I am writing to you, in response to your letter and 2 questions on behalf of all the Conservative candidates for this May’s local elections, as our group spokesperson for Environment & Transport.
Firstly thank you for your groups efforts on behalf of cyclists. In terms of what a Conservative run council would look like for cyclists, I think you will find all of the “Space for Cycling” boxes ticked by local Conservatives. The below statement covers both your questions in more detail:
Our vision is a transport network fit for a modern city. In terms of sustainability and most importantly public health, cycling needs to be more of a focus for a modern, expanding city like ours. New schemes and road improvements need to be planned to provide safe cycling provision from the outset wherever possible. Embedding this ethos in our city and highway schemes is our aim. Consulting and engaging with cycling representatives at the start of a project is a must!
Our group has already committed to implementing residential 20mph speed limits where residents want them. This is a crucial distinction between Labour and ourselves – Labour have no desire to make this a local priority. Since the Government changed the regulations around 20mph limits in 2012 we have called for this to be done as a priority. This would be an immediate job for a Conservative run council.
Tackling local “rat runs” is something we would look to address in the most effective way for each individual area. Ensuring better traffic flow management on main routes may automatically take traffic off quieter residential streets, as could the introduction of 20mph limits. We would happily look to engage with cyclists to understand and prioritise areas of the greatest concern.
A cycle friendly city would automatically provide safe travel throughout. We will look to build on and improve existing cycle infrastructure and already have plans to provide increased traffic enforcement around local schools, which will help to provide the safe routes and environments to our schools that will encourage more walking and cycling.
We will also look to implement the air quality inquiry’s recommendations with regard prioritising road re-surfacing on cycle routes. The western route in is in need of desperate attention as Millbrook Road East and 1st Avenue on the NCN Route 236 is dangerous for cyclists in places due to the poor surface amongst other issues. There are similar issues on the Eastern side of the city too, and scope for better provision for cyclists.
The most important change that can be made is changing the way we think. Cycle provision needs to be a main ingredient rather than an afterthought. We also need to consider the needs of both commuter cyclists and the leisure cyclist – not both want the same thing always and compromise may be required. Crucially we need to work to break down the barriers to jumping on that saddle in our great city.
Electing a Conservative councillor locally will help bring forward a change in who runs the council so we can deliver our vision. It will also guarantee you a responsive local Councillor who will listen to your concerns and raise these with an executive wanting to listen and act. There is always room for improvement, but the first step is the will to see change, and with Southampton Conservative candidates you have that will!
Steve, on behalf of all Southampton Conservative candidates
Councillor Steven Galton
Conservative Spokesperson for Environment & Transport
On a personal note one of my first residents meetings was with a member of your campaign. I booked a council “pool” bike and rode the ward to understand first-hand the issues. During my 2 years as a Councillor I have bought a bike and try to cycle as much as possible. Having experienced what it is like for cyclists I can understand the frustrations and share your desire to improve our city.
I also care greatly about tackling local air pollution, and see increased local cycling as a great tool in this fight also.
I have raised concerns over changes to cycle routes and ensured good communication with your members. Hopefully this demonstrates action rather than just talk and I genuinely hope I get the chance to continue and take this work further forward post 5th May this year.