Our response to Newcastle City Council’s delivery plan

We value this honest and critical assessment, but do not recognise the strong solutions that the assessment requires in order to improve Newcastle’s future.

We must point the council, again, to the messages from Philippe Crist OECD, highlighting the link between a liveable city and good quality jobs. In order to get businesses thriving and a productive and satisfied workforce, our city’s spaces have to be adapted to solutions of the 21st Century. Citizens must be equitably able to access the places of commerce, civic care and leisure. Given the constraints in natural resources and increasing climate chaos, the human scale must be put back into our cities to nurture communities, social coherence and resilience. Newcastle is a home to people, a destination to visitors and a place of work. The current transport system is not working and strains are becoming more and more visible. Sustainable transport means building cycleways from road space to provide a real alternative to many of the local short journeys currently done by car. More people cycling would also help address Newcastle’s public health epidemic. Transport is a cross-cutting subject, but this delivery plan has denied mobility’s overarching nature to be captured adequately.

We urge Newcastle council to take note, and rethink solutions for a sustainable future of our city Newcastle. It is our home, workplace and a wonderful visiting attraction. It is for the politicians to set, arrange and scrutinise budgets. Looking at the the delivery plan, we believe enough money is there to plan and build sustainable travel into the city, but it means making choices between the old roadbuilding trajectory and going on a new journey of future-oriented mobility. First and foremost, it needs a cultural shift inside the council. We would like to be assured this is happening.

We fear the delivery plan is weak and will not provide sufficient steer into the sustainable future. Overall the city chiefs will have to communicate much more clearly their vision to the wider public. The current engagement with civic groups is lacking and will create, yet again, unnecessary hostility during the planning and delivery phases. As activists, we keenly recognise that it is not easy to challenge norms and narratives. Yet we do expect our politicians to be able to do so: to clearly articulate future challenges and their solutions and to communicate these to the city and national authorities.