2015 General Election Hustings



In April 2015, we wrote to the 20 General Election candidates for the four Wirral consituencies with four questions.

Here are the questions and the three responses we received.

Questions



(1) What percentage of the national roads budget should be devoted to pedestrians?
(Some recommendations are
  (a) from the Association of Director of Public Health backed by 110 co-signatory bodies to "commit 10% of transport budgets to walking and cycling" [1]
  (b) from Wirral Pedestrians Association: "allocate spending of 10 per person per year on each of walking and cycling immediately, increasing to 20 per person per year" [2] )

(2) Should 20mph speed limits be the norm where people live, work, shop and learn (as is the case now in Portsmouth, Oxford and many other areas)?

(3) Apart from (1) and (2) above, what do you have in your manifesto that will provide a safer environment for pedestrians?

(4) Do you support a clear 2 metres pavement width for pedestrians, with no vehicles on pavements if less?

[1] Take Action on Active Travel (updated 2010) Association of Directors of Public Health and 110 other signatory bodies:
http://www.adph.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Take_action_on_active_travel_2010.pdf

[2] Vision Zero Merseyside: Proposals to eradicate fatal and serious injuries to
Merseyside pedestrians and cyclists (2013) Wirral Pedestrians Association and Merseyside Cycle Campaign: http://www.vzm.org.uk/files/vision_zero_merseyside.pdf

Responses



Three responses were received, from
  • David James (Commonsense Environmentalism, Wirral West)
  • Allan Brame (Liberal Democrat, Birkenhead)
  • Peter Reisdorf (Liberal Democrat, Wirral West)


From David James (Commonsense Environmentalism, Wirral West):

(1) increasing to 20% specifically for proper cycle routes
(2) No! 20mph is much too fast and wreckless near children playing. I have proposed a 10mph maximum speed near children in my manifesto.
(3) 10mph max speed near children.
(4) I thought it was law to leave adequate room, enough for a pram etc. I can not imagine any decent person doing other than showing consideration to pedestrians; the two meter rule sounds good to me. Should a car "need" to be on the pavement, than "need" must be in balance with the law, the likely obstruction/safety of pedestrians and other vehicles, with the over riding application of commonsense to each situation.
  Our old roads have been adapted to traffic and new roads in estates are narrow to allow greater housing density. Cars have nearly doubled in size as well. There is no joined up thinking and many pavements are less than one meter wide! Besides this, pavements are not structurally strong enough to survive traffic and will fracture and become a hazard.
  I would want the law to be clear on pavement parking and for it to be applied.




From Allan Brame (Liberal Democrat, Birkenhead):

Our national manifesto does not contain many specific policies on provision for pedestrians: these are two paragraphs which refer to related issues:

Our National Air Quality Plan for consultation will include:
  • A legal requirement targeted at the most polluted towns and cities, to create Low Emission Zones.
  • New incentives for local schemes that cut transport-related pollution, and encourage walking and cycling.

  • Update planning law to introduce the concept of 'landscape scale planning' and ensure new developments promote walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport and improve rather than diminish access to green spaces.

Liberal Democrats are very supportive of 20 mph speed limits in residential areas - a few years ago when we were part of the Wirral
administration, we had a scheme ready to go introducing this measure across Wirral, but Labour came to power locally just before it was implemented and halted the scheme.

I am a non-driver and personally fully support measures to improve safety for walking and cycling and to encourage their use as a local means of transport.

I also know our local councillors receive many complaints about pavement parking, which often forces parents with prams or wheelchair users to use the road. Unfortunately it is very difficult to persuade the police to take action on such obstruction, as it is not seen as a top priority. But in principle I would certainly support the measure you propose in question 4).




From Peter Reisdorf (Liberal Democrat, Wirral West):

(1) The higher of the two suggested answers.
(2) Yes, in specific residential areas, but not main roads. Basically the plan that we had for Wirral that has been abandoned.
(3) Making our streets safer for everyone is one of my top priorities and I am proud to say that it has been Liberal Democrat Councillors who have been at the forefront of many successful campaigns across the UK to make residential streets 20mph zones and also we were at the forefront of the so far unsuccessful campign here on Wirral.

In my view, new communities should be built with the needs of pedestrians already in mind. Planning laws should be updated to ensure that all new developments promote walking, car sharing and public transport and all new roads in residential developments should have a 20mph speed limit as standard. Liberal Democrats would also encourage councils to make more use of their existing powers to introduce 20mph speed limits on existing roads. We would make a minister in the Department for Transport responsible for working with them on this and making annual reports on progress.

I was pleased by the announcement in December that the Government would speed up completion of the English Coast Path. By investing an extra 5.3m, we will be able to ensure the Coast Path will be open for all to enjoy by 2020, ten years earlier than originally planned.

We want to introduce a Nature Act in the next Parliament, one of five new green laws that will help us to protect our natural habitat and deliver a massive increase in accessible green space for everyone to enjoy.

It is important that we also do more to help encourage the next generation to walk to school. Thats why Liberal Democrats in Government have set a target of increasing the proportion of children aged 5-10 who are walking to school to 55% by 2020. Our support for the Bikeability scheme will allow more school pupils to start cycling too.

Since 2010, we have invested 588m in cycling, including match funding, almost trebling the investment the last Labour Government made in the previous Parliament. In 2012, a further 159m was made available to help create better cycle links for communities, improve cycle facilities at railway stations and create more cycle-friendly layouts at road junctions.

The decision earlier this year by Liberal Democrats in Government to introduce a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will ensure there is a clear plan to support cycling and walking schemes and spell out how they will be paid for. It will also build on the 1.5m we made available to support the Active Travel Consortium to build capacity in local government to deliver local cycling and walking strategies.

(4) Yes, but like cycling on pavements, which seems to have reached epidemic levels, we seem to be going backwards on that.