GE2019 – Response from Labour Party
Response from Liam Cadham, received 21 November 2019
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Q1. The short answer is yes. I absolutely support a network that enhances our ability to cycle and cycle safely. There are many benefits to more of us cycling, ranging from health, climate and economic. The Dutch are renowned for leading the way in terms of both cycling take up and infrastructure specifically designed for cycling and safe cycling. There are many things that we can learn from the Dutch approach, but of course there are also differences and so an approach influenced by the Dutch system, but recognising our own requirements has to be considered.
Department of Transport funding for cycling initiatives has to increase if we are to provide the infrastructure that will not only keep our cyclists safe, but also contribute to tackling the climate crisis and decarbonisation targets. The rate of spend on cycling and walking per head outside of London in 2016 was calculated at just £1.38, which frankly is nowhere near good enough. There is absolutely a role for the Local Enterprise Partnership to play also. If we want to build thriving communities, we need our LEPs to actively support the implementation of cycling infrastructure and encouraging members to support cycling initiatives and schemes.
If after 12th December we have a Labour Government, then we have committed to spending at least £10 per head on cycling and walking initiatives to kick start our approach to investing in a cycling transformation for the UK. If, elected as MP for Taunton Deane I would campaign to whichever Party was in Government to increase the per head spend on cycling and walking and work with our Local Authority to enhance their provision for cycling infrastructure. In addition to this we must ensure at the front and centre of our new developments is a robust and plan for cycling and walking infrastructure and that it is not left as an afterthought towards the end of a development. This has to be considered as a condition of planning going forward.
Q2. There absolutely has to be a review of whether design and planning guidelines being used by authorities is fit for purpose and enabling us to meet the targets we need to meet as a society. Labour, as set out in Labour for a Green New Deal for example, has radical plans to decarbonise by 2030. Of course, cycling and increasing the uptake of cycling has a major part to play in helping us realise these targets, so it stands to reason that we would want design and planning guidelines that help us to achieve this. As stated above, the shift as to where cycling and walking infrastructure is considered within the development phase from being an afterthought to being at the forefront of a development.
Q3. We are extremely lucky in Taunton Deane to be served by a main line train service. The links that this can provide us as residents to other major town and cities across the Country is fantastic. I absolutely believe that links such as this would be better served by enhanced cycling infrastructure from the edges of the town and into the centre. Providing a safe cycle route out of the town and into, is of fundamental importance. I spent just under 10 years in the Police service and sadly have dealt with fatal traffic collisions involving cyclists and cars. Unfortunately, this has put me off of road cycling completely and I remain on my static bike in my garage. In my family, 2 of my brothers are keen cyclists and have been cycling all around France, however it terrifies me the thought of them being out on the road, particularly in this Country, because of the lack of safety for cyclists. We absolutely need the high-quality safe cycle routes. The one from Bishops Lydeard to Taunton has been talked about for years but nothing materialised as yet. The major A road into and out of Taunton should have segregated safe cycling lanes – a missed opportunity. Cycling should be for the many not the brave. If we really want to radically change the culture in this Country, deal with the climate crisis, enhance our health, then we must encourage many many more people to take up cycling and to do that we have to make it safe, so I would support and lobby for any such opportunity to do so.
Q4. I touched upon this in my answer to question 1 – I absolutely believe that there should be more funding made available from Central Government, particularly DfT, for provisions such as cycling, walking and public transport. As mentioned in my answer, funding per head specifically for walking and cycling is currently woefully inadequate and Labour have committed to significantly raising this. There is also a role for private companies as well I strongly believe – especially housing developers when building new developments and ensuring fit for purpose cycling infrastructure becomes a component of the planning stage as discussed in previous answers.
Q5. I would absolutely be prepared to work with TACC and our Local Authorities if elected. As stated, I have had my own personal experiences around the requirements to invest in enhanced infrastructure to make cycling safer. It is good to see Somerset West and Taunton Council create a portfolio and officer role around the Climate Emergency, however this cannot just be a ‘figure head’ position and must lead to real change happening. There is so much riding on our ability as a nation to get this right, that we cannot allow party politics to get in the way of delivering what is in the interests of both our fellow citizens health, economy and indeed our planet – so I am committed to working with all members from whatever political persuasion to ensure that we find a way through for key improvements such as these outlined here to be made.