A West London Conservative candidate at Thursday’s general election has been accused of hypocrisy over her opposition to Cycleway 9, which will run through the Brentford & Isleworth constituency she is standing in – with local cycling campaigners pointing out that the project was initiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.
Seena Shah is standing for election in Brentford & Isleworth constituency won for Labour in 2010 by Ruth Cadbury with a majority of just 465 votes.
Cadbury, since 2010 co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and who represented Labour at last week’s Active Travel Hustings at the Brompton Bicycle factory in nearby Greenford, was re-elected in 2017 with a majority of more than 12,000.
In a column last week for the Chiswick Herald, Shah accused Cadbury of being responsible for getting Cycleway 9, which will run from Olympia to Brentford, approved – even though the plans were drawn up by Transport for London (TfL) and the relevant local authorities, with the Labour-controlled Hounslow Council approving the section of the route running through the Brentford & Isleworth constituency.
The stretch running through Chiswick High Road has proved particularly contentious, led by Conservative councillors representing wards in the area, the most affluent in the borough, leading opposition to the scheme which was finally approved after revisions were put to a second consultation.
Shah wrote: “I believe that Brentford and Isleworth has regressed under a Labour MP, a Labour Mayor and Labour council.
“Under Ruth Cadbury, Chiswick has seen the Cycleway 9 cycle path approved along our busiest road, putting pedestrians at risk and jeopardising our already struggling retail economy by removing pavement space, as well as parking and loading bays.”
Initial construction will start at the north end of Kew Bridge this Thursday, polling day, and Shah also expressed concerns that works will go ahead at a time when Hammersmith Bridge remains closed, claiming that there would be a “consequential increase in traffic at residential and main roads throughout Chiswick.”
She added: “If elected, I pledge to call for an immediate delay and review of Cycleway 9 and ensure a temporary bridge is put up to replace Hammersmith Bridge, a project that would cost £5 million and only take three months to complete.”
Shah also pledged her continued support for the UK to leave the European Union, saying that “52 per cent of the United Kingdom voted to Leave. Whether you personally like it or not, that is a democratic majority and we are a democratic country. It is the job of any democratic government to deliver on the will of the people.”
The initial consultation to Cycleway 9 in the individual wards within the Borough of Hounslow, by comparison, had between 59 and 63 per cent of responses in favour and between 20 and 38 per cent opposed, by comparison.
Michael Robinson, co-ordinator at Hounslow Cycling Campaign, told road.cc: “It doesn’t look like Seena Shah gets the irony of complaining about Labour politicians for Cycleway 9 given the scheme was funded and planned when the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Mayor of London.
“Cycleway 9 is a good example of cross party consensus at the mayoral level as it was initiated by the previous Conservative Mayor and progressed by the current Labour Mayor,” he continued.
“The government’s Committee on Climate Change is clear that safe cycling infrastructure is an important part of the transition to a low carbon economy.
“It is very disappointing that Seena Shah is attempting to politicise a non-polluting mode of transport,” he added.
“We hope this is because she is being misinformed by local councillors rather than it reflecting her own views,” he added.
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.