Monday 25 November 2019

General Election manifestos - What the politicians pledge for cycling

Here we go, another General Election is on the horizon - just two years after the last one. It's ironic how a specific Fixed Term Parliament Act was passed in 2011, in which general elections would take place every five years. Yet we are now having the second general election within three years. When you add in the EU Referendum of 2016, the local council elections, European elections, and even the London Mayoral elections it seems like we are in a constant state of voting!

I must admit, it just doesn't feel great having a general election right before Christmas. It's going to be tough work for the councils and returning officers. I can't say I feel sorry for the politicians. They brought it on themselves!

Most parties have released party manifestos for the occasion. Having skimmed through the ones for the major political parties I can state that they are all pretty much about blue sky thinking around their fundamental stance on Brexit. All are a bit vague, with a few figures thrown in for good measure. But any politician who says that their policies have been "fully costed" is having a laugh.

It's hard to believe they have had the time to put together something fully coherent in such a short space of time. That also explains why a couple of the parties are still trying pull something together.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I have pulled out the points they make that are associated with cycling and cycling businesses - environment, transport, trade, sport/wellbeing.

Conservative Party 

Get Brexit Done - Unleash Britain's Potential

"And to ensure children are getting an active start to life, we will invest in primary school PE teaching and ensure that it is being properly delivered. We want to do more to help schools make good use of their sports facilities and to promote physical literacy and competitive sport."

"We will launch the biggest ever pothole-filling programme as part of our National Infrastructure Strategy – and our major investment in roads will ensure new potholes are much less likely to appear in the future.

"We will support commuter cycling routes, so that more people can cycle safely to work and more families can go out together. We will create a new £350 million Cycling Infrastructure Fund with mandatory design standards for new routes. We will extend Bikeability – cycling proficiency training – to every child. And we will work with the NHS to promote cycling for healthier living."

"The Green Belt. We will protect and enhance the Green Belt. We will improve poor quality land, increase biodiversity and make our beautiful countryside more accessible for local community use. In order to safeguard our green spaces, we will continue to prioritise brownfield development, particularly for the regeneration of our cities and towns."

"We will help SMEs to become exporters, so that they can seize the opportunities that will become available once we get Brexit done.

"Good regulation is essential to successful businesses: we will strive to achieve the right regulatory balance between supporting excellent business practice and protecting workers, consumers and the environment. Through our Red Tape Challenge, we will ensure that regulation is sensible and proportionate, and that we always consider the needs of small businesses when devising new rules, using our new freedom after Brexit to ensure that British rules work for British companies."

"We welcome the Glover Review and will create new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as making our most loved landscapes greener, happier, healthier and open to all. We will make the coast to coast path across the most beautiful areas of the North a National Trail.

"We will increase penalties for fly-tipping, make those on community sentences clean up their parks and streets, and introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass."

Britain's Standing in the World
"We will build on our fantastic track record of delivering major international sporting events – including supporting the upcoming Commonwealth Games, UEFA European Women’s Championships and Rugby League World Cup – and we would back a potential UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup."

Climate Change
"We will support clean transport to ensure clean air, as well as setting strict new laws on air quality. We will consult on the earliest date by which we can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars."

"We will also redouble our efforts to promote British business and UK exports and dismantle barriers to trade and retake our seat at the World Trade Organisation."

Labour Party

It's Time for Real Change

"We will increase the funding available for cycling and walking. We will bring together transport and land-use planning to create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choice: safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, economical and pollution-free. We will help children’s health and well-being by ensuring street designs provide freedom for physically active outdoor play and by introducing measures to ensure the zones around our schools are safer, with cleaner air.

"Our transport programme is focused on creating better, publicly accessible local transport systems. By improving public transport, Labour will help people to become less reliant on their cars, for our better health, for a cleaner environment and to improve quality of life in our towns and cities. The Conservatives have committed to ending new sales of combustion engine vehicles by 2040. Labour will aim for 2030.

"We will position the UK at the forefront of the development and manufacture of ultra-low emission vehicles and will support their sale. We will invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in electric community car clubs. We will accelerate the transition of our public sector car fleets and our public buses to zero-emissions vehicles."

"We will adopt an ambitious Vision Zero approach to UK road safety, striving for zero deaths and serious injuries. Labour will invest to make our neglected local roads, pavements and cycleways safer for the everyday journeys of both drivers and vulnerable road users. We will review all tolled crossings."

"Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones, complying with World Health Organisation limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides."
"We will create new National Parks alongside a revised system of other protected area designations, which will guard existing wildlife sites and join up important habitats, while also ensuring more people can enjoy living closer to nature."

Labour will secure a new Brexit deal – one that protects jobs, rights and the environment, avoids a hard border in Northern Ireland and protects the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process. We will also ensure that there is no change in the status or sovereignty of Gibraltar.

Our deal will be based on the principles we have set out over the last two years.

It will include:
A permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union, which is vital to protect our manufacturing industry and allows the UK to benefit from joint UK-EU trade deals, and is backed by businesses and trade unions.
Close alignment with the Single Market – ensuring we have a strong future economic relationship with the EU that can support UK businesses.

Liberal Democrats Party
Only a Liberal Democrat government will put the wellbeing of people and the planet first.

We will:
Introduce a wellbeing budget, following the example of New Zealand – basing decisions on what will improve wellbeing as well as on economic and fiscal indicators.

Ensure that the environment is protected for future generations with clean air to breathe and urgent action to tackle the climate emergency.

Climate Action Now
We will set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest, and implement a comprehensive climate action plan, cutting emissions across all sectors.

Saving nature and the countryside
We will protect the natural environment and reverse biodiversity loss at the same time as combating climate change. We will support farmers to protect and restore the natural environment alongside their critical roles in producing food, providing employment and promoting tourism, leisure and health and wellbeing.

We will significantly increase the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path, exploring a ‘right to roam’ for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Parks.

Improving transport
Liberal Democrats will meet this challenge by:
Investing in public transport, buses, trams and railways to enable people to travel more easily while reducing their impact on the environment.
Placing a far higher priority on encouraging walking and cycling – the healthiest forms of transport.

Reducing the need for car travel
Liberal Democrats will invest in public transport, improving its reliability and affordability, reform the planning systems to reduce the need to travel and promote cycling and walking.

We will:
Introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, including the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes, increasing spending per head five-fold to reach 10 per cent of the transport budget.

Build on the successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund established by the Liberal Democrats when in government, and workplace travel plans, to reduce the number of cars – particularly single-occupancy cars – used for commuting, and encourage the development of car-sharing schemes and car clubs and autonomous vehicles for public use.

Amend planning rules to promote sustainable transport and land use.

Our plan for the future is built on championing liberal and international values, ending poverty and promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals both in the UK and abroad. 

We will work through international bodies for better regulation and scrutiny of international trade and investment treaties to ensure they do not worsen inequalities or undermine human rights or developing countries’ ability to regulate the environmental and social impacts of businesses.

The Brexit Party

Contract With The People - A Clean-break Brexit

We pledge to:
  • Invest in the Environment: in addition to planting millions of trees to capture CO2 we will promote a global initiative at the UN.
  • To free up small businesses, the most dynamic part of the economy, to do what they do best – creating new jobs – we will exempt from Corporation Tax those 1 million companies with profit before tax of under £50,000.
  • Maintain subsidies and grants paid by the EU to UK businesses such as farmers, fisheries, universities and research bodies: this is our money anyway, recycled by the EU.
  • Overhaul financial services regulation, cut red tape, increase competition and boost lending to Small and Medium Enterprises.

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