A sample ballot paper

Following the recent announcement that the low traffic neighbourhood trial in Heaton will be removed this week, we asked the candidates standing in Ouseburn ward if they wanted to share their views.

Ouseburn ward covers the area where all the trial LTN measures were installed.

The following statements have been received from candidates (in ballot paper order)

Alistair Chisholm, Labour & Co-operative Candidate

We have a responsibility to protect our climate and our environment for future generations.  We can’t just wait for other people to make global changes.  We have to make those changes in our homes, streets and communities.  I hoped that the Heaton Low Traffic Neighbourhood trial would be a winning example of this kind of local change.  

I’m disappointed that the scheme hasn’t worked the way that we all wish for, and you may already have read my blog post about the current scheme here (https://www.alistairchisholm.com/blog/low-traffic-neighbourhood-update).  But it’s important that we don’t give up.  If re-elected, I intend to keep working through the Labour administration to bring new proposals back, not just one day, but soon.

In the meantime, there are things that can be done now. A “lessons learned” exercise should be run with local residents to ensure these are captured while the experience of the scheme is fresh in our memories.  Perhaps a proper representative poll of the community could be run to get a reliable picture of local attitudes to the scheme.  And we need to begin now building a stronger coalition of advocates for change.

There is also work to be done to review and improve Council processes, especially around consultation, where our current practices feel old fashioned and impressionistic, and where I think we place too little emphasis on ensuring that the voices of all, including disabled people, young people and less affluent residents, are fully heard.

On the LTN itself, we need to prove that safer streets can be popular enough to work.  That includes learning from examples elsewhere in the country where sufficient acceptance has been demonstrated.  It means rebuilding the cross-party political will that existed until very recently.

If you’re a Lib Dem voter, you might want to ask your representatives to focus more on working collaboratively to make sure the Heaton LTN doesn’t end here, and less on political point scoring.

If you’re usually a Labour voter, I ask you to put your faith in me, even if you’re feeling angry about the loss of the scheme.  Ouseburn ward needs a Labour councillor committed to the principles of net-zero, lower pollution and sustainable transport, who will keep speaking up for these values and the ward within the Labour group and the Council.

The Lib Dems need to embrace more grown-up and honest politics.  They now call the LTN a “Labour Council-designed […] leaky scheme” which was badly handled “from start to finish”.  In fact, they were consulted on and approved every single design and communication from initial consultation in November 2021 to implementation in October 2022.  This crude attempt to re-write history for electoral advantage fractures the broad community alliance needed to make meaningful change.

Labour needs the courage to correct, improve and finish what we started.  

Fiona Punchard, Liberal Democrat Candidate

Ouseburn Lib Dems have always supported measures to cut the traffic in the Heaton Park View area. Thousands of commuters were squeezing through residential streets every day to avoid traffic on the major routes in and out of the city, bringing congestion, hazard and pollution with them. 

The Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) was an opportunity to change this and bring peace and clean air to our residential streets. The experimental scheme designed by the Council had its flaws, not least by allowing rat-running through the back lanes, but it was a start. My Councillor colleagues Mike Cookson and Gareth Kane flagged these problems early on so they could and should have been addressed, but the Council did nothing.

The Labour leadership’s decision to just let the LTN process run out of time was an act of political cowardice, as is the belated attempt to blame it on Council officials. If elected, I will work with the community to develop a Plan B and work towards cleaner, greener streets for everyone.

Other Candidates

Gabriella Leavitt for the Green Party and Marie Summersby for the Conservative Party are also standing. If we get responses from them we will update this page.