Newcastle council: can you deliver what you have promised – a better future city?

Newcastle council has agreed to go back to the drawing board with the Blue House roundabout, and is hopefully rethinking the full corridor in the process. In the light of this, we would like to explore how the council might use the evident public support for doing things differently, getting away from outdated methods of transport planning, and show true leadership to deliver change.

Having carefully studied the council’s policies, there is certainly ample scope for this change to happen. Here we pose some questions to the council to help them direct their efforts towards meeting policy mandates.

We would like to know how the council will achieve these Local Plan mandates in particular:

Question 1

Newcastle council say they want:

To reduce CO2 emission from development and future growth while adapting to the issues, mitigating adverse impacts and taking advantage of the opportunities presented by climate change.”

We therefore want to ask exactly how the council, under the leadership of Chief Executive Pat Ritchie, are planning to do this if not through overall motor traffic reduction. Traffic emissions make nearly 30% of overall emissions in Newcastle. If we ‘cycled like the Danes’ we could reduce the total CO2 emissions by 10%. If the council is serious about reducing emissions, officers will have renounce the very outdated engineering and planning processes of appraisal and design,which they currently follow. Please see this recent report from the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), including its short podcast (specifically listen from 12:04): http://www.ciht.org.uk/en/knowledge/futures/index.cfm

Question 2

So, the council needs to change the way it does things to meet contemporary challenges. What is Newcastle council planning to formulate and manage this reform? In its Local Plan Newcastle acknowleges that a paradigmatic shift is needed:

“This Plan is being written at a time of changing priorities. We can no longer rely on the exploitation of natural resources to meet our everyday needs or generate our wealth. There needs to be an integrated approach to planning for the future to provide a high quality of life at a lower environmental and ecological cost. The North East will need to address the effects of climate change.”

In order to achieve this reform, the council will have to review both their financial and organisational structures, and their technical and political expertise to pave the pathway towards a liveable and healthy Newcastle that puts residents, and not motor traffic, first.

We would like to know whether the council is considering answering these two vital questions so Newcastle can build the greener, healthier and more accessible transport system of the future. It is evident that this is what many people who live in this great city want.