

    Adrian Gray
  • Please find attached the draft revised terms of reference for TSG. I'd welcome feedback on this.


    Adrian Gray
  • I think some sort of national forum is still needed and wouyld be happy to attend. With no training budget we need to learn from each other.

    Several other points
    a) I had no idea an open meeting was planned for 2nd March. As UTMC manager in Leeds I'd like to be kept informed. How do I make sure I get any such notifications ... if there are future meetings. One reason for poor attendance in the past could be people not knowing.
    b) I'd be up for an annual meeting in London, but lasting all day and covering more topics than previous ones. We are a varied group and a variety of topics would draw more people. I really appreciate seeing people and getting to know a few names that I can ring up for advice
    c) This discussion forum suffers from 2 weakness. First you have to actively look at it to see what is being dicussed. I only do this very intermittently: it's a shame it isn't an automatic email. Secondly, why are peple so anonymous? It adds meaning to a comment, and helps me if I want to contact somebody to know if Matt is from a local authority and which one.

    Gordon robertson, Leeds CC
  • edited March 2011
    Thanks for the feedback Gordon. The only reason you didn't know about the 2nd March meeting is that it never got further than a "pencilled-in" date. We had hoped that people would be clearer about the financial position of their authority after Christmas, so we could go ahead and organise something in the spring. Unfortunately things appear just as murky (e.g. we still don't know what the LTP allocation to Sheffield for 2011/12 will be from the ITA, and we have just cancelled all journal subscriptions).

    We maintain an email list of contacts in each authority, as well as this site, to which we send all meeting information, but it is not easy to keep it up to date.

    We agree about the problems with the forum, and I've been tasked with looking at alternatives - something that would give us some independence from others' contractual or institutional constraints. How would people feel about something that was supported by (discreet) advertising or sponsorship? There is actually a facility within your account settings to make your email address visible to others - you can find it for people by using the Search tab for a specific user. Also you should be able to set up the site to notify you of new posts through RSS (the modern version of automatic email I am told) - but it seems to be very flaky. I will bear your comments in mind in my search for a better solution.

    Pete Bull - Sheffield CC
  • Sadly - I haven't been able to attend (or had any of my staff attend) an Open TSG meeting in London for several years. It now seems even less likely that we could send staff to one in the future without some strong justification - given the current financial climate.

    I agree that the demise (or diminishing presence) of the TSG, if this were to happen, due to very infrequent TSG meetings, would be very unfortunate. I feel that the close contacts that myself and others have had in the industry - through TSG, JCT sysmposium, etc. - have been helpful and beneficial to myself and all those who have participated.

    Unfortunately, I feel that this TSG on-line forum has not been a great sucess - and I, for one, still prefer the old Freelist - or feel at least that any on-line forum such as this really needs two direct features:-

    - Division into topics / categories - so that you can just look at what you want to see
    - A selectable e-mail option (either for every posting - or e-mailed out daily, weekly or monthly)

    Various on-line forums, even as basic as Yahoo groups, provide these sorts of facilities at no cost - with login/password and Calendar facilities as well.

    One of the great advantages of the earlier Freelist was it's high 'penetration' to users very quickly - so that you could (when you really needed it most) get some quick and really helpful responses to possibly difficult issues. Because (like most users) I only check out this TSG forum very occasionally (when I get around to thinking about it), the number of users of the forum seems to be very small, response times are slow, and the sense that it is a worthwhile place to post a query has now considerably diminished. This then creates a circle of diminishing usage which needs to be addressed. An alternative forum location/type could be a possible solution.

    I agree with Gordon that anonymous contributions from users (in this environment) are less than helpful.

    In relation to meetings, I agree that local meetings might be helpful - but the focus needs to be clear. In Yorkshire there had (some time ago) been regular user meetings, but I believe that these were very maintenance orientated, and didn't interest many local users.

    Is the possibility of some form of nationally available on-line meeting at a set time that users could log on to and participate in a possibility? This is probably beyond Skype - but other options exist - such as Paltalk, Tokbox, Yahoo Messenger, etc. that are suitable for a large number of voice/text-chat participants. However I suspect that finding an acceptable quality cheap or free option may take some investigation. :-) (especially as some of tehse facilities are likely to be locked out by IT organisations at Councils as being insecure)


    Howard Saffer
    Sheffield City Council
  • Rather than walk through to the next office and chat to Howard about this I thought it would be better to have the debate in the open through the Forum.

    I agree about the problems caused by current financial restrictions, and the TSG committee is looking at things we could do to keep it relevant - one of them being revisions to the Forum along the lines Howard suggests, which I am tasked to look into. There is a mechanism which is supposed to keep you updated with new messages, but it only seems to work sporadically, and our maintenance of the system is difficult as it is done by a commercial company for IHIE, so we are two steps removed.

    I think there are a number of approaches we could take:

    Carry on with the Forum as it is and try to get new features implemented.

    Make use of another third party's website to host a replacement - could be public sector or industry. ADEPT have a website, but it is provided by one of the LA members and I found in the past that its administration is very slow and bureaucratic.

    Make use of a commercial service such as Google or Yahoo, meaning we would have to live with in line advertising, and you would be providing them with your user data, but they offer a lot of ready built facilities.

    Get hold of some webspace and set up our own system - which would not be that difficult but would require regular expenditure of up to about £100 a year, perhaps that could come from commercial sponsorship?

    Comments welcome
  • My Authority (Leicestershire) is working hard to reduce the amount of vehicle mileage undertaken by officers and amongst other initiatives has invested in video conferencing facilities accommodated within a dedicated suite. Are other Authorities doing this sort of thing? Would it be possible to continue the TSG meetings from regional 'hubs' whereby attendees travel to a regional venue and all join up to benefit from the discussions / presentation? Is this feasible? I should imagine Leicestershire could accommodate a half day session for attendees from neighbour authories.

    Matt Smith
  • Next Open Meeting will be on the 19th Ocotber 2011 - see the separate discussion entry for more details.
  • Are consultants allowed to attend ?
  • I've checked with Adrian Gray, he will be posting more details about the meeting soon when they have been confirmed.

    At our (and my) last meeting the Committee said we would open up TSG to consultants because of the private sector's increasing role in local authority services and the general direction of travel. So we are happy for them to attend the Open meetings, although we reserve the right to limit numbers if there is a problem in the future.
  • Peter,
    Could you not host this group on LinkedIN as a closed group for TS professional? You can allow individuals access to the group providing they meet your criteria and discussions could be held there were facilities to automatically notify group members of new discussions or people you are following are sent through to your email address. many of your members will be already on LinkedIn and therefore be familiar with the search facilities and messaging. Appologies if you have already discussed this, I am very new to the site.
    Andrew McGuckin
  • Thanks for the suggestion Andrew, we had considered Google and Yahoo Groups, and as you say LinkedIn also offers a good set of facilities. However, they all have the disadvantage that you have to belong to something else before you can get access to the TSG discussions, they also all have a lot of advertising on them.

    This is something that the Committee will be discussing at their next meeting (I imagine, as I retired from it at the last meeting - in anticipation of my own retirement, which hasn't happened yet!)

  • You are correct in that they all have advertising on them. I do feel that the advertising on the LinkedIn site is less than the others. As for requirement to be a member of something else to gain access to the group; many of the group members will already be members of LinkedIn. There are also advantages in that there are already communities of like mended people within the LinkedIn network accessing sites there which could be another source of information to bring in to the group from international and local sources.

    Oh, sorry to hear your retiring..... have they found a replacement yet?

    Kind Regards,
  • Just to say we are looking at social media options, inc Facebook and Twitter (I know some authorities block these sites), but only as additions to this forum, We are also looking at a simple website for posting minutes etc, nothing more complicated at the moment. Although I've not looked specifically at Linkedin, we could look at this. I think we possibly need to trial a few options and see whether they're useful.


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