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Politicians from main four parties in England will set out plans for Active Travel at live streamed event this evening – join the conversation here

Welcome to a special edition of our live blog with Laura Laker and Simon MacMichael bringing you the latest from this evening's Active Travel Hustings, hosted by Brompton Bicycle at their factory in Greenford, West London. Brompton are streaming the event live, with the debate due to begin at 6.30pm.

Watch the livestream here.

 

Live blog: 

03/12/2019, 21:40

And finally ...

Laura's final tweet from tonight's event; It's goodnight from her, and goodnight from him ... sorry, me.

03/12/2019, 20:55

Active Travel Hustings

So, what did we learn?

Not much, really; it's a good thing that we have a debate on active travel during an election campaign, but none of the parties' representatives moved on from what we already knew.

If you've been reading this, then clearly you care about what the various parties are pledging for cycling and walking.

But clearly, in what is widely seen as the most important general election in the UK since World War II, it's likely that there are bigger issues that may influence which way you vote - Brexit, the NHS and tackling violent crime foremost among them. There may also be specific issues local to you that sway your vote.

The one thing we can predict with any certainty about next week's poll - with all due respect to the Liberal Democrat and Green parties - is that it will be the Conservative and Labour parties that win most seats.

One or other may win a majority, but there is also a very strong likelihood of a hung parliament, resulting in a coalition government being formed; and whilst they weren't involved in tonight's debate (as mentioned below, Westminster funding for active travel only applies to England), the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the parties in Northern Ireland will have a say in the way that is formed.

There is clearly a huge gulf in ambition and political will between Labour and the Conservatives when it comes to funding active travel. The Green Party are of course onside, and the Lib Dems too are supportive - but will either have the clout as part of a coalition to push their agendas on the issue?

We may have more clarity a week on Friday; but if the last three and a half years of UK politics have taught us one thing, it's that it's wise not to hold your breath ...

 

03/12/2019, 20:42

London cyclists at Hyde Park Corner (copyright Britishcycling.org_.uk).jpg

Closing statements

Labour and the Green Party come out best on these.

For the latter, Russell cites an aim of 50 per cent of trips to be done by bike or on foot - something she says her party's Green Deal will facilitate.

Cadbury, meanwhile, highlights that by ending austerity, Labour would generate  a knock-on effect of bringing about a revolutionary change in local and short trips; if the Dutch could do it in the 1970s, she says, we can now.

Pidgeon, for the Lib Dems underlines the so-called Remain Bonus again and the benefits that would bring about for active travel as well as for investment in public transport and tackling air pollution.  

And Heaton-Harris, for the Conservatives, highlights Bikeability as a solution for encouraging more school-run trips by bicycle, and e-bikes as a solution for more active travel outside London. 

03/12/2019, 20:14

So, back to funding ...

Labour: Ruth Cadbury says it will use £4.7 billion from Vehicle Excise Duty over five years to help find its ambitious plans.

Conservatives: Chris Heaton-Harris admits spending has dropped from £7 per person per head to £1, though he says that he hopes for a higher spend.

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are banking on a ‘Remain Bonus’ while the Greens say they will rely on borrowing.

road.cc comment

The two parties that will win the most seats at the next election are poles apart on their proposed spending.

Whether Labour can afford £50 per head annually is open to question – but the £1 that the Conservatives are pledging is an absolute shocker, and a lot less than what Boris Johnson was spending as Mayor of London.

Andrew Gilligan, who was recruited by the former mayor to push through his cycling programme in London and is now his active travel advisor at Number Ten, is seen as someone who can “bash heads together” to get projects delivered – but on that budget, it’s difficult to see how anything can be done.

As an aside, being a cycling minister in a Conservative government seems to be a pretty thankless task … the last few holders of the post are cyclists, and seem to understand the issues – but it seems clear it is not a priority for the party.

03/12/2019, 19:52

Here are some of the questions people watching the YouTube livestream are asking

Dave Moore

Politicians have a habit of promising big and delivering half baked. How can we be sure that all these promises are not just fudge?

It's a good question; funding promises are always made at election time, but delivery doesn't always follow.​

Derek Young​

To improve road safety will any of the parties promise to increase the penalties for dangerous & inconsiderate driving? It must be more common for driving licences to be revoked. 

As many road.cc readers will know, we are still waiting for the result of the long-running review of sentencing in cases where the victim is a vulnerable road user; begun under David Cameron, two Prime Ministers later you could be forgiven for thinking it has been quietly shelved.​

The Brompton Fold​

New towns are a major issue in my area - the plans are approved without any consideration for cycling and there are no local facilities.

Laura covered this one for us recently - when funding for a safe cycling path alongside the B4044 near Oxford was dropped from a bit for funding for new homes and upgrades to the A40 because it was feared it might jeopardise the bid.

03/12/2019, 19:34

Earlier, Laura asked what questions you wanted raised this evening

Click through to her tweet to see what people are concerned about 

03/12/2019, 19:25

So that's the opening statements done

No surprises there,  we knew what was coming from the manifestoes and specific position statements on active travel.

Now we move onto the main items on the menu as they are quizzed on how they will deliver their pledges ... and unsurprisingly, the first thing the Chair wants to know is how they plan to pay for it. 

03/12/2019, 19:24

And last to make her opening statement is the Green Party's Caroline Russell

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Enforcement on road danger. Only fund high quality infrastructure. mentions a body like the old Cycling England (sighs in the audience), spending in cities as per Manchester. Ending dependence on fossil fuels</p>&mdash; road.cc (@roadcc) <a href="https://twitter.com/roadcc/status/1201940193315606529?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 3, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

03/12/2019, 19:23

Caroline Pidgeon sets out the Lib Dem position

03/12/2019, 19:08

The next opening statement is from the Tory minister for cycling

03/12/2019, 19:14

First to make an opening statement is Labour's Ruth Cadbury

Seeking re-election for Brentford & Isleworth, she has been co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group since 2015.

03/12/2019, 18:12

Cycling's equivalent of the guy who missed signing The Beatles ... ?

03/12/2019, 17:34

This is what hosts, Brompton, say about the event

"Brompton’s Active Travel Hustings will ensure that the General Election campaign includes a debate about increasing funding levels for walking and cycling across the country and we will be expecting all participants to set out future investment plans and targets.

"Participants will also be expected to discuss their parties’ wider proposals for how to get more people to lead more active, healthier lifestyles."

Big Ben © Simon MacMichael

03/12/2019, 17:07

What would you do?

 

03/12/2019, 16:13

So what are the parties' positions?

If you need to get up to speed with what the parties have pledged for active travel ahead of polling day, Laura's piece for the Guardian's Bike Blog at the weekend is the perfect place to start. 

03/12/2019, 16:11

Here's the lowdown on tonight's event

With just nine days to go until the General Election, Brompton Bicycle’s factory in Greenford, West London will this evening host an Active Travel Hustings which will see representatives of the four main parties in England quizzed on their policies on cycling and walking.

Chaired by BBC journalist Rachel Schofield – who, like her husband, Jeremy Vine is a keen cyclist – the debate will start at 6.30pm and will be live streamed. We’ll post a link to the feed once we have it.

Speaking on behalf of their parties will be:

Chris Heaton-Harris, Minister for Cycling and Walking, Conservatives

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Liberal Democrats

Caroline Russell AM, National Spokesperson for Transport, Green Party

A senior representative of the Labour Party, tbc​

(nb Active travel in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland lies within the remit of the devolved administrations there)

Among the audience will be people from the country’s cycling and walking sectors, senior figures from local government and members of the transport, cycling and environmental press.

We’ll be updating this blog ahead of the hustings and once it is underway.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.