Although there seems to be a lot of interest with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) regional elections and Corby, there is also an uberlocal being played out in the suburbs of Wolverhampton.
The Park Ward by-election is on Thursday 15th November.

Roger Gray (Liberal Democrat)
Jenny Brewer (Conservative)
Craig Collingswood (Labour)
David Mackintosh (UKIP)

Publicity Officer for Wolves on Wheels and Resident of Park Ward SY asked all four prospective candidates in the by-election three questions.

  1. When is the last time you rode a bicycle?
  2. What do you think of the proposed city centre plan to reduce cycle-able routes in central Wolverhampton?
  3. How would you increase cycling in Park Ward?

Here are their responses :

All of the prospective councillors were made aware of the questions via 1st class letter (with a Team GB special edition Olympics track-racing stamp) to the address listed on Wolverhampton Council Website and via e-mail.

Roger Gray (Liberal Democrat)

Although Roger hasn't rode a bicycle for a while, neither is he a car user. Using public transport and walking gives Roger an enlightened perspective on the different transport choices, and has reviewed previous constructive bicycle policies by Wolverhampton City Council.

Roger wrote "I am inclined to think that pedestrians and cyclists should be able to mix better than motorised traffic and cyclists in certain circumstances. There may be a case for allowing responsible cyclists who are not undertaking a longish journey to use pavements."

Roger thinks that "This City needs to have a policy of continuously encouraging cycling by introducing better amenities wherever possible and publicising their existence".

He also acknowledged that a change of culture will be required, "As a pedestrian I regularly observe some very irresponsible cyclists both on the roads and pavements".

Couldn't agree more Roger, more training required to help people be safe on the roads needed!


Jenny Brewer (Conservative)

Image Submitted Park Ward 2012 by-election

Jenny wrote "I don't cycle in anything other than organised events because I don't feel safe in traffic". A pro-helmet, light and reflector advocate, she also sent us a picture riding her bike (on right).

Jenny would like increased visibility of cycle routes. "There is currently very little provision for cycling and bicycle parking within our city centre, I would like to see the introduction of tarmac marked cycle routes into the city centre proper with secure bicycle parking points".

She added that "In particular there is a lack of dedicated access particularly in the new road system proposals for access to public transport i.e. Wolverhampton Train Station".

The road around West Park is clearly one of her priorities, she would like to see "A clearly marked cycle lane introduced around West Park (anti-clockwise SY) to raise awareness of the possibility of an oncoming bicycle" in regards to end-on parking.

Sustrans National Cycle Network Route NCN81 from Smethwick Junction to Aberystwyth runs through proposed 1 way route, also West Park.


Craig Collingswood (Labour)

Craig last rode his bike a few days ago, regular usage for shops, along with his children ride for fun.

He doesn't proclaim to be a cycling expert, however said that he was "surprised if there was a plan to reduce cycle routes in the centre of the city". He is "contacting my colleague Cllr Peter Bilson, who is responsible for city centre regeneration, and seek clarification about this".

He added "Due to successes in the Tour de France & Olympics, not to mention fuel prices etc, the use of bicycles is on the increase. I think this should be encouraged. It might also be worth me liaising with Colleagues responsible for Public Transport regarding the carriage of bicycles on buses & trains etc."

In terms of Park Ward, he would "make it as safe as possible for cyclists on our roads, appropriate provision of cycle lanes, better road surfaces, raising driver awareness of cyclists etc."

I think that carriage of bikes on buses is an ambitious venture but good luck (if only with a puncture?)


David Mackintosh (UKIP)

Unfortunately, UKIP were the only party not to respond, which was disappointing as the objective was to give fair coverage to any candidate.

In 2010, the UKIP manifesto had a number of fairly negative cycling propositions, although these have been removed in the 2012 manifesto.

A shame not to get their views to ensure all candidates were equally represented in an uber-local election.


Conclusion

On the whole, it was a fantastic opportunity to engage with prospective councillors before entering office.

All of the candidates (with the exception of UKIP) took an interest in the campaign, and have recognised Wolves on Wheels as a campaign worthy of dialogue.

It was also great to see that the responding candidates were aware of the opportunities open to Wolverhampton to ease congestion, promote healthy lifestyles, and being a positive transport choice.


Would an independent candidate without a political persuasion have had a different response from the mainstream? Probably not!

Cycling as an activity whether commuting or for leisure is surely on the increase and this has been acknowledged by the candidates.


Update Friday 16th November 2PM :

2 hours and 7 minutes after polling had closed I received a response from Barry Hodgson, campaign manager for UKIP candidate David Mackintosh.

Barry said that "David was out on his bike last week", and added that "cycling should be encouraged, facilitated by more lock-up locations, priority for bicycles at more junctions and a regular council-led campaign on safety for cyclists."

An interesting view emerged with his closing remarks, "We all know and understand that Cars and Cycles do not readily mix, and every opportunity to segregate their respective paths.. .. should be taken".

Would cycle training improve your road confidence David? More info available from http://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/transport_streets/motor/safety/cycle_training.htm

Election Results

The winning candidate was Craig Collingswood (Labour), who won with a majority of 541 votes, we look forward to working with him as our campaign becomes more pro-active.

Full results from the election can be viewed at http://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/council/elections/by/november_15_2012/results.htm.


One Way? No Way!

Whoever gets in, we will continue our discussion with Wolverhampton City Council and all political parties regarding the abolition of two way cycling from :

  • Junction ( Salop Street / Cleveland Street / Worcester Street ) UP Victoria St to Beatties, Queen Square AND
  • Junction ( Darlington Street / Queens Square / North Street) Beatties UP Queen Square towards Princess Street and railway station.

Advance stop lines at junctions help ALL vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians alike. None are included in the City centre proposals when the consultation is aimed at "Improving the Public Realm in the City Centre".

0.5 people are killed annually by pavement cycling.
50-60 people are killed by drivers on pavements, let alone the roads . . .

The consultation document by WCC does NOT distinguish between motorised and non-motorised forms of transport, surely some mistake?

WolvesOnWheels contact : Steve Young, 07961 659 273,

nb, views by Steve do not necessarily represent WOW Cycle Campaign.


Copies of original responses from prospective candidates considered on request, they were pre-advised that any response received may be used in media communications.

We sincerely offer our condolences to family and friends of former Councillor Manohar Minhas.

Prospective Councillors details obtained from http://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/council/elections/by/november_15_2012/statement_of_persons_nominated.htm

Park Ward on Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_(Wolverhampton_ward)

Sustrans National Cycle Network : http://www.sustrans.org.uk/map?searchKey=wolverhampton&searchType=search&Search=Find

Advance Stop Line Analysis : Scientific Expert Group on the Safety of Vulnerable Road Users (RS7) http://www.oecd.org/sti/transport/roadtransportresearch/2103492.pdf

Pavement Cycling : http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/node/205



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