PCC candidate – Vera Baird (Lab) outlines:

Thanks for writing. I can agree with all the concerns you have in the attachment and am sympathetic generally as an occasional cyclist myself. It would be good to meet soon, if I am elected to discuss how to progress some of the issues you raise.

I am not clear what policing resources are currently allocated to cycling and/or what partnership working there is which may be staffed from the local authority or elsewhere. Until I have access to a clear understanding of what is currently available, what more is needed and the scale of the work to be done, it would be unwise to commit to anything as specific as the appointment of a cycling liaison officer.

Further the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner is to liaise with the public to draw up policing policy and strategy and then to negotiate with the Chief Constable for her to implement that strategy through a Five Year Policing Plan and to monitor and scrutinise with the public whether she is doing so effectively. It may be, therefore, that agreeing steps to be taken in the interests of protecting and advancing the rights of cyclists will be determined in consultation with the public by the PCC whilst decisions on whether to appoint someone specifically to liaise with cyclists, may be an operational decision for the Chief Constable.

Some of your concerns have been voiced to me already by Labour councillors from South Jesmond where I live and I am glad to be in touch with you since the duty to consult the public is a wide and strong one and it is imperative that I access groups who represent every area of public interest and cyclists are an important group.

We clarified “As cyclists are in a minority we are typically worried about plans being made in ‘consultation with the public’ as our voice can easily be drowned out. So it is very welcome to hear that you promise to access groups who represent every area of public interest and you see cyclists as an important group. So, in the interim and to summarise, you are certainly not opposed to the idea of a liaison officer, and you happy to meet and talk further how to improve engagement, if elected.”

Vera replied “Your summary is spot on and I look forward to meeting you all.