GE2017 – Response from Green Party

Clive Martin, Green Party

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Question 1: Dutch-style cycling network for Taunton

Question 2: Adopting up to date design guidance for cycling infrastructure

Question 3: Creating high quality safe cycleways

Question 4: Spending to improve bus services, walking and cycling

Question 5: Working with TACC

 

Q1. My brother-in-law is a keen cyclist and lives in Walthamstow. I stay with him and my sister very regularly as I have to be in London quite often for work. Waltham Forest is one of the London authorities bringing in a “mini-Holland”. Details of the scheme can be found here: Tfl mini-Holland.

I know that initially there was a lot of opposition as roads were made one way or closed altogether to through traffic by the creation of cul-de-sacs but the scheme is well underway now and you can see the benefits. There are identifiably more people walking and cycling than there were a year or two back. I’ve also been to Bristol 3 or 4 times over the last couple of months for work and been struck by the volume of people cycling there and what appears to be a pretty comprehensive network of cycle routes, in many places separated off from vehicles and pedestrians.

If elected I would of course campaign vigorously for this sort of scheme in Taunton and also elsewhere in the constituency.

 
Q2. I’d absolutely support this. My own dealings with Somerset County Council’s Highways Department as an active parish councillor, to arrange for a 20mph speed limit in Bishops Lydeard, have been frustrating. I accept that some of the difficulties may be the result of under-staffing following on from 7 years of cuts to local government funding. But I have found it odd that I have had to point them repeatedly to current Department of Transport advice in this area, and it seems that TACC has also had to point out to them that they are not aware of, or certainly not following, current policy advice.

Realistically the answer to this, and most questions, is where do we find the money? On the one hand we’ve seen the removal of the rural bus support grant and on the other a commitment to spend millions locally on road schemes. We need to turn these priorities on their head, putting support for cycling, pedestrians and public transport at the top of the hierarchy of spending priorities. That sort of shift will only come about when we have elected representatives actually prepared to stand up and admit that the likelihood is that if we spend more on socially useful transport we will spend less on road schemes.

 
Q3. I would of course support this. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the “garden town” designation. The funding for this so far pales into insignificance compared to the huge profits that will be made from building all around Taunton on any available greenfield site. And those new developments at places such as Galmington, West Monkton and Staplegrove, seem to have precious little emphasis on how people living there will travel by anything other than private car.

I am a recreational cyclist. I regularly attend meetings in Taunton but I cannot get safely from Lydeard to Taunton by bike as the A358 is terrifying if you are on a bike, and going round on the lanes takes ages. I have been a member of the campaign for a cycle path from Bishops Lydeard/Cotford to Taunton since its inception and am currently vice-chair of that group. We are actively looking to promote such a route as there will be some money available for this within the next year or two from the new development now planned for Lydeard. We have a route designed for us by Sustrans and are now seeking to meet with landowners to get their views. I hope this is evidence that I am genuinely committed to these ideas.

 
Q4. I am opposed to HS2. I support putting more money into socially useful transport options.

 
Q5. Of course I would be prepared to work with TACC and local authorities on this. The Green Party believes in evidence based policies. We wish to lower the priority of the private car because burning fossil fuels drives climate change which will affect us all. We now know that levels of nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants are way above legal limits in many towns and cities across the UK. There is therefore clear evidence for the dangers posed by private transport as well as the health benefits of cycling. In a rural area with minimal public transport this is a difficult cause to sell to people who are dependent on their car. But we will only progress if we do so on the basis of facts and evidence. As part of that process we have been happy to work with people who have expertise wherever we can. So we would work with TACC because you clearly “know your stuff”.

In the long run, after the election is over, the Green Party will not disappear. We will continue to have members who are active in TACC. We will continue to publicly support your work.