Author Archives: Pete Nolan

Arundel Bypass Update Summer 2021

Two member groups of SCATE, A27 Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee and Arundel SCATE recently held a demonstration against the route chosen by Highways England to bypass Arundel. This “Grey route” would severely affect the villages of Tortington and Binsted as well as ploughing through an internationally important area for bats. The increased capacity on the road would encourage more traffic – creating more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  Residents from Arundel, and the three villages that will be seriously damaged if the 8 km Arundel Bypass goes ahead, gathered at the site of one of the proposed bridges. Their protest was surrounded by historic and wildlife-rich landscape.

Highways England has carried out two rounds of consultation to decide the preferred route but have gone against the overwhelming majority of locals. Only 7% of local respondents chose the grey option. There was however, majority support (61%) for “doing nothing” or to upgrads the current course of the road. These options would have less environmental impacts; both in terms of carbon emissions and ecological damage. . On-line upgrades are supported by Arundel SCATE and Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee. 

Arundel SCATE has proposed the A27 Alternative: a series of improvements to local transport to ease congestion whilst minimising road capacity increases. The alternative plans include upgrades to the current road, restored half hourly bus services to Southampton (currently hourly) and increased walking and cycling connectivity (particularly to Ford railway station, making Arundel a two station town).

The current situation is that Highways England has appointed a contractor to build the road despite the fact that the formal statutory consultation has not yet begun. Geological and Ecological surveys are happening, and are operating out of the compounds set up on the current A27. 

BUT THERE IS INCREASING HOPE… The statutory consultation for the bypass is yet to start, and the campaign effort is fighting hard for the scrapping of the scheme.

What can you do to help?

Post Election Update on SCATE’s Sustainable Transport Pledges

As you probably saw over the period of the council elections SCATE asked candidates to sign up to a series of sustainable transport pledges. Here’s a quick update on that work. 

We asked candidates across East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire to sign up to pledges that covered general commitments such as reducing transport related emissions, as well as specific ones such as opposing road expansions and campaigning for rail upgrades. You can see the full list here: scate.org.uk/council-elections-2021-the-scate-sustainable-transport-pledges/

We emailed all the Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib Dem party groups across the three counties and we had around 35 responses. Some were from individuals, some representing an entire group of candidates from a party. The vast majority of those who signed up, signed up to all of the pledges we proposed. Here’s the response rates for each of the political parties:

 

17 of the candidates that responded, were subsequently elected. We’ve now written to the newly elected councillors congratulating them on their election result and sharing our transport vision with them (scate.org.uk/transport-studies/a-new-transport-vision/). We’ve also proposed meetings to discuss local and strategic issues. 

If there are particular local transport issues or campaigns that would benefit from a local champion on the council it may be worth getting in touch with these councillors. Also keep your ears to the ground for news that we have arranged meetings with councillors as it would be good to have local representation as part of those.

Here is the full list of who signed up to what, and whether they were elected:

 

What does “supporting every village/town having a bus service every hour” look like?

So many rural communities are completely car dependent. Those that cannot or do not drive,  are cut off from nearby towns, family,  friends, and essential public services. Buses are the only feasible public transport in many small towns and villages as new services are quick to implement, and don’t require expensive infrastructure. 

The Government published “Bus Back Better” in March. This new focus on buses certainly makes a welcome change from Thatcher’s famous deriding of bus-goers, which seemed to outlive her in Westminster. What’s more, it recognises that “local bus fares have risen by 1.4% a year in real terms since 2010”. 

This new strategy, alongside the £3bn pledged in 2019, will provide opportunities for improvement to some bus services but it comes nowhere close to reversing decades of bus route axing, fare increases and neglect. The lack of funding is especially stark when compared to the government’s £27bn road building programme.

In Switzerland, every village of two to three hundred people is guaranteed at least an hourly bus service from 6am to midnight, 7 days a week. Countryside charity CPRE is campaigning for a swiss standard bus service in the UK. Its report “Every Village, Every Hour”, published in March, shows that a year on year investment from the government is needed in order to meet the needs of everyone, especially those in rural areas. The petition by CPRE calling for reliable bus services for every community now has over 50,000 signatures.

As part of SCATE’s Sustainable Transport Pledges, we are asking council candidates to “Support every village/town having a bus service every hour.” But what would that commitment mean in real terms? There’s several ways councillors should fulfil this pledge: 

  • Engaging with the plans laid out in “Bus Back Better”; for enhanced partnerships and franchising of bus services.
  • Working across transport authority borders to provide better connected bus networks.
  • Lobbying government to provide year on year investment to buses and increase the ambition to provide real alternatives to car ownership for rural communities.

SCATE has asked candidates from the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green parties to sign up to our Sustainable Transport Pledges (the rest of which can be seen here). We’re also encouraging others to write to candidates we’ve already contacted as well as those from other parties and independents, encouraging them to respond to the google form. The deadline for submission is 26/4/21, at which point we’ll be collecting the results, and publicising them across the south coast.

Council Elections 2021: The SCATE Sustainable Transport Pledges

13/04/2021

With candidates for upcoming council elections announced a few days ago, political parties will be rolling out their campaigns to win seats at the ballot box on Thursday 6th May. Along the south coast elections are taking place in Hampshire, East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent, though not in Brighton and Hove. We hope that climate change and environmental protection will feature higher than ever on the list of priorities.

SCATE has asked candidates from the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green parties to sign up to our Sustainable Transport Pledges. We’re also encouraging others to write to candidates we’ve already contacted as well as those from other parties and independents, encouraging them to respond to the google form. The deadline for submission is 26/4/21, at which point we’ll be collecting the results, and publicising them across the south coast.

The SCATE Sustainable Transport Pledges are to:

  • Promote policies that significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with transport.
  • Support every village/town having a bus service every hour.
  • Lobby for cheaper rail services.
  • Campaign for safer roads for all to enable more active travel.
  • Prioritise digital infrastructure over road building.
  • Support the A27 Arundel Alternative and oppose Highways England’s Grey Route.
  • Campaign for an urgent upgrade of West Coastway rail services.
  • Oppose any new A27 dual carriageway east of Lewes.
  • Campaign for the reintroduction of the Uckfield-Lewes rail line.
  • Campaign for an urgent upgrade of Marshlink rail line.
  • Seek the scrapping of ‘Smart motorways’. 
  • Campaign for more frequent rail services in the Solent area.

We hope that by asking candidates to sign up to these pledges we’ll raise sustainable transit up the agenda. This campaign provides an opportunity for candidates to assure voters that they will take transport emissions seriously. It will also provide a benchmark to judge future councillors’ actions by.

The more people ask candidates to commit to the pledges the more likely they are to do so. Please write to your local candidates asking them to fill in the form. Below is a copy of what we sent out, you can use this as a template if you like, but it’s also great to personalise the letter. A list of candidates standing in your area can be found on the relevant council website.

Written by Pete Nolan (SCATE Campaign Support Officer)

 

Here is the letter that we sent out:

Dear political party group

I am writing on behalf of South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE); a coalition of over 45 member organisations across Hampshire, Sussex and Kent as well as many  individual members across the 4 counties. We are asking all council candidates to commit to sustainable transport pledges in the run up to the elections in May. We will collate all commitments and publicise these along the south coast. Continue reading