Election Countdown – Manifesto Update

UPDATE 5 May – Final Update before Election Day

This Thursday, 6th May, marks polling day in the Local and Parliamentary here in the Borough of Richmond. By all accounts, here is one of  your greatest opportunities to influence the approach to cycling in your local area and according to the Evening Standard,  “Cyclists Could Hold the Balance of Power at Election“. At RCC, we put together a Cycling Manifesto for Richmond, and earlier this month we sent it out to all the candidates in the main parties. These manifestos are being used throughout London in the different LCC Local Groups.

First off, we have to state that RCC has no political affiliations to any of the parties and takes no position in support of any party or candidate. Whatever your political opinion though, please vote.  Please make sure those around you vote. Universal suffrage wasn’t achieved in this country until 1928 – here is one story of what people went through to achieve it…

We can’t stress enough that the make up of the council has a big impact on cycling in the local area, both positive and negative.

Local Elections
We’ve included comments from the parties and their candidates below along with a review of their policy towards cyclists and cycling in the Borough.

So (in alphabetical order):

In a review of their local manifesto, their cycling policy is a commitment to “Work towards completion of the Borough cycle network”. Two policy areas which have the potential to impact cyclists in the Borough are the pledges to introduce “30 minute free parking borough-wide in both car parks and on-street” and to review “bus lane usage with a view to allowing cars to drive or park in bus lanes outside peak times“.

We had responses to the manifesto from the following candidates:
Cllr Frances Bouchier, candidate for South Richmond
– Regular cyclist and uses bicycle to go to council offices. Supports wishes to see it safer. Would like to see Richmond a model cycling borough. Supports manifesto, though with reservations about point 8

Cllr Clare Head, candidate for South Twickenham
– Wants to work with groups like RCC and would like to develop a yearly cycle event. Would like to develop linkages with surrounding boroughs and to have a more structured approach to infrastructure development

Katharine Robinson, candidate for North Richmond
– Regular cyclist (doesn’t own a car) and suports manifesto. Would like us to support their campaign to have more potholes fixed

Green Partyhttp://richmond.greenparty.org.uk/
The Green Party have provided a detailed response to our manifesto on behalf of all their 11 candidates, which you can find here – RCC Manifesto – Green Party Response

They strongly support the growth of cycling in the borough and fully endorse RCC’s manifesto, on what needs to be done to boost cycling in the borough.

They highlight that because “cycling and walking have historically been viewed as ‘add-ons’, and not a central theme of transport policy that these groups of road users are not accorded priority”. They state that “Cycling has to be part of a coherent transport  strategy” and that ” there has to be greater joined-up thinking at local, London and national level.”

In addition, we had individual responses from the following candidates:

James Page, candidate for Mortlake and Barnes Common
– Wholeheartedly supported our manifesto, highlighting that the widespread cycle training for children now in place is largely due to the efforts of the Greens on the GLA

Monica Saunders, candidate for Fulwell and Hampton Hill
– Supported the manifesto and highlighted that cycling and walking can be so easily incorporated into everyday activity with changes to how we design our communities and change our priorities.

Liberal Democratshttp://richmondlibdems.co.uk
The Liberal Democrats welcomed the manifesto, and posted a copy on the Richmond Liberal Democrats website. They stated that “Through the Smarter Travel Richmond campaign we want people to reduce their dependence on the car and to walk and cycle. We will encourage cycling by training; sufficient cycle parking; making journeys easier for cyclists; improving cyclist awareness among drivers; encouraging council staff and members to cycle; improving signage and properly consulting cyclists. We have pledged in our manifesto to introduce 20 mph limits where supported on residential roads and share the mayor’s target of increasing cycling by 400 %. If more people cycled, they would also be healthier.”

In addition, the following individual responses were given:
Cllr Serge Lourie, current Council Leader and candidate for Kew
– Welcomed the manifesto and stated that “cycling is clearly an activity that we wish to encourage”.

Cllr Trigg, candidate for Twickenham Riverside
– Supported manifesto and highlighted how he felt the Liberal Democrat administration had been strongly supportive of cycling with through initiatives such as SmarterTravelRichmond

Cllr Geoff Acton, candidate for St Maraget’s and North Twickenham
– Supported manifesto and would like to see Richmond as a model borough for cycling

Cllr Jonathan Cardy, candidate for Fulwell and Hampton Hill
– Frequent cyclist for who the bicycle is the main mode of transport

Cllr Martin Elengorn, candidate for Teddington
– Very supportive of cycling, supports Richmond’s cycle training in schools, which he feels is one if not the best in London. Supports 20mph limits

Cllr Brian Miller, candidate for Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside
– Rides his bike for leisure and supports the growth of cycling

Morag McKinnon, candidate for South Richmond
– Endorsed manifesto

Tanya Williams, candidate for South Richmond
– Felt manifesto was excellent and hoped to make progress on it in the next council

Parliamentary Elections
Although we wrote to all the parliamentary candidates for the two seats that cover the borough, Richmond Park and Twickenham, we only received responses from Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith.

Zac Goldsmith, Richmond Park Candidate
He stated that in principal he totally endorsed what we’d said and that encouraging cycling should be a major priority for a future Conservative Government. He “fully recognised the benefits cycling can bring for tackling congestion and improving public health” but did caution that “with the state of the economy, it was hard to make meaningful financial commitments”. He stated that “Conservatives would change the culture of highways planning to push the concerns of cyclists much higher up the agenda of the professionals who manage our roads”, “encouraging DfT officials to “think cyclist”” He also stated that they would “introduce a moratorium on building on any disused rail lines still in public ownership”, keeping open “the possibility of re-opening them for cycle use in the future.” In addition, they would “reform the much-criticised Transport Innovation Fund”, with the aim to “free these funds to create a Transport Carbon Reduction Fund to support sustainable travel.”

Liberal Democrats
Vince Cable MP, Twickenham Candidate
He stated that he cycled for pleasure at weekends and that he supported the growth of cycling in London. He would also like Richmond to be a model cycling borough and was happy to support RCC’s Cycling manifesto. We also note that Vince Cable has signed up to the CTC’s Vote Bike Campaign.

Alongside what London Cycling Campaign has been doing, The CTC have also had a campaign nationwide called “Vote Bike“. This has specific sections on each of the parties:
Labour – http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5394
Liberal Democrathttp://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5395

Finally (if you’ve made it this far!) it is also worth checking out some of the coverage of the elections elsewhere in the media:
– Richmond and Twickenham Times –  Battle Lines Drawn in Local Council Elections
– Guardian Blog – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/14/general-election-cyclist-pledges
– Christian Wolmer commentary – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/apr/12/cycling-government-policy