Category Archives: Regional Issues

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

We’re hiring!

SCATE is looking for a highly motivated, creative and innovative person who cares passionately about sustainable transport and the environment to raise the profile of SCATE and our core values.  This person will be good at engaging, inspiring and influencing people along the south coast who can help drive forward our agenda.

If you think you have the necessary skills and passion, please get in touch. For more details, please see the job advert and job description, but hurry the deadline for applying is 10am, Monday, 7 December.

Transport strategy too slow

We submitted our response to Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) consultation on its draft regional transport strategy on 10 January along with many other organisations and over 3,000 people who used Friends of the Earth’s template letter.  While we were supportive of much of the vision and high level objectives, we were less supportive with much of the detail.

In summary, SCATE welcome the following:

  • The 2050 net-zero carbon target
  • The move to planning for people rather than for vehicles
  • That net biodiversity gain is mentioned
  • Acknowledgement that EVs won’t solve the congestion problem

But had the following concerns:

  • The lack of urgency in tackling car dependency / culture to achieve modal shift and traffic reduction – can’t carry on building roads and put off change for 5 – 10 years
  • A pathway to net-zero carbon before 2050 with intermediate targets is missing.
  • All proposals should be assessed to show how they contribute to meeting the carbon targets
  • The preferred scenario fails to prioritise traffic reduction and instead shows an 8% increase in traffic and a 13% decrease in active travel over today’s levels
  • Local (sustainable) connectivity, particularly active travel, should be treated as a strategic priority
  • There is no mechanism proposed to ‘lock in’ modal shift with increased bus and rail (or active travel) provision so that the resultant road traffic reduction isn’t lost over time
  • The strategy has a list of major road building that will destroy biodiversity despite wanting to promote biodiversity net gain
  • A greater focus on seamless integration between sustainable modes is needed
  • New developments should be based on high quality mass transit and active travel networks, combined with good local service provision, not new roads
  • The Integrated Sustainability Appraisal while containing some good background information is undermined by a number of unsubstantiated and incorrect assertions around health and equality. It also misses some important impacts regarding roadbuilding.

A copy of our full response is available here.

A new regional vision on the horizon

Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a new regional transport body, whose board is made up of local highways authorities and some of the region’s local enterprise partnerships. It is looking to co-ordinate strategic transport planning and could allow for collaboration and innovation across the South East. However, if done badly, it could just mean more of the same, outdated road building mentality that has served us so poorly to date.

TfSE is in the process of drafting a regional transport strategy. The strategy will influence how public money is spent in the region. That is why it is important to get involved with the forthcoming consultation. We need to make sure that sustainability is given a high priority and that the final strategy demonstrates how it will play its part in reducing carbon emissions. (Transport emissions are currently out of control in the UK and are being exacerbated by all the road building that is taking place and by the freeze on fuel duty).

The launch event for consultation on the draft strategy is on the 10th October in Farnborough. There will then be a series of afternoon and early evening events across the south east.  The afternoon events (held between 1.30pm-4pm) are invitation only, but these can be requested from TfSE via tfse@eastsussex.gov.uk

These are then followed by an informal drop-in session from 4.30pm-6pm where you can have a one-to-one conversation about the draft strategy. If you are interested in going to one of these you will need to register to go through clicking the relevant event link below.

Afternoon invitation event 1.30pm-4pm.

Reading Town Hall, Weds 16th Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Woking, WWF Living Centre, Thurs 17th Oct 1.30pm – 4pm

Canterbury, Christ Church University, Tues 22nd Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Brighton, Jury’s Inn, Weds 23rd Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Southampton, Central Hall, Thurs 24th Oct 1.30pm – 4pm

 

Early evening informal drop-in session 4.30pm-6.00pm.

 

Reading Town Hall, Weds 16th Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Woking, WWF Living Centre, Thurs 17th Oct 4.30pm – 6pm

Canterbury, Christ Church University, Tues 22nd Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Brighton, Jury’s Inn, Weds 23rd Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Southampton, Central Hall, Thurs 24th Oct 4.30pm – 6pm

 

SCATE will be publishing its response to the draft Strategy and guidance on how to respond to the consultation as soon as possible after the 10th October.

Body seeks transport powers

Transport for the South East (TfSE) is bidding to become a statutory body and is asking for views on its proposal.  It was set up in 2017 and involves local authorities, business groups and other organisations across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and Berkshire.

Some SCATE members have attended stakeholder workshops run by TfSE about a new regional transport strategy that they are developing and which will be out for consultation this autumn.

TfSE says:  Statutory status would give us the ability to directly influence the government’s decisions on transport issues and give us the tools we need to deliver our transport strategy

SCATE believes that there is a case for a regional transport body with the relevant powers to enable positive and sustainable transport solutions to happen. However there are worrying signs in the consultation proposal that the over-riding aim is really to invest in transport that delivers economic growth.  Whilst TfSE talks about investment in rail and bus networks there seems to be a focus on the expansion of aviation and damaging new roads.

The paper does acknowledge the high quality environmental and historic “assets” that we have in the region, but it does not really talk about how a new statutory body can ensure that these are protected and enhanced whilst investing in new transport infrastructure.  Neither does it concern itself with health and well-being, air pollution and most importantly of all, climate change.

The government recently adopted the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a number of Local Authorities in the South East (who are members of TfSE) have passed climate emergency motions in the past few months.

Transport is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK – accounting for 27% of emissions.[i] Transport is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990. It is the key area which is undermining efforts to tackle climate change.

At a time of climate crisis it would be a huge oversight to set up a new statutory body which has no remit or power to deliver change through policies and actions that ensure modal shift and an overall decrease in emissions from road traffic and aviation.  Part of the problem is the lack of engagement with the public or other key stakeholders in the region such as from the community and voluntary sectors.  We believe that there needs to be strong conditions on the approval of any new statutory body for the South East and that it needs to be inclusive and broaden the range of stakeholders it engages with.

If you have views please get them in soon. The deadline is July 31st. SCATE and some of its member groups will be putting in responses, however if our concerns are to be taken seriously we need others to amplify them.  You can email responses to tfse@eastsussex.gov.uk

SCATE believes the new body should:

  • Support sustainable economic prosperity, rather than growth per se which often comes with severe social and environmental impacts
  • Have a duty to protect and enhance environmental and historical assets, improve health and well-being and reduce air and noise pollution.
  • Demonstrate best practice in the delivery of net biodiversity gain in all infrastructure delivery
  • Have a duty to invest in systems and schemes to reduce carbon emissions, in line with UK national budgets and targets and to appraise all infrastructure schemes against these
  • Be fully open and transparent with regards to both the board and any sub-groups or advisory fora, all of which should be open to the public to attend, with agendas, papers and meeting minutes published as per the standards operated by local authorities
  • Engage with a wider number of stakeholders, especially the community and voluntary sector who have largely been excluded to date

[i] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2018a) Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics 1990-2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics 

Nominate good housing developments for an award

Have you moved recently to a new housing development area? Do you know someone that has? Were you involved in the creation of one of these areas? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, and you are proud of where you now live or what you have helped create, then keep on reading.

Transport for New Homes are looking for examples of new housing developments that promote sustainable transport options. If your new housing area promotes walking, cycling and public transport then submit your nomination for the Transport for New Homes award before 26 August.

What’s the criteria?

  • Developments must be in the UK
  • The development must not be over 5 years old
  • A minimum of 500 homes that are mostly occupied
  • Attractive public transport and good walking and cycling routes

There is a growing movement which recognises that over reliance on car use is increasing carbon emissions. Research has shown that creating new roads and expanding existing ones only serves to increase traffic. We need to move away from this method of development and travel in order to combat climate change. Through developing sustainable transport solutions we can do this.

We need new housing developments to lead the way. If developments are designed taking into consideration 21st century issues like global warming, then they will be able to play an active role in preventing it. Through promoting cycling, walking and public transport in these developments, we can move away from an over-reliance on car use. This will help reduce carbon emissions and also foster a healthier and cleaner way of life.

If you don’t know of something good happening maybe a colleague or friend does?  Please do let us see any nomination you send.

If you live in a new development where the transport options are affecting you in a negative way we’d be interested to hear your experiences too.  Contact us and let us know.

The Time is Now

It was great to see so many concerned people at the Time is Now mass lobby of MP’s in parliament last week. Transport is a key issue that many people were quizzing their MP’s about.

Research shows that transport is the largest source of greenhouse gases and is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990. This highlights why a modal shift away from cars is necessary to reduce the carbon footprint of transport. If we can focus on alternatives such as improving cycling infrastructure, promoting public transport and developing more efficient bus and train services, then we can move towards tackling climate change.

We need to ensure MPs and other decision makers stop supporting plans to increase the size of roads which will generate further car use. -taking us in the wrong direction on carbon emissions.

We know some SCATE supporters made it to the Time is Now mass lobby. Were you there? We would love to hear about how you found the occasion and what kind of responses you got from your MP. Get in contact on Facebook or twitter to let us know, we would love to see any photos you took.

Some MPs did not come and meet their constituents. If yours didn’t please do write to them and see if you can get any commitments in writing saying they will support funding for active travel and public transport and that they will oppose new road building in their area.

Be part of the solution

On 15 June, we held our first proper networking event in Brighton – it was a really positive afternoon with people from across East and West Sussex attending –  including a number of new councillors from Brighton & Hove, Chichester, Arun, Mid-Sussex and Horsham District.

People appreciated being able to get together and to make connections.  We had interesting talks from Transport for New Homes, a new organisation looking at how bad new transport infrastructure is for big new housing developments and what we can do about it.  We had an inspiring talk from John Stewart about the value of working in alliances and other tips for campaigning to stop damaging new roads.  Finally we had a presentation on SCATE’s New Transport Vision from Kia Trainor one of our Committee members.

There were some very productive workshops in the afternoon looking at what we could do, both individually and together, to make a difference and bring about positive change.  At the end of the day a number of us retired to the pub to carry on the conversations.  If you haven’t signed up to SCATE why not do so now?