Elections

2015 General Election: Cambridge City: Cambridge

Summary: 2015 General Election for the Cambridge constituency
Polling date: Thursday 7th May 2015
Constituency: Cambridge
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Chamali FERNANDO  (Conservative Party)
  • Keith Alexander GARRETT  (Removing the politicians)
  • Julian Leon HUPPERT  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Patrick O'FLYNN  (UK Independence Party)
  • Rupert READ  (Green Party)
  • Daniel ZEICHNER  (Labour Party)

Questions for Cambridge constituency candidates (8 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

# Question 1

Cambridge Cycling Campaign has created a guide to cycling best-practice called Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you fully support this guide, and if so, what one principle in it do you think could most effectively be applied in your ward?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

Rebooting Democracy is about removing the politicians from the equation. The country would decide where it wants to go and we would use citizen panels creating evidence based policy to put this in place. This removes the local parade of candidates vying for votes giving away promises for things they seem popular rather than what is best.

In this case there would need to be an overall plan for transport for the country. The panels would talk to experts in all fields, representatives from different types of communities. It would need to take into account strategies that the country has decided open (like, do we want to go carbon neutral?). The overall plan would be put in place by national and local government (which is what they are there for, not trying to get re-elected all the time).

Without this overall direction we will continue to have 650 MPs all trying to fight their corner in an arena that stifles debate and sticks to party ideologies rather than evidence.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

I do fully support this guide, and indeed am quoted in it as saying ‘There are huge benefits to individuals and to society if we promote cycling and walking. It has health benefits, reduces congestion, and makes streets more human. This excellent guide shows us how to do it’ – I still agree completely!

It is hard to pick out just one principle that applies; for cycling to be more successful, and for our city to be a better place for people to be, we need to implement all of it. That’s why the Get Britain Cycling inquiry, which I led as co-chair of the All-Party Cycling Group, produced 18 recommendations, all of which are needed. You can read that full document at https://allpartycycling.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/get-britain-cycling1.pdf

If I hard to pick up one overarching principle from Making Space for Cycling, I would pick the first one – making sure there is proper space. I’m really pleased we are implementing Dutch/Danish style segregated cycle facilities here in Cambridge, and hope we will see more of those. On major routes, keeping bikes separate from both pedestrians and motor vehicles has to be the right way forwards.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Yes, I fully endorse Making Space for Cycling: [see http://cambridge.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/localparties/cambridge/Transport_Greenprint.pdf ]. It says exactly the right thing about infrastructure - namely that protected space, separate from both motor vehicles and pedestrians, is needed, if we are to see a mass cycling culture emerge in the U.K.

The fact that such a guide has only come about because of the efforts of a voluntary group like Cambridge Cycling Campaign speaks volumes about the national government's lack of interest in cycling.

Proper design guidance is needed so that Local Authorities build high-quality infrastructure, involving reallocation of roadspace from motor vehicles. Current guidance is simply not fit for purpose at all. New engineering guidance should effectively copy existing Dutch guidance, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Design standards are one of the two key things that national government needs to get in place urgently - the other being consistent funding.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

I fully support the Making Space For Cycling campaign, and am determined to lead an ambitious effort to expand the use of cycling both here in Cambridge and across the UK.

In a city as old as Cambridge it is more clear than most that our planning laws need updating. I strongly support the Design Principles in the campaign, and am delighted that a Labour Government will finally make the changes needed by ensuring cyclists are consulted during the design stage of all major infrastructure projects. As our city continues to grow, this will have an enormous impact on the provision, safety and use of cycling across the city.

# Question 2

What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have any different concerns about younger or older family members cycling than you do yourself?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

I won't reply directly to the question here.

While I'm trying to remove the politicians from this equation (what purpose do they serve when we can put in a system where things just get done according to our wishes rather than relying on politicians) if you are trying to choose one then you should choose the best one for the job as if it was an interview (see online for candidates CVs).

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

I grew up in Cambridge and I and my family are all regular cyclists. It is simply the best and most reliable way to get around the city! Although I do own a car, I don’t often use it, because it massively increases the risks of being late to events.

There is no doubt that cycling can be more challenging for people who are older and younger, and I very much recognise the fear many people have of cycling when they are older or for their children. Part of the solution to this is to ensure that we have safe routes to cycle that are away from main roads, whether through segregation or by having off-road cycle routes such as the Chisholm Trail.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

I took up cycling in a serious way while living in the countryside in the USA: I often didn't have a car, and had to cycle 12 miles to get to 'civilisation'. I commute to work by bike, and cycle for leisure too.

I believe that cycling is something that can be done by people of pretty much all ages and abilities. The reason this is not currently the case is largely down to infrastructure.
I think 'all ability cycling' is hugely exciting and am so pleased and moved that it is happening in Cambridge.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

I am a keen cyclist and was thrilled to see the Tour de France visit our city last summer.
Although I have no children of my own, many parents I know are always worried about the safety of their kids when they cycle either to town or to school. I think it is vital that we train our young people with advice on safety, the dangers that cyclists often face and how to best deal with difficult situations that too often result in serious injury on the roads. The Bikeability scheme is terrific but I think it needs to be nationally supported by more government investment.

That is why I will support a Labour Government in bringing in new laws to ensure cycling skills are taught in primary and secondary schools, with extra measures to teach safety and precautionary skills to pupils as early as possible. I would like cycling to be regarded as the normal, first choice of transport and would like people not only to be cycling when of school age but to become life long cyclists.

# Question 3

What would you do to improve the number of children cycling to school nationally?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

The country needs to decide that this is the way we want to go and then we use citizens panels to put this in place talking to parents, experts in traffic and cycling, town planning etc.

Asking one person how to solve the problem is asking for sound bites for a complex issue that should be solved as a group using the collective intelligence of a nation.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

There are many things that can be done to change the very low rates of children cycling to school in most areas. Firstly, I would like to see bikability training expanding to cover all schools and all pupils. This would encourage more children to cycle, and to do so safely and legally, and would also mean that if they become drivers they are far more aware of what a cyclist’s perspective would be.

Secondly, we need to normalise cycling far more, so it becomes something that just happens, and that parents don’t see any reason not to encourage their children to cycle. This is part of a feedback loop – the more normal cycling is seen to be, the more people will cycle, and the more normal it will become.

Thirdly, we need to have good quality infrastructure, so that there are routes to schools that are safe and are felt to be safe. 20 mph speed limits are very helpful in this regard.

Lastly, we need to get schools to welcome cycling, by providing secure cycle parking, and other facilities, such as basic tools for repair.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Improving infrastructure has to be the priority, as outlined above.

The other two key priorities would be to ensure lower speed limits are in place near all schools, and to consider a 200m dropping-off ban around schools.

It is important that funding for the very important Bikeability cycle training scheme is continued. Whilst this is not a replacement for the provision of infrastructure, it is an important coping strategy given the current state of the country's roads, and ensures that the current generation of schoolchildren will continue to acquire a culture of cycling. Arguably also, children who cycle from an early age go on to become safer drivers if they drive later in life.

Finally, I must stress that we have to look at transport in the round, if we are to improve cycling-to-school rates. One of my rivals at this election may have a good record on cycling, but that isn't enough: if one is also prioritising road-building and road-expansion etc., and locking in car-dependence, one is undermining one's cycling ambitions at the same time - giving with one hand, taking away with the other. Only the Green Party has a serious joined-up offer for transport in greater Cambridge: http://cambridge.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/localparties/cambridge/Transport_Greenprint.pdf

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

The first thing I would do is improve safety, reassuring worried parents and teachers that cycling can be both healthy and safe for their children. I would do this by bringing back a national target to reduce death and serious injury on the roads, ensure Labour proposals to enhance safety measures on HGVs are enforced, bringing cyclists into infrastructure planning, and by teaching children at school the skills they need to minimise risk to life and safety.

A holistic approach through education, consultation on infrastructure and improvements to safety are needed to give children the confidence they need to get on the road. A commitment by central government to year on year investment in infrastructure that includes comprehensive networks of segregated cycle routes with eradication of dangerous junctions is required.

# Question 4

Do you support the Prime Minister's statement that cycle provision should be designed in to all new road schemes from the beginning? How would you support this?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

What is the overall plan for the country? Is this part of it? How much joined up thinking has gone into this? Is he just trying to win votes from cyclists who are happy to grasp at any crumbs they can get? This statement is meaningless without a solid commitment to actually do it. Between that statement and a contractor putting down stones onto a road how has the vague goal of 'should' been adhered to?

Plan our future. Don't play with it.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

Emphatically yes, and it was based on one of our Get Britain Cycling recommendations, that all new development schemes, road or otherwise, should have a statutory requirement for cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs to be considered at an early stage.
Far too often, facilities for pedestrians and bikes are late add-ons to schemes, resulting in poor quality provision, if any. Many road schemes are extremely expensive, but it is often not that expensive to change them to be more friendly to non motor vehicles at the start, whether by providing parallel routes, facilitating well-designed crossings, or making use of disused space. For example, the old A14 route going through Huntingdon could easily be used for cycle access when it is declassified – the road will then be far wider than the usage would require, and the cost would be comparatively small.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Yes, but the current government's actual implementation of this policy has been practically non-existent so far.

In my view it should also be expanded to cover all new housing estates. Looking at Northstyowe: currently-planned cycling-provision is woefully-inadequate.

If the A14 goes ahead (Greens believe this hugely expensive scheme will not solve the problems on that corridor), then it is essential that proper 4m-wide cycle provision is provided along its whole length, including proper crossing points. Bridges for cyclists and people on foot should also be provided, restoring previously-severed connections.

Greens want to up cycling funding nationwide to £30 per head: see http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/green-party-pledges-to-spend-30-per-head-per-year-on-cycling-168633 - this would mean we could actually fund what under the LibDem-Con Govt has been little more than aspiration.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

I absolutely support this, although I have been very disappointed at the PMs lack of progress on this issue. That is why I am so glad the new Labour-run City Council have partnered the “20s Plenty” campaign to slow down the speed of inner-city traffic in areas of particular vulnerability for cyclists. As your MP for Cambridge, I will strengthen these partnerships to ensure we extend cycling safety networks across as much of the city as possible.

# Question 5

The Netherlands spends over £20 head on cycling annually. Should we try to match this, or should we be spending much more to catch up?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

Again this is approached from the wrong direction. Trying to allocate a sum now is incorrect. It's a symptom of a system where people have to fight for budgets rather than deciding on priorities and then getting on with them.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

We should aim for that figure on a sustained basis, and the Get Britain Cycling Report, which has been endorsed by my party and features in our manifesto, says we should ‘Create a cycling budget of at least £10 per person per year, increasing to £20’. I see no reason why that level of funding couldn’t be relatively easily found from within the existing Department for Transport budget, by simply reprioritising away from large road schemes. I lead the fight in Parliament that successfully secured in law a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which has increased the profile of walking and cycling in the department, and should facilitate this increased expenditure.

I had been hoping that Labour and the Tories would join us in this commitment to increase spending on cycling, as both of them have MPs heavily involved in the All-Party Group, but they have both decided not to do so. Nonetheless, it is something I would continue to press for whatever the makeup of the next Government.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Our policy is £30/head (see above) - the UK has a long way to catch up.

However, it is essential that this is matched with design standards. The current government's policy of devolving cycle design standards to local authorities under the guise of Eric Pickles -style localism, has been a failure, resulting in some of the current spending being misused. Of course, there needs to be some local flexibility to go further where Local Authorities wish to be more ambitious, but design standards should start from a high baseline.

The Conservatives' scrapping of Cycling England was a massive backwards step in ensuring that such money is well-spent. It acted as an excellent safeguard in monitoring schemes and helping develop skills amongst Local Authority practitioners.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

Clearly we have a long way to go when it comes to funding for cyclists, and I think we should ultimately aim to match those with the best record on cycling.

I have been extremely disappointed over the last 5 years at the failure of the Lib Dems and Tories to push any serious cycling measures through Parliament. Indeed, it was only in the very last budget that new funding proposals for cyclists were announced - albeit for just 8 cities in the UK.

I think we need to spend a great deal more, which is why Labour has earmarked an extra £250million to be used by a new cross-departmental Cycling and Pedestrians Advisory Board. This will ensure that all new government projects have cycling provision from their very beginning. It will be great to have this sum invested in cycling and pedestrians but I will argue for this sum to be invested every year to enable long term planning in cycle infrastructure to encourage more people to take up cycling.

I want to ensure Cambridge is one of the most well funded cycling cities in the country, so I will continue to push for more funding and more investment until we reach that goal.

# Question 6

HGVs pose a disproportionate risk to people on bikes due to size and restricted visibility. What would you do to reduce the danger posed by these vehicles?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

This needs to be part of the overall plan that is decided and then executed. Do I have ideas about how to reduce HGV use in towns and deaths from HGVs? Of course I do. Have I studied the problem and am expert in these matters? No.

Let's get the right people looking at the problems.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

HGVs do cause very substantial problems, and have been responsible for a high proportion of deaths and serious injuries to people on bikes. The first thing to do is to reduce the number of occasions on which bikes and HGVs will come into conflict with each other, by having better infrastructure. Secondly, we need to limit use of HGVs on the busiest urban streets at the busiest times, so that the potential for conflict is even lower.

We also need to substantially improve the design of HGVs, so that there is better visibility for the drivers. I have worked with a number of construction companies, some of whom take this very seriously, but it should become a legislative requirement; I co-sponsored a Bill in Parliament to achieve this. In the longer term, the proposed new EU rules for better cab design will help as well, by ensuring that there is far greater visibility designed into the vehicle.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

I think it is absolutely inexcusible that the government continues to permit vehicles that cannot be driven safely onto our roads, in terms of inability to see the area surrounding the vehicle.

HGV drivers have a difficult job, and we should make their lives easier - and moreover save the lives of cyclists and pedestrians - by implementing the kinds of additional safeguards, physical measures, and training schemes, that TfL have introduced recently. We would also push strongly for vehicle redesigns that London Cycling Campaign have recently been showcasing. Also, every lorry driver and bus driver should be required to undertake a Bikeability course as part of their training.

Ultimately, the Green Party wants a reduction in the number of HGVs by shifting more freight onto the railways, the introduction of goods transfer points on the eges of cities, and a much stronger emphasis on local production so that the need to transport things half-way across the country unnecessarily is reduced. In relation to Cambridge: our planned congestion-charge would certainly reduce the number of HGVs driving into and through Cambridge.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

Currently, 20% of accidents with cyclists involve an HGV, despite accounting for only 7% of road users. A Labour Government will therefore make it law for all HGVs to be fitted with audible warning systems, flashing light beacons, side guards and additional rear view mirrors to ensure both the driver and the cyclist are made aware of one another before an accident occurs. Knowing the dangers of narrow streets like those in Cambridge, I will also support a Labour Government in strengthening the penalties for dangerous driving, ensuring that we clamp down on those who endanger active travel road users, including by examining if there are areas where HGVs don’t need to travel.

# Question 7

National Cycle City Ambition funding has been focused on only a few areas nationwide. Do you think that it is better to focus funding on a few places as examples of what can be achieved, or do you think funding should be spread more evenly across the country?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

Sorry to sound like a broken record but figure out what you are doing as a country and then implement it. If you need to have a test city (given that you have so many excellent examples overseas...) then that should be part of your plan.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

Cambridge has been very successful in getting Cycle City Ambition Funding – partly because I managed to get it onto the list of places eligible to bid, which rather surprisingly it was not originally going to be on. We have been awarded just over £10 million across the City and South Cambs. We should use this money to showcase what can be achieved from investment in cycling, and we are pioneering a number of new techniques (well, new to this country).

This sort of flagship funding needs to be in addition to routine levels of funding for cycling across the country; it’s not a case of doing one or the other. It is important to have some prominent examples, partly so that the skills learned can be taught to others, and other places considering particular proposals can come and see them in action.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Reallocation of £30/head from the roads budget to cycling budgets should be done nationally. Naturally, I would push for leading places like Cambridge to have more, but it is only through sustained and consistent funding nationally that the country has any chance of seeing a widespread cycling culture re-emerging.

I do not accept that spreading funding thinly in some places is acceptable - this means that people who live in backward Local Authorities whose Councillors or officials have no interest in cycling, are denied the choice given to those in better areas.

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

I think the new city-centred fund has some advantages: like having the funds to develop the Chisholm Trail with the new cycle bridge over the Cam and the segregated cycle routes currently under construction. But we should be doing far more. Cambridge is set to receive just a mere 5.2% of the government's new cycling investment package, as one of only 8 cities in the country set to benefit.

As one of our national bike capitals, I think Cambridge deserves better than this and I will fight for a better deal for our city.

Having said that, it would clearly be counter-productive to only invest in those areas where cycling is already most popular. We must do more at school, more with employers, more in road planning and more in terms of safety to ensure we spread funding across a greater swathe of our country to encourage both a healthier lifestyle and a cleaner (and less congested!) environment.

# Question 8

One of the major benefits of people cycling is decreased costs to healthcare budgets. Do you think money for building cycle routes should also come from health budgets ?

Chamali FERNANDO
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Keith Alexander GARRETT
(Removing the politicians)

No. It should be planned and then done. Not bartered.

Julian Leon HUPPERT
(Liberal Democrat)

There is absolutely no doubt that we need to have a joined up vision for cycling and walking across different departments, and the Department for Health is potentially a huge beneficiary from increased active transport – one study suggested savings of around £17 billion if we were at Dutch levels of cycling, due to reduced physical and mental health problems.

For that reason, I want to see a cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, and a national Cycling Champion from outside the DfT, to make sure that this is all linked up. We need to break down the silos that mean that money is seen as belonging to one department or another, which too often means that policies are designed ignoring their effects in other areas of government.

Patrick O'FLYNN
(UK Independence Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Rupert READ
(Green Party)

Potentially, yes. However, if there is a proper transport budget this should theoretically not be needed. (I am our Party's national transport spokesman, and this would be my policy-brief in Parliament if I get elected next week. I would be pressing for a proper transport budget - and for massive savings in other areas, through scrapping the national road-building programme (though not the road-maintenance programme, which is vital for cyclists) and scrapping the vanity-project HS2.)

I understand that at least one NHS area has been part-funding 20mph zones and this is to be welcomed while transport funding is so poor.

Greens believe that healthcare costs are high partially because of the unhealthy environment we live in. By providing proper facilities that will give many more people the choice to cycle, opportunities for daily exercise as part of daily life will be much greater. (In this area, I have been guided for many years by the expertise of my friend and colleague Mayer Hillman, the pioneer of showing the massive health-benefits that accrue from cycling.)

Daniel ZEICHNER
(Labour Party)

This ties into a major theme for people across the UK. With an NHS in crisis, an aging population and a general population largely less healthy than it has been for some time, it is more important than ever to promote active travel as a means to a healthier end. A Labour Government will build on the great regional achievements of the Welsh Government's Active Travel Act to ensure we spend more time and money on healthier lifestyles, to pre-empt many of the problems we suffer in later life.

As you know, after five years of the Tories and Lib Dems the NHS is now in crisis. With a huge financial shortfall anticipated by the NHS for simply sustaining its current level of service, I don't think now is the time to draw down on its vulnerable budget to invest in areas outside of its existing parameters, but I do accept that Active Travel should form a vital part of our strategy to pre-empt ill health (and great cost) at the earliest possible opportunity.

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.