There are elections for the Council happening in Newcastle on the 3rd May 2018. This year new ward boundaries are being introduced. The wider Heaton area will be now covered by three wards: Heaton, Ouseburn and Manor Park.
With lots of new faces we’re keen to find out what the candidates think, in particular about how they plan to address transport-related issues in our community. To do that we’ve come up with five statements or pledges and we have asked each of the candidates whether they support these or if not what they plan to do instead.
Below the candidate’s responses, which we’ll update as they are received, we have also written a bit of background about why we have chosen these particular statements.
Please keep checking back in advance of the elections on 3 May and if one of your candidates has not yet answered please do encourage them to do so. The very least we should expect from future local councillors is a willingness to engage with local residents and share their vision for the future of Heaton.
THE SPACE FOR HEATON PLEDGES
The five pledges we have asked candidates to support are:
- Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
- Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
- Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.
- Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.
- Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.
Please see below for more on why we have chosen these pledges and what they mean in practice.
We are contacting all the candidates and will post their responses below when we receive them. The candidates are listed in the order they appear on the Statement of Persons Nominated on the City Council website
|Christopher Boyle||Liberal Democrats||Agrees with 1-3 and 5. Reservations about 4 explained in the full response below.|
|Alex Collier||Conservative Party|
|Lara Ellis||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|Matthew Folker||Liberal Democrats|
|Andrew Gray||Green Party||Many thanks for your letter asking me to support your five pledges. I am happy to do so, with the additional comments below (especially in relation to pledge 4, where I would like to combine better engagement with a quicker process or trials). See the full response below|
|George Lloyd||Conservative Party|
|Chris Parker||Green Party||Thanks very much for getting in touch and giving me the opportunity to support your pledges, which I do so wholeheartedly. Read the full response|
|Clare Penny-Evans||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|John-Paul Stephenson||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|Jonathan-Fin Tuddenham||Conservative Party|
|Jason Lee Whalley||Liberal Democrats|
|Louise Wilson||Green Party|
Manor Park Ward
|Alex Benson||Labour Party|
|Leanne Conway-Wilcox||Conservative Party|
|Sylvia Copley||Labour Party|
|Paula Dyer||Conservative Party|
|Michael Gardner||Green Party|
|Thomas Gordon||Liberal Democrats||I’m more than happy to give my support to the five pledges! View|
|Charlie Gray||Labour Party|
|Doreen Huddart||Liberal Democrats|
|Florence Kirkby||Conservative Party||Heaton has always been felt to be a pleasant place to live and I am happy to endorse pledges 1, 2, 3 and 5. Pledge 4 I think I might like to consider on a more individual bases.|
|Gregory Stone||Liberal Democrats||Agrees with 1-3 and 5. Reservations about 4 explained in the full response below. Read the full response below|
|Jason Carr||Conservative Party|
|Alistair Chisholm||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|Harry Craggs||Conservative Party|
|Paula Holland||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|Rachel Holland||Green Party||As a Green Party candidate for Ouseburn Ward, I heartily support your five pledges. Read the full response|
|Gareth Kane||Liberal Democrats||The
|Ciaran Morrissey||Liberal Democrats||The
|Ralph Pettingill||Green Party||Fully support the five pledges. Read the full response below|
|Stephen Powers||Labour Party||We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below|
|Aleisha Stansfield||Liberal Democrats||The
|Nicholas Sundin||Conservative Party|
WHY HAVE WE CHOSEN THESE PLEDGES?
Pledge 1. Streets that are safe, and feel safe, for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
Everyone should be able to travel safely whether they walk, cycle, use public transport or drive and should feel safe while they do so, but this isn’t currently the case in Heaton. Often, traffic is fast and heavy, which is intimidating to many people.
Children are less able to look out for themselves and are more likely to be injured or even killed in the event of a collision, so focusing on children, whether travelling independently or with an adult, is a good way to make Heaton safer for everyone.
Children are also more vulnerable to air pollution and children driven to school can be subject to up to ten times worse air quality than children who walk or cycle, and the extra vehicles make it harder for everyone else who needs to drive. Children who walk or cycle also get the benefit of the exercise – with the NHS recommending that children need at least 60 minute of moderate or vigorous exercise every day.
When we say streets ‘that are safe and feel safe’ we mean streets where children can and do walk and cycle to school, to shops or to the park, and where parents feel comfortable to let them. Ultimately it will be for local residents, and in particular parents, to judge whether a street is safe for their children to walk and cycle. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local parents to determine what is needed to achieve this objective.
While it is right that children are the priority, the map below shows the locations of where people have been killed or seriously injured in the Heaton area in the last 10 years (2008-2017). As with other UK cities including Liverpool and Edinburgh we hope Newcastle will also adopt a “Vision Zero” target i.e. zero deaths or serious injuries on Newcastle’s roads.
Pledge 2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
In the last official figures from 2016, both Gosforth and City Centre Air Quality Management Areas (which stretches along Jesmond Road to Heaton) were in breach of the legal limits that should have been met by 2010. Bringing air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible is actually a legal requirement and Newcastle City Council has been mandated by DEFRA to produce a plan to do this by the end of 2018. Our expectation is that legal limits in Newcastle can be achieved by 2020 however that will depend on the detailed modelling currently being undertaken by the Council.
Air pollution affects everyone but it affects the young and the old the most. In Newcastle it has been estimated that 124 lives are lost every year as a result of illegal air pollution just for nitrogen dioxide with particulate matter likely to be responsible for more still. As well as causing early deaths, air pollution is also known to be a major cause of heart disease, lung disease, cancer and has been shown to be responsible for birth defects and cognitive delay in children.
In a recent report, the Royal College of Physicians has recommended that to protect public health, the UK adopt even more ambitious targets than the current legal limits and we hope Newcastle will adopt and work towards meeting those more challenging targets.
Given this is a legal requirement that the Council must meet we expect all candidates will sign up to this pledge.
Pledge 3. Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out without fear of traffic.
Streets aren’t just about movement of traffic. They are also where we live, shop and socialise, and for children also where they are most likely to play outside near their homes.
Many streets in Heaton are suitable for children to play out but many are not. Traffic surveys undertaken by the Council in 2017 show some streets having high volumes of traffic throughout the day. On Warwick Street, a terrace link many in Heaton, but with high volumes on traffic more than 200 vehicles were recorded in one 15 minute period on 7th June 2017.
As a result we don’t see as many children playing out as we might expect and certainly a lot fewer than we when were children ourselves. Parents cannot be blamed for keeping their children indoors with such high volumes of traffic.
Low-traffic neighbourhoods with streets that are safe for children are better for everyone with less noise, less danger and cleaner air. It’s even been shown that people living on streets with less traffic have more friends and a better social life than those that live on streets with heavy traffic. This is no laughing matter when loneliness is now considered such a serious issue that the Government has appointed a Minister for Loneliness to create a national loneliness strategy.
As with pledge 1, it will be for local residents to judge whether a street is pleasant, safe and attractive and where children can play out without fear of traffic. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local residents who have concerns about traffic-related issues to look at options for how this objective can be met for their street.
Pledge 4. Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.
If Pledges 1-3 are to mean anything there must be some meaningful and urgent action as a result. Often changes involving traffic are controversial with long and heated debates about the likely consequences of a change. Yet other cities have shown that there is a different way, with trial interventions that can be implemented quickly that let people experience what will happen without any permanent commitment being made.
Using trials as part of a range of interventions helps inform the debate as people can see the benefits for themselves, and if there are issues with the trial then they can be stated factually with councillors and residents then able to work together to resolve or mitigate those issues.
Clearly not all issues can be resolved straight away but we hope to work with Councillors and other members of the community to identify and prioritise the areas of greatest concern, where trials might receive the most support and have the greatest benefit.
Pledge 5. Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.
Making streets safer and cutting air pollution should be objectives that everyone supports, but it is still important that the council and local councillors engage with the community to ensure that residents understand what the issues are and have a chance to help solve those issues. Air pollution in particular is invisible and we’ve found that many people haven’t been aware that it has been, and continues to be, a problem in Heaton. Nor are people generally aware of the very serious health impact of sedentary lifestyles which cost taxpayers billions of pounds every year and are responsible for even more early deaths than air pollution.
Likewise it is often challenging to put ourselves in others’ shoes, to understand for example what it is like to be a child on Heaton’s streets, what it is like to be a parent cycling or walking with children (or even alone) on busy streets during the rush hour, or what it is like for residents or visitors with disabilities or conditions for whom travel is a challenge. It is only by having this broad engagement that we can ensure that Heaton’s streets are safe and accessible for everyone.
These five pledges are based on SPACE for Heaton’s objectives which you can see here. They don’t cover all the SPACE for Heaton’s objectives but we welcome input from candidates about how they will go about meeting other aspects of those objectives to make streets in Heaton more healthy, liveable, accessible and safe for everyone of all ages and abilities.
Our thanks go to our neighbouring group, SPACE for Gosforth, in helping to put this information together.
7 thoughts on “City Council Elections 2018”
Full response from Greg Stone – Manor Park Liberal Democrat candidate:
1) Yes. I am sympathetic to this aim. I recognise that the definition of ‘safe’ may differ depending on individual perception but believe that this is a reasonable goal.
2) Yes. A Lib Dem administration would favour bringing in safe air quality levels in compliance with legal requirement to do so, and noted the long delay in achieving this since AQMAs were introduced. On the question of “as soon as possible”, we would want to further consider whether a phased gradual approach over a defined period would have greater or lesser merit than an immediate and potentially chaotic implementation.
3) Yes. See also 1 above
4) I am reluctant to support this as worded. Whilst some proposals may certainly be worthy of consideration, I would prefer to seek a commitment to constructive community engagement in such cases, and I have concerns that use of an abridged process may seek to circumvent legitimate local concerns.
5) Yes. I am supportive of this and as noted would support the principle of extending the principle of constructive engagement to 4 above
You may also be interested in the Newcastle Liberal Democrats transport manifesto, which includes the following key points (summarised)
Public Transport – Metro: Metro faces increasing problems of reliability and maintenance of service levels during the interim period before the new rolling stock is introduced. Options for Metro network extension should continue to be considered but the priority must be to protect the current network and service levels.
Public Transport – Buses: We favour adoption of Quality Partnership arrangements with bus operators, including a commitment to enabling bus infrastructure on major arterial routes including the Great North Road, Coast Road, and West Road. In return, we would expect bus operators to co-operate with a requirement to move to introduction of clean low emission buses by 2025. We would also seek to bring forward feasibility studies for new Park and Ride provision on the Coast Road corridor (in conjunction with North Tyneside) and from the Outer West of the city. We have particular concerns about the decision to reduce the Transport Levy when subsidised services are likely to be put at risk as a result.
Air Quality – We await the imminent publication of the council’s draft Air Quality plan and will wish to look closely at it before identifying whether further steps will be needed. We note with interest that Leeds is currently consulting on introduction of a clean air charge for HGVs, buses, and coaches within its urban core within its ring road and motorway network, and would wish to consider whether this could be translated to Newcastle and revenue ring-fenced for use to support public transport and badly needed road and pavement maintenance in the city.
City Centre: We will consult on the introduction of a low emission zone for the city centre within the bus loop. We will review Live After Five free parking. We will seek to implement freight consolidation provision.
Sustainable Transport: We will lobby the new North of Tyne mayoral authority to implement concessionary fares for young people. We will encourage people to use cars less by incentivising people to switch modes one day a week / one week a month. We will seek to restore road safety scheme funding, and to move away from car dependence on the school run.
Cycling & Walking (reproduced in full)
• We believe that active transport should be given the priority commensurate with walking and cycling being at the top of the transport hierarchy. Active transport is healthy, environmentally friendly and creates more convivial local communities.
• We will re-prioritise the completion of the City’s strategic cycle network as this will do most to encourage modal shift. We will introduce gritting (or equivalent) of strategic cycle routes during snow/ice events in winter.
• We will ensure that all changes to road infrastructure include cycle- and pedestrian-friendly features ensuring that new junctions make walking and cycling easier, and that new developments are planned in accordance with walkable / cycleable neighbourhood principles
• We support the essence of Newcycle’s City4Kids manifesto. We will make ‘child friendly’ the standard for cycling infrastructure, work with schools to provide safe access and cycle storage, encourage walking and cycling to school, provide links to other family orientated destinations, and enable communities to take back control of residential roads through projects such as ‘Playing Out’
• We believe that it is important to ensure that local neighbourhood schemes are subject to meaningful local consultation and involvement of local stakeholders in scheme design. We are committed to enhancing cycling and walking infrastructure but we believe that this process will gain greater local support where it can be demonstrated that local concerns have been adequately addressed.
Full Response from Andrew Gray – Heaton Green Party Candidate
In general, I support the ‘Avoid, Shift, Improve’ approach to transport policy. This emphasises the need to reduce the need to travel longer distances and more frequently (Avoid) as the first priority: planning for mixed communities, supporting neighbourhood economies, more secure housing and employment. Second priority is to Shift mode of transport where practicable (from private cars to public transport, cycling or walking). Technical and engineering improvements (to vehicles and streets, the Improve part) are valuable, but come third in the hierarchy. A good summary is at http://www.sutp.org/files/contents/documents/resources/E_Fact-Sheets-and-Policy-Briefs/SUTP_GIZ_FS_Avoid-Shift-Improve_EN.pdf
On the specific pledges:
(1) Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
Excellent, and I understand why you have focussed on safety for children. But we should recognise that safe streets benefit us all, especially our older and younger residents. This pledge needs to be underpinned by support for our local shops and neighbourhood facilities – we need to support the shops, schools and parks so that we have places to walk and cycle to!
I am an enthusiastic supporter of Vision Zero, and share your aspiration that Newcastle joins other cities in adopting the Vision Zero Charter.
(2) Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
Thank you to SPACE for Heaton for taking forward air pollution monitoring, using the university’s equipment to compile and publicise accurate readings. Our own spot monitoring for fine particulates on Chillingham Road in 2015 showed that further monitoring of more areas here is required (as Greens had first asked for in 2006). At a city-wide level, we focussed on traffic-related air pollution for our General Election launch in June last year.
As well as targetting the worst air pollution hotspots, where legal limits are already frequently breached, I look forward to working with SPACE for Heaton members if elected on 3rd May, to push for more widespread monitoring in both residential areas and our main traffic routes. This work should be overseen by the Council, but might involve residents, university partners and ‘citizen scientists’ working with the Council.
(3) Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.
Absolutely! As well as the safety and play aspects of this question, we need streets that are pleasant and attractive, not least to ensure that neighbours meet and that we all enjoy using Chillingham Road, Heaton Road, our two parks and community centre etc. Safe and pleasant streets are closely linked to feeling good about our area and maintaining a safe and vibrant neighbourhood.
This year’s ‘play streets’ initiative from the Council is welcome, but may need more input from local councillors to ensure success within Heaton, where our higher turnover means that existing residents’ groups are less well established than in some other areas.
Greens also support extension of the 20MPH speed limits to cover all local roads as well as cross streets. This would ensure greater clarity for motorists and mean that the lower speeds would be more likely to be observed. It would also avoid through roads being used as ‘fast corridors’, which spoil the overall sense of safety within our streets.
(4) Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.
Trials are an important tool, especially where road layout or surfacing changes are needed but likely to challenge existing routes and modes of travel that we have come to rely on. My caveat for this pledge is that they need to be part of, not a substitute for, early community engagement (as in your next pledge).
The important point that this pledge makes is that the process of making changes should not be protracted and drawn-out, in which progress is too slow for meaningful consultation and where dissatisfaction with the process gets in the way of making changes. We need a transparent process and timetables: engaging with residents at an early stage, moving on to trials, further debate and clear decision making. Speed and engagement are not in opposition but can work together to get the right results, and trials are often a part of achieving that. Councillors also have a role, in ensuring that the process is properly communicated to residents, and in avoiding any suggestion that early ideas are a ‘fait accompli’ and already decided by the Council.
(5) Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.
Absolutely. The Blue House working group has shown the value of trusting residents with detailed engagement and consultation, and enabled groups who otherwise might have been in opposition to each other to work together on that project. While the Council cannot replicate that process in every part of the city for every traffic scheme, councillors have a role to play in ensuring that the whole community is engaged at an early stage and in sufficient detail. This will ensure that proposals are improved at an early stage, that good schemes can progress quickly rather than getting bogged down in disputes, and that all the health, community and safety benefits of a greener transport policy can be addressed effectively.
I hope that those additional comments are useful, and thank you again for leading this initiative within Heaton.
Full response from Heaton and Ouseburn Labour Candidates
Thank you for asking about our commitment your five pledges. We are happy to endorse all of the pledges.
Pledge 1: Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park
Labour has supported work that contributes towards these aims in Newcastle including:
• Employment of a dedicated Road Safety Manager by the Council who works with schools across the city to develop School Travel Plans. These ensure that all children are able to walk and cycle to school wherever possible.
• The Play Streets Initiative whereby residents can apply to have their street closed to traffic for a few hours so that children can play in a traffic–free street.
• The Streets for People (S4P) programme is an excellent example of how the Council have engaged with residents to identify areas where there are problems and work to find solutions. 3 areas of the City (Heaton/Ouseburn, Jesmond and Fenham) each have £1m to spend on making improvements to make it easier to walk and cycle in their area.
• The Newcastle Street Charter that commits the Council to do all it can to ensure the city is accessible to people with disabilities.
Pledge 2: Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible
The Labour vision for Newcastle is for the city to be one of the cleanest, greenest and most innovative cities in Northern Europe. Clean air is fundamental to achieving this vision.
National Government has been challenged by a range of organisations and in July 2017 published the Air Quality Plan. This Plan identified 3 areas of the city which exceeded the recommended levels of NO2. Newcastle City Council is working with neighbouring authorities to address this problem to ensure compliance with EU Air Quality directives within the shortest possible time.
Work to improve the air quality in the city has included:
• Created the first ever Cabinet role for Air Quality
• Have a Council fleet of electric vehicles (including the Lord Mayor’s car)
• Introduced smart traffic signals in the city centre
• Overseen the introduction of Mobike, a dockless cycle hire scheme
• Installed the first ever moss tree in England
• Gained £3.3m to improve buses operating in the City to Euro 6 standard
• Improved cycling infrastructure with funding from the Cycle City Ambition Fund.
• Invested more than £10m in improving cycle routes across the city, upgrading crossing points and junctions to make cycling safer
• Launched an over-50’s cycling school to encourage those looking to take up cycling for the first time
• Signed up the to the Clean Energy campaign and committed Newcastle to end reliance on fossil fuels by 2050
• Begun work on Clean Air Zones to tackle pollution from diesel vehicles and promoted better air quality for future generations
• Developed a bus loop in the city centre that will improve journey times and air quality
• Introduced “smart traffic signals” which will improve safety for pedestrians at crossings and improve journey times
• Secured £2m to clean up the River Tyne around St Anthony’s tar works site (previously a major source of pollution into the river
• Worked with other Tyne & Wear councils to bring the running of the Metro back into public ownership and led the successful lobby to get Government investment for new trains
• Worked in partnership with Northumbrian Water to install the first ever “Moss Tree” in England. The data from this will be monitored by the Urban Observatory for 6 months to check the impact this has on improving air quality
• We have made improvements on Heaton Road for cyclist
• Developed the City Stadium Cycle Path
• We have supported residents led work within the Ouseburn Valley
Pledge 3: Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out without fear of traffic.
Labour agree that streets are about more than the movement of traffic. Streets are where we live, shop and socialise, and for children also where they are most likely to play outside near their homes.
Work in this area includes:
• the Play Streets Initiative (mentioned above) and
• a 20MPH speed limit in residential streets across the city.
The Healthy Streets Board which brings together representatives from various organisations including Public Health to discuss the introduction of initiatives to make our streets healthier and safer places to be.
Newcastle City Council has also signed up to the Newcastle Streets Charter. This address street issues, and raise public awareness of the impact these issues have on a range of street users. This highlights those with mobility problems and visual impairment.
Pledge 4: Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.
We agree that improvements should be tested and implemented as speedily as possible.
Temporary changes can be used as a means to gain data on air quality, road safety, congestion and travel times to inform decisions on permanent changes.
The time it takes to introduce changes can be frustrating. A willingness to change processes and practices – such as double-shift operations used in the recent works on Barrass Bridge – can speed the implementation of some schemes.
Labour’s vision for the Council is that is should always listen to resident’s concerns, and should adapt interventions measures where appropriate. Rapid implementation of temporary changes must be conducted within a legal framework which outlines the timeframe for things like consultation periods.
Pledge 5 : Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.
Labour is completely committed to constructive community engagement and this has been referred to in the responses to some of your previous pledges.
Schemes such as Streets for People, which has undergone a comprehensive consultation and Newcastle Street Charter which saw consultation with many community groups are good examples of this.
There is also the Transport Forum which includes representatives from pedestrian groups, cycle groups, older people’s groups and disability groups. There are regular consultations with the Elders Council, RNIB, Guide Dogs Association and other voluntary organisations on proposals.
In addition we also have in our Manifesto the following Pledges that we feel are relevant to the pledges you have asked us to consider.
• Prioritise pedestrians and public transport in the city centre;
• Challenge bus operators (who are private providers, independent of the Council) to – work towards zero-emissions fleets;
• continue to work with transport providers to provide discounted fares for people accessing education or starting work;
• Campaign for stronger powers to ban cars from idling, especially near schools;
• Continue to invest in new cycling infrastructure, and encourage more people in the city to cycle
• We will continue to tackle fly tipping and prosecute those who fly tip using the council’s powers to seize and crush offender’s vehicles.
• We will encourage local schools to take part in school based education programmes to reduce littering.
• We will Continue to support Healthy schools programme to ensure children learn about importance of healthy eating, physical activity and know how to keep themselves safe and how to be emotionally healthy.
• We will aim to make Newcastle the first Health start city’ by ensuring defibrillators are available in a range of places including businesses schools and public buildings
• We will continue to work on policies to reduce access to hot food takeaways across the city not just outside schools.
• We will Work towards Newcastle being recognised as UNICEF child friendly its where the voice of children and young people are heard when decisions are made and their rights are respected and upheld.
• We will Tackle empty properties and use Councils regulatory powers to promote decent housing standards for all
• We Work with partners to make Newcastle a dementia friendly city.
Locally if elected as Heaton & Ouseburn Councillors would look at how these schemes can be adapted and made specific for Heaton & Ouseburn Wards.
• We would bring the Pride in Newcastle scheme from our Newcastle Labour manifesto to the Heaton Area.
• We will work with cafes and business on reducing single use plastic and bring the Refil scheme to Heaton in partnership with Northumbrian water.
• We will look to continue our work with the local Parks; being involved in funding activities within the parks such as green gym in Iris Brickfield as well as Heaton Festival.
• We will continue to be involved in Litter picks in the Heaton Area parks and in the back lanes of the Heaton Area aiming to keep Heaton an attractive place to live.
From Ouseburn & Heaton Labour Candidates
Response from Rachel Holland, Green Party Candidate for Ouseburn
I have brought up my two children in Heaton, and poor air quality and the high number of vehicles dominating our streets have been worries to me all their lives.
There are too many cars and vans making too many journeys. We need better public and community transport. Pedestrians and cyclists need to be prioritised.
We need more play streets (permanent and occasional). Our residential streets need much improved bin-collection and street-cleaning services, and to have more green areas created.
Our Council needs to be both imaginative and engaged in its response to the environmental degradation of our City. Public health and well-being are a primary concern and closely linked to these issues.
As a Green Party candidate for Ouseburn Ward, I heartily support your five pledges.
Full response from Chris Parker, Heaton Green Party Candidate
Thanks very much for getting in touch and giving me the opportunity to support your pledges, which I do so wholeheartedly.
It is inspiring and reassuring to read your vision to make Heaton a more pleasant and human place for all of us. The key themes of meaningful social interaction, clean air, transparent community engagement and better public health are well developed areas of interest within the Green Party.
In my work as a community nurse, I regularly meet people living with the lasting effects of a sedentary lifestyle and poor air quality. The public health impacts of travel, and issues which surround it, are more than just numbers on a page to me. If elected as a councillor, I would provide a strong voice to make sure the options for active travel get a fair hearing and are properly developed.
Previous styles of public consultation and implementation of change have understandably left some Heaton residents feeling sceptical about changes to local infrastructure. In particularly, I worry that any proposed changes can come across as a war against the motorist. I am required to drive for work, so I do understand this concern, but it is important to remember that cyclists also often own a car, and car drivers are sometimes pedestrians (I hope!).
By focussing on individuals and families as Heaton residents as the starting point for discussion, rather than simple labels of how many wheels you use, I hope we can work together to make the neighbourhood better for everyone.
Full response from Christopher Boyle, Liberal Democrat candidate for Heaton ward.
Thank you for your recent letter. You asked whether I can support five pledges. Having had the pleasure of working with you previously in considering the City Council’s proposals for Heaton, my responses are:
1) Yes. ‘Safe’ may differ depending on individual perception but this is an important goal. Greater numbers of children cycling to school in a safe environment may well assist pedestrians and car-users also.
2) Yes. This is a legal requirement. A Lib Dem administration would favour bringing in safe air quality levels in compliance with legal requirement to do so, and noted the long delay in achieving this since AQMAs were introduced. On the question of “as soon as possible”, we would want to further consider whether a phased gradual approach over a defined period would have greater or lesser merit than an immediate and potentially chaotic implementation. Financial resources may need to be allocated or found in order to support and achieve this aim.
3) Yes. I support the efforts being made by some streets to achieve this already, and would work to support future schemes where residents want to improve their environment.
4) No. I am not against trials, but they must be within an environment of constructive community engagement. ‘Rapid implementation’ suggests effecting change without this. Schemes should only be introduced with adequate support of residents. Where temporary schemes are trialled they must be genuinely temporary or trials – ie capable of being withdrawn where objections justify this. ‘Rapid implementation’ and ‘trial scheme’ may not lead to a good relationship (of trust, confidence etc) between residents and the Local Authority.
5) Yes. It is not possible to object to this. There is a at least a potential tension between point 4. and point 5.
Full response from Ralph Pettingill, Green Party candidate for Ouseburn ward
Thanks for contacting me regarding your work and the five pledges. I have lived in Ouseburn ward for five years and worked across the East End for over 10 years. I am a keen cyclist and fully support the five pledges, which are consistent with Green Party policy.
City policies need to encourage neighbourhood and local development, to help reduce unnecessary journeys in the first place.
Public transport in the city is in many ways out of date. Our bus services need modernising and to be more locally accountable. It concerns me when I see a row of expensive, half empty diesel fuelled buses moving around the ward. How about a mixed fleet, including smaller zero carbon buses? I would also like to see more community owned, social enterprise car share schemes using zero pollution electric vehicles. Many people end up owning a car out of necessity: I think it’s possible to dramatically reduce current levels of individual car ownership with creative, flexible transport solutions.
As part of community engagement I would want children and young people to be systematically involved in all consultations about our neighbourhood, as well as adults in the community.
I am appreciate the efforts that Space for Heaton has already initiated and would be happy to engage further in your work in future. As well as improving health, enjoyment and safety in Ouseburn ward, these initiatives also help reduce the carbon pollution that causes planet damaging climate change.
If elected councillor I would campaign for a holistic approach to all aspects of planning across the ward and the city. When streets are safe for walkers and cyclists they can also become more neighbourly and sociable. As well as being bad for our health, our current polluting transport systems are quite anti-social in their effect.
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