Whilst for many management of our streets should be about improving them based on evidence, the reality is that any changes are very political. The consultation currently on-going for the proposed trial is really highlighting the differences in approach between the local parties.
I looked at the Labour position yesterday. Let's now look at the Tory position. They've sent out a letter to local residents which you can see at the bottom. Let me highlight a few points that they have raised.
The proposals to pilot a series of road closures in this area has been put forward by Liberal Democrat activist Jon Irwin, who presented a petition to the Council.So far so good. Almost 3 years ago I collected 243 signatures from local residents to support trying to make the streets safer. They go on.
Rather than simply imposing a series of road closures on residents the Council is quite rightly consulting residents that would be affected, asking for at least a 40% response rate before taking any action.I did originally think if I got so much support to conduct a trial, then we could go ahead with it as a trial to see if it improved the streets. That said, I understand the need to consult. Still the implication from their wording is that it's Lib Dems trying to impose unwanted changes on the area. Guess all those signatures from local people don't really count for the Tories.
From knocking on doors and speaking to residents in the area the general feeling is that residents are overwhelmingly against the proposed series of road closures.They must be speaking with different people to the ones I speak with, and got to sign the petition originally.
We firmly believe that our streets should be safe for all their users - pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. We do not believe in the imposition of policies to favour one group above another.This made me laugh. On Fishponds Road, people are allowed to park their cars half on the pavement, whilst at the same time there are signs up asking people not to cycle on the pavement. So space to walk reduced so that people can park cars. Allowed to drive on the pavement (pedestrian area), not allowed to cycle. As a result of the Tory policies, the traffic counts that have been done for the Fishponds area (to have baseline data in the event of the trial happening) are only for motor traffic. No pedestrian or cyclist counts have been done.
The Tories claim to not favour one group above another, the implementation of their policies shows that claim is totally false. If it was equal, wouldn't there have been counts for pedestrians and people on bicycles? Clearly cars come first for the Tories, not people. They have a track record of failing to deliver balanced policies, for all their claims, the evidence on the ground speaks much louder.
Final point from this letter, they continue:
We also believe that any proposals for transport in our area should be resident led.Perhaps they think if we are ill we should just self medicate and not visit the doctor. Why do we employ highway engineers at the council, if instead of asking their views as professionals it's up to local residents to solve the problems on our streets? Shouldn't councillors also be looking for the greater good too, and actively seeking to improve our streets? They are a public resource, and should be managed for the good of everyone.
Not only are they choosing to ignore evidence, here they are actively encouraging not even gathering evidence locally to see if this potential solution can work.
No wonder we've got so many issues with street management in the borough. If the Tories won't listen to evidence and don't want to make decisions based on evidence, what chance is there of making real progress unless local people vote them out?