Scrutiny question

Dear scrutiny manager (Newcastle City Council), I would like to submit a question for scrutiny if I may.

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SCRUTINY QUESTION AND BACKGROUND

Adopted in the late 1990s Newcastle’s Unitary Development Plan refers to the 1991 Cycling Policy and Plan of an innercity network. The aim of the policy was to “improve the safety of cyclists within the City” and was promised to be under regular review. This is only one example of a positive cycle policy by our council. A multitude was to follow thereafter.

In contrast, a recent petition handed to Council on 02.06.2010 and signed by over 800 local supporters (within four weeks) asked for cycle safety to be addressed in the city centre and cycle routes to be identified across the city centre as they currently don’t exist.

Why have cycling conditions improved only very marginally and the number of cyclists increased only slightly (if at all) in the city centre over the last 20 years, despite very positive policy statements in the past?

REASON FOR SCRUTINY SUBMISSION

The council website asks for a reason to be stated with the submission of a scrutiny question. I have a keen interest in understanding the council’s approach relating to cycling matters as

• a citizen of Newcastle, eligible for voting,
• a regular commuter by bicycle through the city centre,
• the safe-cycling petition organiser and
• chair of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign

Through various dealings with the council, I now must suspect that, within the council, there are barriers (institutional, ideological and otherwise) to the advancement of urban cycling. I not only ask Newcastle City Council to identify these barriers but also to openly and honestly confront and address these, once and for all.
Policy has not been upheld and we have a right to understand why this is and how this can be overcome so it doesn’t happen again, for the sake of an efficient, consistent and transparent running of local government.

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Don’t hesitate to contact me if you should require clarification.