May 2012

New councils…

What do the Scottish council election results mean for cycling policy and investment in Edinburgh and elsewhere? …

Don’t just take the results in your local council for granted – find out what new opportunities the results give you for lobbying – and try to keep the parties which are now in power in your area to any useful promises they have made!   Below we give what information we have, particularly for Edinburgh and the Lothians, but also more widely.   Please send us any updates.

Lothians councils
All councils


Result – Lab 20, SNP 18, Con 11, Green 6, LD 3

Control – Lab/SNP coalition

The Coalition Agreement [pdf 266k] includes…

6.2 Spend 5% of the transport budget on provision for cyclists
6.3 Consult with a view to extending the current 20mph zones
6.4 Set up a city-wide transport forum of experts and citizens to consider our modern transport needs

However all parties will also want to fulfill their own manifestos as far as possible, whether or not they are a ruling party.  Other articles on our website give links to the full party manifestos and to manifesto extracts relevant to cycling policy.

In particular, current council policy [pdf 1.7MB, see bottom of p19], as voted by the council in the Feb 2012 budget motion, is that “the percentage of transport spend (net of specifically allocated external transport funding) allocated to cycling shall be a minimum of 5%, for both revenue and capital, in 2012/13 and that the percentage of spend on cycling will increase by 1% annually.”   Will the coalition maintain this full commitment, including the increase, in their next budgets? – it is not clear from the coalition agreement.  However, the Labour manifesto did promise “increasing (the 5%) year by year” and SNP promised “increase .. whenever we can.”   Undoubtedly Spokes, and opposition parties such as the Greens, will be looking out for whether there is any attempt to ditch the “1% annual increase” policy!

Labour also had an excellent manifesto commitment on 20mph areas, “extending 20mph limits to all residential and shopping areas.”   The coalition 20mph promise is much weaker.  Labour councillors can therefore be pressed to look at a city-wide 20mph limit – although probably with the exception of 30mph for arterial roads in non-shopping areas.

Councillorsfind them on the council website, or find yours via

Transport ConvenerCllr Lesley Hinds.  She was Lord (Lady!) Provost 2003-2007.  Here is what she said before the election about cycling policy [also here in text form].  At the Spokes hustings she said she was too scared to cycle on the roads – that may or may not be helpful in terms of getting conditions improved!

Council LeaderCllr Andrew Burns.  He was Transport Convener 2001-2006, and very supportive of cycling as a means of everyday transport.

Spokes members – The following councillors are Spokes members –

Ward 9 – Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart –  Gavin Corbett, Green
Ward 10 – Meadows/MorningsideMelanie Main, Green
Ward 13 – Leith –  Chas Booth, Green;   Gordon Munro, Labour
Ward 15 – Southside/NewingtonJim Orr, SNP;  Cameron Rose, Conservative
Ward 17 – Portobello/CraigmillarMaureen Child, Labour


East Lothian

Result – Lab 10; SNP 9; Con 3; Ind 1

Control – Lab/Con coalition

Councillorsfind them on the council website, or find yours via

Transport Convener – Michael Veitch [Con]

Council Leader – Willie Innes [Lab]

Spokes members – No councillors are Spokes members


Result – SNP 8, Lab 8. Ind 1, Green 1

Control – SNP/Ind coalition [also Green support in SNP taking control, but is not in the coalition]

Councillorsfind them on the council website, or find yours via

Transport Convener – ?

Council Leader – ?

Spokes members – The following councillors are Spokes members –

Bonnyrigg ward Ian  Baxter [Green]

West Lothian

Result – Lab 16, SNP 15, Con 1, Ind 1

Control – Lab/Con coalition

Councillorsfind them on the council website, or find yours via

Transport Convener – Cllr Cathy Muldoon [Lab]

Council Leader – Cllr John McGinty [Lab]

Spokes members – No councillors are Spokes members

Manifestos – We could not find any manifestos, but the two Labour leaflets we saw both called for specific cycling improvements in their ward..  John McGinty [Bathgate] and Tom Conn [Linlithgow].


Councils where the SNP is in power or shares power

The SNP issued a national manifesto applicable to all councils, so this can be used to lobby SNP councillors everywhere; and if the SNP is in power in your area they should be implementing these promises.  On cycling, it promises…

  • [p31] All SNP councils will have a green transport plan to cut carbon and encourage walking, cycling or alternative forms of transport.  [Remind them about this to make sure they start on it soon!  – and press them to consult widely, including with local cycling groups]
  • [p22] work with relevant stakeholders on improving cyclist safety to help encourage a shift to more active travel alternatives, helping to make Scotland greener and healthier.
  • [p34] SNP councils will work with the Scottish Government and cycling charities to ensure all our school pupils are offered on-road cycle training to keep them safe.

Find local manifestos

Find out which party or parties now control your council, then try to get hold of their manifesto(s).  Do this soon, in case manifestos start to disappear from websites etc!

Even if a manifesto doesn’t specifically mention cycling, there may be goals which are relevant – e.g. environmental or health goals.   Ask the parties what they intend to do to keep any relevant promises, and make your own suggestions!

To find out who is in control, check your local council website; or use google –  for example, search for “council control 2012 Edinburgh“;  or use Wikipedia [the big table there is not yet complete for all councils].

Once you know who controls your local council, find their manifestos. Try googling something like “council election 2012 manifesto Edinburgh Labour.”   If that fails, go to your council website [there’s a link in the Wikipedia article above] and email the leader(s) of the ruling party(ies) asking for a copy of their manifesto.

Lobby for a % for cycling investment

Challenge your council to follow Edinburgh’s example by allocating an annual % of their transport capital and revenue budgets to cycling investment – additional to any external or ring-fenced money they may obtain from Government or outside bodies like Sustrans.

Few councils will be willing to allocate as much as 5% (and increasing by 1% a year, as Edinburgh has decided).  However, challenge them to allocate a % which is as least as great as the cycling % of trips to work – that sounds more like common sense than asking for an arbitrary x% figure.   For more on this, and how to find out the figures, see our article about Edinburgh’s decision.


Comments are closed.