I’m keen to understand how supportive of Active Travel the Holyrood candidates of Western Edinburgh really are…
So I dropped them a tweet inviting them to Pedal on Parliament
and got 3 acceptances (SNP, LibDem & Lab) – so far so good.
I followed it up with offers of a local cycle tour to see the issues – but no one rushed to take it up.
When the SNP’s budget came out in December, I was disappointed that spending on Active Travel is flat year-on-year and still less than 2% of the Transport Budget, when their own target/aspiration is for 10% of journeys.
Of particular concern within the budget was the slashing of the “Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes” fund from £8m to £5.9m (bottom of http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/12/9056/16). This is one of the places that local authorities go to get money to match Sustrans money from the Community Links programme, so the reduction could make things really tricky for councils to get local schemes built.
So back to twitter I went to my local SNP candidate Toni Giugliano (our standing SNP MSP has been deselected)
[SJR = St John’s Road, the most polluted street in Scotland]
To be fair, I asked the same question to my other candidates with these responses
Sadly we don’t know what Sandy Batho thinks as he’s not active on twitter.
Warm words but lacking in detail – not surprising given 140 character limit. Time will tell exactly what makes it into the party manifestos, but anyone wanting my vote will need to replace words with commitments.
Someone once told me the best way to find out the real beliefs of a politician is to tell them you don’t like all the money they are wasting on your chosen topic and then see if they just agree with you or take on your view. Maybe I’ll try that next time…
This then brings us on to a particular local scheme that could revolutionise cycling between West Edinburgh and the city centre (as I wrote about in my last blog) by running a protected cycle lane from Roseburn to Haymarket and then through the West End and onto George Street.
One of the signatories of a petition against the scheme running up the main road and instead favouring a convoluted back route was the local SNP councillor, who broadcasted him signing on twitter. So I asked him why he had signed it.
It is disappointing that a councillor (and member of the Capital Coalition) is openly criticising a scheme put forward by the council. I understand the desire to represent constituents and that the businesses on Roseburn Terrace may be fearful if change to the streetscape. However, the impacts on loading & parking will have been considered by the design team and as noted in my last blog there is evidence that less customers arrive by cars than estimated by shopkeepers and cycle lanes can improve shops’ turnover by making it a more inviting/easier place.
There will also be many constituents that favour the more direct route – to highlight this I set up a petition to show it.
In 2 weeks we are at 230 signatories, which I think shows that councillor is not representing all constituents with his position. He has at least said he will share the evidence provided to the shopkeepers.
I will be sharing this blog with him and more than happy to let him to explain his position without the 140 character limit.
Now, as noted above, Western Edinburgh’s SNP candidate is just that, a candidate, I can’t help think that whatever warm words he might say, his colleagues are making it hard for them to ring true as local improvements are being hindered by cutting funding and petitioning against the best route.
He has at least accepted my offer of a cycle tour.