Home
Pro-cycling MP Greg Clark takes over at Department for Communities and Local Government

The replacement of Eric Pickles with MP Greg Clark as head of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) could be a beacon of hope for cycling, say campaigners.

In David Cameron's new Conservative majority government Clark replaces Pickles, who was widely criticised for his pro-car stance and relaxation of town centre parking restrictions, once famously saying on a visit to Cambridge that cycling favoured the "elite".

New DCLG secretary of state, Clark has shown his pro-cycling colours in the past, having spearheaded a campaign to increase cycling levels in his Tunbridge Wells constituency in 2013.

Ralph Smyth, transport campaign manager at Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), is cautiously optimistic about Clark's appointment. He said: "I don't want to over egg the pudding by saying he's going to challenge parking because there will be a backlash, but [Clark] has championed cycling in his local area, which is bound to mean a different approach - a better approach."

Smyth says Clark is a big train and cycling fan who has championed better cycling provision in new developments. He hopes this will continue in Clark's new role, especially in large house building schemes.

He said: "We would like to see better planning guidance that helps build in high rates of walking and cycling. There are lot of towns that are having  huge amounts of housing chucked in, and it makes sense to get people in those new homes cycling."

"A lot of housing developments a lot of residents oppose because there is a fear of lots more traffic. If you build in Dutch style cycle infrastructure you won't have the extra cost of expanding road capacity."

The Department for Communities and Local Government is a planning inspectorate with powers to shape road schemes and new developments. Under Pickles' tenure, a series of measures were green lighted to make parking in towns easier, as well as major road schemes, which were criticised for making cycling less attractive, including the removal of the only cycle route across the river on a major road in Maidstone

In the past Clark has said he wanted to see more cycle lanes in Tunbridge Wells, and to make the roads safer so more people feel comfortable on bikes, including kids cycling to school. 

The CTC's Sam Jones said: "We already know Clark is better for cycling than Pickles, as he has been quite active with the Tunbridge Wells Bicycle User Group in the past."

During the general election David Cameron signed up to Vote Bike, including a pledge to  support the creation of consistently high design standards for cycling in all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned road maintenance work.

A review of planning system works for cycling is on the cards as part of the draft Cycling Delivery Plan (CDP), released to general dismay last year hours before a long-planned debate on cycling was tabled in the Commons following the Get Britain Cycling report.

Jones said: "We feared the review mentioned in the draft CDP would be a token review under Pickles but the chance of it being worthwhile is much more promising under Clark."

19 comments

Avatar
Beatnik69 [388 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The proof will be in the pudding, although Eric Pickles may have eaten all the pudding...  4

Avatar
HarrogateSpa [475 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Do we know who is the transport minister with responsibility for cycling?

Avatar
the little onion [160 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It is worth pointing out that there was sod-all money promised for cycling (unlike other transport infrastructure) in the Tory manifesto, so whilst he may have good intentions, he may not have the means to deliver them. Also, whilst cycling infrastructure can and should be integrated into new housing and road planning, it goes against the Tory commitment to boost housing development by reducing regulation and directives. He may be an improvement on Pickles in terms of attitude, but he may not be able to deliver

Avatar
zanf [932 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

Do we know who is the transport minister with responsibility for cycling?

The Secretary of State for Transport is still Patrick McLoughlin

Avatar
onthebummel48 [32 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Goodwill is back in this seat. Not the most effective minister, but he did get Government to commit to the £10ph per year figure and took flak from the Sec of State for doing so.

Avatar
rogertheref [1 post] 2 years ago
0 likes

Even better news....in Greg Clark's constituency Tunbridge Wells, he suppported this 'stop-the-traffic' protest

http://www.courier.co.uk/cyclists-recreated-Dutch-protest-1970s/story-26...

Avatar
benb [80 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Ridiculous that whether cycling is encouraged and nurtured, or suppressed and sidelined, is entirely dependent on the whim and personality of a couple of ministers.

We need legally enforceable minimum design standards that local authorities must adhere to when creating cycling infrastructure, and an active travel bill requiring cycling and walking to be given priority whenever new roads are built, or existing roads modified or maintained.

Avatar
atgni [429 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Avatar
Laura Laker [20 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Responsibility for cycling hasn't been announced yet, Mcloughlin remains transport Secretary of State but Robert Goodwill previously had cycling within that dept. Announcement for transport responsibilities should be soon.

Avatar
Duncann [1046 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Greg Clark seems a decent bloke but don't expect miracles - he won't get much Government or wider voter support for anything seen to be anti-car/motorist.

But he's bound to be better than Pickles - even if praise doesn't get much fainter than that.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Considering how slim their majority is, has Eric Pickles been made minister of get-your-lardy-arse-in-shape-before-you-have-a heart-attack ?

Avatar
ron611087 [356 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Tweeted by Eric Pickles on 11/05/15: "Come to think of it @gregclarkmp could probably do a better jog than me but I'm getting there"

The mind boggles. Pickles jogging is something I gotta see. It might even be better than his typing.

Avatar
JohnAc [8 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

What is worrying is that we don't actually know where Eric Pickles is going to end up.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
john.ackers wrote:

What is worrying is that we don't actually know where Eric Pickles is going to end up.

I think Greggs is a good bet.

Avatar
oldstrath [785 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

They are still all Tories. They are still dependent on money from the elite, and conning enough silly sods to vote them into power. They will still be chasing the Clarkson-alike 'my car is my freedom' fuckwit vote. At best we'll be shafted by a man who talks more nicely than Pickles.

Avatar
Roger Geffen [61 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Pickles has been appointed as an anti-corruption tsar: http://www.brentwoodgazette.co.uk/Eric-Pickles-leave-cabinet-anti-corrup...
(Presumably to pick battles with the Lutfur Rahmen's of the world?)

Anyway, it sounds like he'll no longer be standing in the way of the progress of cycling!

Avatar
AJ101 [277 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

After they chose someone who voted against same sex marriage to be equalities minister I'm surprised they never made Pickles the minister for health.

Still, as someone who previously closed down the country's anti corruption unit he is well placed to, errr, stop corruption.

Avatar
AJ101 [277 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Avatar
oozaveared [934 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
benb wrote:

Ridiculous that whether cycling is encouraged and nurtured, or suppressed and sidelined, is entirely dependent on the whim and personality of a couple of ministers.

We need legally enforceable minimum design standards that local authorities must adhere to when creating cycling infrastructure, and an active travel bill requiring cycling and walking to be given priority whenever new roads are built, or existing roads modified or maintained.

It's not really ridiculous. In every walk of life there are rules and guidelines. You can make as many as you like, but they are enthusiastically welcomed, actively enforced, grudgingly enforced, just about complied with, ignored when no-one is looking, ignored even if people are looking or actively subverted depending on the attitude to them by the people having to comply with and enforce them.

You must know as a cyclist that all kinds of traffic rules are completely ignored, the police don't bother enforcing them even if they happen right in front of them.

We have legally enforceable rules about killing people when you're driving a car. But it relies on the police officers, CPS lawyers, jurors and judges to determine the outcome.

Parliament could pass a law tomorrow to do as you say. But if every developer and council official, highways officer and contractor didn't think much of them then they might do just about enough to comply with the technical letter of the law. So it's a question of personnel. Is the person in charge looking to use the rules to improve cycling facility, or looking for loopholes, exceptions, discretionary areas and ways to provide as little support as they can without actually breaking the rules.