Northern TARmac

I attended the Transport Activists Roundtable (TAR) meeting on 25/4 in York. The TAR has reps from right across the North, and as an example of how it can have an impact was the session with Bridget Fox, FoE’s Air Quality expert, at the previous meeting, my report on which led to Sheffield Greens setting up on the Let Sheffield Breathe campaign. This meeting wasn’t quite so impactful, but still a lot was discussed, so here’s my report.

Expected outcome of the General Election on 8th June:

http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/homepage.html (and if you want to have a look at what is forecast to happen to individual MPs in your area look here http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/regions.html).Having said that there are some innovative tactical voting initiatives coming out of the woodwork so all is not lost just yet.

Mayoral Elections:-

Teesside – making a big deal out of buying Teesside airport which has 8 flights a day so not much revenue there! (It loses £200k a month)

Manchester – Andy. Burnham. Hasn’t said much about rail, does plan to put in more wilmslow rd type schemes.

Liverpool – removing bus lanes has been disastrous for buses (& cyclists) new mayor might put them back.

Air Quality.( AQ.)

Govt still trying to weasel out of the commitment to produce an Air Quality Plan. What rabbit will they pull out of the hat? Clean Air Zones?

Sheffield an example of what local activists can do while waiting for the govt. – mount a campaign, get your LA to join in the action against the govt. The private transport companies need to do more as well.

Leeds has £234m to spend on transport. Proposals are Better Buses – type schemes, and three stations that are not WY priorities. There’s an aspiration to reduce traffic in Leeds city centre but no concrete proposals to do this. However, these proposals have been nodded through. LA is concerned about Air Quality but doesn’t have a strategy. First Leeds are getting new buses partly funded by LA money but no requirement for these to be electric or hybrid.

The TAR will reconnect with FoE, Client Earth and CBT to liaise on this and review the situation in July.

Diesel Scrappage scheme may occur. Local Transport Today has reservations

Transport for the North  (TFN)

TFN Board is heavily loaded with govt appointees incl SoS for Transport . So much for devolution. There is no public access to Board meetings.

Consultations took place in January and some feedback has been reported.

It’s all turning into a bit of a stitch-up. The agenda is all about driving economic growth and not about sustainable travel. (They say they are focusing on connectivity between cities, not travel within the urban zones)

Needs an independent commission on decarbonising travel in the North. We make both electric buses and trains in the North – where is the procurement strategy? Strong feelings were expressed on this issue.

Trans-Pennine Tunnel – price tag of £10bn has been put on it but this doesn’t include associated road links, probably another £5bn. This isn’t a priority for the government -hence new “improvement” proposals for the A628 are coming through – dualling, climbing lanes.

The Sheffield City Region vision for transport was described as “absolutely terrifying”.

TAR members will have words post-election.

Bradford: Multi-modal study showed that CBA for Colne-Skipton-Keighley rail link was the same as Road (extending M65).

Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. (CWIS)

Although we had been waiting for this for a long time the timing was unexpected – something to do with the election perhaps?

TAR members hadn’t had time to digest the CWIS in full but it was seen as a faint ray of sunshine in an otherwise grim and dismal landscape. The first tranche of money coming from it is an invitation for organisations to bid for business funding.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-competition-innovation-in-cycling-and-walking

This isn’t going to provide much infrastructure which is what is really needed. It looks as though LA’s are being cut out as well (there may be ways around this) Anyway, it’s the only game in town as far as Cycling and Walking go, so activists are urged to prod their local Authorities

Meeting ended early so I made it back to Sheffield in time for Yoga!