Ambition in the face of austerity?

Response to Newcastle budget 2016-17 consultation

Ambition in the face of austerity? (external link)

To Newcastle City Council

The title for the consultation is yours, but the question mark is ours. We at Newcycling would like to see real ambition for change, which we have outlined in our recent correspondence to Pat Ritchie (for example here). We also refer you to our budget response last year which described the necessary leadership and administrative changes required for mode-shifting transport transition (as your policies dictate) – to enable more people to have a true option to leave the car at home. It might be worth mentioning at this point, that we had no meaningful reply to last year’s response, and we do therefore again have to question your sincerity for these consultations, or your competence to set aside necessary capacity to carry out these consultations, city engagement and public debate.

For sure, you have again set out your laudable aims to tackle inequality and state that fairness, inclusion and improving public health are important to you. You describe a city which has decent neighbourhoods too. These are all things that we at Newcycling believe are just empty words if we do not address the way we travel in and around our city. This must be done in a sustainable way by prioritising space for local people and areas where they live, assess the transport system for its true multi-modal capacity – and setting aside space according to inclusive principles. Even if there were sufficient space, spending millions of pounds on roads which will simply facilitate more and more car journeys is not going to turn Newcastle into a modern sustainable city. We explained the induced-demand trap to you here.

We would like to see more planning for the future and an invest-to-save acknowledgement in your proposal, linking investment in the infrastructure with people’s wellbeing, better futures and jobs.

The ‘modern sustainable transport system’ that you describe is not possible to develop without coordination between different departments, such as transport, highways, planning, parking and vitally public health. The message is a strong one but it needs to be backed up with decisive action now. We believe that it is not possible to achieve a transition without employing an expert to assist with communicating change by being a champion of the modern livable city. Currently there is no such person and it shows.

We look forward to being part of the ‘collaboration’ that you warmly invite.

Our study of the proposed Northern Access Corridor here illustrates the problems with the current decision-making process. We need to overhaul the old structures before we can truly address the city’s needs. Our city created railways and overcame water and air pollution from the heavy Victorian industries, we surely now have the entrepreneurial spirit of our ancestors and predecessors to clean up transport too.

Good wishes
The Management Committee

All four letter to the chief excecutive can be read here.

  1. First letter Working together for a successful outcome requires accountability
  2. Second letter What is the price we pay for our transport system?
  3. Third letter Governing the transport transition
  4. Forth letter WANTED – leadership for a transport transition