Elections

Local elections (County), May 2008: Romsey

Summary: Elections to Cambridgeshire County Council in May 2008.
Polling date: Thursday 1st May 2008
Division: Romsey
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Kilian BOURKE  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Chris FREEMAN  (Labour Party)
  • Keith Alexander GARRETT  (Green Party)
  • Mike MORLEY  (Conservative Party)
  • Andrew OSBORNE  (Left List)

Questions for Romsey division candidates (6 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6 

# Question 1

Cycling offers a huge opportunity to reduce motor traffic and free up road space. Do you have any suggestions for additional cycling promotion activities that the Council could do?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

Better cycle-parking facilities on the Romsey end of Mill Road. Despite not being particularly cycle-friendly, this part of town is heavily used by cyclists, yet apart from a few primitive parking rails outside the Co-Op there is almost no provision for us. I have recently spoken to Sergeant Cross of Cambridgeshire Constabulary on the subject and he will be pushing for more bike parking facilities to be introduced on this side of the railway bridge on Mill Road and appropriate residential areas. And not just the standard rails: he would like there to be the full range of locking devices available.

Cycle Officers should be encouraged to do as much promotion in schools as possible, in conjunction with environmental / climate change projects as well as independently. (Every year I voluntarily give large groups of primary school children rickshaw rides at primary schools in the area during 'international transport week' and on 'parents day'; most recently St. Philip's.) This introduces children to Cambridge's cycling culture early; moreover, it will help to address the ugly congestion problems we see during term-time, when Trumpington Road, to cite one example, resembles a car showroom as you approach the independent schools -- lots of shiny new Mercs and four by fours not going anywhere in a hurry!

One of the best things the Council has done in recent years has been 1/ to cordon off the city centre from motorised vehicles during the day time, and 2/ making it a "pedestrian zone", so that cyclists are allowed to use these streets, while being pointedly asked to be respectful of pedestrians. This experiment has emphatically worked; we need more bold experimentation of this sort.

The Council should encourage both its Cycling and Transport officers - and residents! - to think of innovative cycling schemes which could be introduced to different parts of the city, and then make applications to Central Government for funding. Unfortunately the County Council in particular is desperately strapped for cash, but the government is willing to invest in innovative and green transport solutions, so let's come up with as many as possible...

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

1. Ensure adequate support for the Cycling Campaign which has good grass roots links.
2. The City Council already employs cycling officers - their objectives and achievements should be more widely publicised. Perhaps they should consult on and develop local strategies which could be monitored through area committee meetings. They should, at the very least, use area committees to raise issues, listen to concerns and respond to local problems.
3. Improve and increase cycle parking facilities.
4. Improve road surfaces - cycling through many city streets is like going over a ploughed field!
5. Clarify rights of way etc especially in city centre and ensure that cycle paths are clearly marked and safe. (What is the purpose of that extraordinary bit of path outside Mandela House on Regent Street which just stops?! ) There feels like a growing de-regulation of cycle/ car/ pedestrian use and a lack of clear signage which is creating something of a free-for-all. People don't quite know what they should be doing and this causes confusion, irritation and many minor spills.
Road crossings, like the one outside the Gonville Hotel, are very difficult to use safely.

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

Overall the city should be made more cycling friendly in order to promote cycling. There should be a significant increase in places to store bikes. This is especially true at Cambridge station where there should be more spaces with lighting and CCTV. There should be consideration of making much of Cambridge a low speed zone to increase cycling and walking. All transport planning should consider cyclists, pedestrians and public transport over cars. Sections of the city like Mill Road should be considered for one way or access only measures as the current situation is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

In conjunction with the City council, the County Council must identify areas where cycling provision isn't good enough: on- and off-road routes in states of disrepair discourage cycling for many.

Providing and promoting courses in cycling proficency would make cycling safer for children and adults alike and, in addition, bike-based activity schemes for children should be an important feature of after-school and holiday community programmes.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

# Question 2

Do you support our view that traffic policing (including fining of cyclists without lights or using pedestrian-only pavements) should become a greater police priority?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

I do, but I also understand that Cambridge's police force is one of the most understaffed and under-resourced in the country. If we could get another 30 or so PCSO's (community police officers) it would be more feasible to have a number of these permanently monitoring cycling standards, but under the current circumstances it is unfortunately not realistic to expect them to do so. They are not even adequately equipped to properly deal with speeding motorists which for me another pressing a concern in Romsey. But until they are less understaffed a few more blitzes like we saw last November would work well; people who are caught without lights and penalised tend not to make the same mistake again.

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

Area committees are now including regular agenda items on local policing priorities - this is the place for such decisions to be considered. Some people are very upset by reckless cycling, eg on pavements, but residents may feel generally that existing police and PCSO resources should be used for other local enforcement issues. Local blitzes on eg lights can be very effective. balanced by enforcement

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

Yes. Cyclists breaking the rules generate bad feeling towards the majority of legal cyclists and can cause dangerous accidents. More positive measures might be considered like selling lights to cyclists in place of a fine or ensuring they attend a cycling skills course, paid for with the fine.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

Of course; law enforcement is not, however, merely a police 'priority' - it is instead a vital and important role.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

# Question 3

We are seeking a trial of a new type of cycle provision in the city - 'hybrid cycle lanes', as used in Holland and Germany. These are 2-3m wide, on-road but with a degree of separation from other vehicles. They combine the best aspects of both off-road and on-road cycle lanes but without the downsides of both. The picture on our website illustrates the concept. What do you feel about this idea, and is there anywhere in your ward where you think these could be tried?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

It is a great idea which I would encourage where it is feasible. Ultimately what I would like to see is Cambridge's transport infrastructure gradually becoming 'more Dutch', with an extensive network of spacious, protected cycle lanes leading in to the city centre from all directions, and this is clearly a step in the right direction. This sounds like fantasy, but the amount of funding congestion charging would generate would make huge improvements possible (see below). The obvious difficulty is the narrowness of the existing roads. In Romsey, Mill Road is already dangerously narrow in places, particularly after the 'pinch' near The Royal Standard, so one often finds oneself cycling in the gutter by the kerb - a very uncomfortable place to be when articulated lorries are hurtling past you and the roads are wet. Brooks Road and Coldham's Lane could both work. But thinking of solutions for Mill Road has to be a priority.

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

I am very keen on measures which clarify and improve the segregation of road users. Local consultation should identify places where different concepts could be piloted.

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

Where there is enough space and constant car flow has to be allowed they appear an excellent solution. I think they could be tried on Brooks Road and Coldham's Lane.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

Any improvement in safety for cyclists is certainly something to be strived for, but it should not be at the expense of other road users.

Mill Road, for example, is notoriously dangerous and requires greater cycling provision; there is scope for improving the area and hybrid cycle lanes may even be a possibility.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

# Question 4

If the County Council's proposed Congestion Charge goes ahead, it is likely that the free, up-front money that would be received from the government to support prior improvements to public transport and cycling would be of the order of some £100m a year for four years. This is roughly ten times the amount the County currently receives for transport. If the scheme goes ahead, what would be your priorities for use of this up-front money?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

Firstly, the money has to be spent in the areas that are primarily affected - Cambridge City and the immediately surrounding roads, not on a new road near Ely. Secondly, every penny of this money (AND the money that the congestion charge generates thereafter, in perpetuity) should be spent on improvements which can be classified as 'sustainable'. To my mind these include, in no particular order: a/ more bus routes from the surrounding area running more often and on environmentally friendly engines like the green buses which do a small loop in the middle of town, b/ better dedicated cycling facilities, and c/ taking into consideration those who choose to walk. The sheer amount of funding and revenue the scheme will generate means that, if it happens, this will be Cambridge's big opportunity to make really radical and lasting improvements in the way we travel about our city. The current proposals are seriously flawed, but if the Conservatives decide to go ahead with the Tif bid they will have to a/ conduct a formal consultation (giving the public the opportunity to criticise them and make suggestions) and b/ consult the City Council. It would be undemocratic to force their plans upon those of us most affected by the proposals without formally taking our views into consideration, which means listening to us and to our Councils.

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

This question raises a great many issues when we don't evenhave a congestion charging proposal which satisfies local needs yet. This needs a more coherent, holistic planning approach to establish priorities.

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

My priorities would be for increased safe cycle parking and alteration of the road network to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists. Complete routes across town could be finished so that there are safe, low traffic alternatives to all the long car journeys within Cambridge.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

Improving existing cycle lanes and covering gaps in provision are two important priorities. Beyond that, security of bikes - including new and better locations to lock up - should be considered carefully as many areas in Cambridge lack the proper facilities.

In addition, promoting ('advertising') cycling and providing safety training would encourage the up-take of cycling.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

# Question 5

Some 47,500 new dwellings are to be built around Cambridge in the next ten years, increasing the population by perhaps 125,000 people. Although a Congestion Charge with half-a-billion pounds of up-front government money is proposed as a key means to deal with this, what would your suggestions be for reducing car usage and encouraging cycling in the new developments?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

Every new development should incorporate cycling facilities into their plans from the outset; we can check that this is the case by examining and responding to the plans when they are opened for consultation. There need to be dedicated cycle-racks of a high standard throughout, marked cycle lanes leading out of the developments and onto the main routes in to town, and conveniently placed, safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists alike. New bus routes will need to be introduced; special care should be taken to ensure that these can run on time during busy periods - this may mean avoiding the very middle of the city-centre - otherwise people who depend on them to get to work will consider driving. Car sharing should be strongly encouraged; providing a few spaces for a Car Club might not be a bad idea either. (I have spoken to people organising the new Club on Great Eastern Street; it is working well, and drivers find they cut their mileage by over 70 percent).

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

See above

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

New housing developments should be created on a minimal car use basis. There should be spaces for car share schemes and people who require cars for mobility. Secure cycle stands should be provided in large numbers close to all the homes. A low speed limit should be set on all roads within a development. Regular public transport with long running hours should be provided.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

Making cycling provision a priority - as opposed to merely 'fitting it in' - should be a key design aspect in new developments. The promotion of cycling as an approriate means of transport and improving safety for less confident cyclists.

With such an influx of new residents, it is important to consider cycling from the outset to ensure that traffic congestion is not unduly increased.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

# Question 6

Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points?

Kilian BOURKE
(Liberal Democrat)

In Summer and Autumn I run Greenwheels Pedicab Tours, which provides environmentally friendly guided rickshaw tours and short trips around the city and the backs of the colleges. This means that I am very aware of the cycling situation in town. I also work as an electric-bike traffic reporter for Star Radio, which means that I understand the traffic-cycling interface in Cambridge and the surrounding roads. If I am elected this knowledge would serve me well when working on transport problems.

Chris FREEMAN
(Labour Party)

See Q 1

Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Green Party)

There needs to be a complete rethink about how the city functions. Not only will fuel prices continue to increase but we have been living in a city overrun by cars for too long. The car is not an efficient way to move around the large number of people we need to move around in Cambridge.

Mike MORLEY
(Conservative Party)

Asking the Government to remove rigid Whitehall rules on the number of new cycle lanes would free us to spend money where and when it is needed, allowing us to improve safety training in school for example.

Andrew OSBORNE
(Left List)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.

Camcycle is a non-partisan body. All candidates are given an equal opportunity to submit their views. Information published by Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), The Bike Depot, 140 Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DL.