March 2017

Thu 4 May: Council Elections

Council elections are approaching and are critical to cycling and transport policies and budgets for the next 5 years.   We’ll tell you here how to make the most of the election opportunity locally …

We are supporting and working with WalkCycleVote.Scot – an umbrella group of organisations working to ensure a high profile for active travel, emphasising funding, infrastructure and safety.   WalkCycleVote hopes to contact all candidates in Scotland, with the results on their website, and therefore Spokes will not be attempting to get statements logofrom local candidates.

We urge as many Spokes members as possible – i.e. you! – to contact and try to influence your own candidates.  Please send us any useful replies you receive from them.

Our top 3 ‘asks’

Our top concern is that Edinburgh Council continues its ground-breaking policy of allocating 10% of transport capital and revenue budgets to cycling.  The 10% objective was originally proposed some years ago in Action on Active Travel by the Association of Directors of Public Health, a document endorsed by 110 transport, medical and other professional, expert and interested bodies ranging from the Institute of Highway Engineers to the British Heart Foundation.  It was also adopted long ago by a range of Scottish national transport bodies in Active Travel, Active Scotland and later by newer bodies such as Pedal on Parliament and Walk-Cycle-Vote.

Last December Spokes wrote to all Edinburgh political parties, to try and influence manifestos at an early stage.  Thank you  if  you followed our call to do the same.   By early March two parties – Labour and the Greens – had told us they will definitely promise the 10% (or better) and we hope some other parties may do the same – manifestos will be linked below when they are published.

Our three top issues were…

Other important current questions/topics you could raise with candidates…

  • Overall transport policies – continue the general approach of support for active and public transport, and restraint on private motor traffic, which led to these census results.
  • Leith Street – reduce traffic to 2 lanes so that the planned uphill cycleroute goes to Waterloo Place instead of just to Calton Road
  • Cycleroute plans – the Council has consulted on many cycle schemes [p7 of Bulletin 127] including Meadows-Canal, Canal-Roseburn and many smaller ones, but work has begun on few.  When will work begin?  Is there adequate staffing?
  • Other cycleroute projects – some projects have progressed well, such as Sheffield racks at shopping areas all over the city; but progress seems very slow with secure bike storage and with a city bike-hire scheme, though both are promised.  How can projects be delivered more quickly.

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Candidates who are Spokes members

  • We will happily add any omissions – please let us know
  • We will not add anyone who joins Spokes after this point, though of course they will be listed in a future election if still a member and standing again
  • We do not endorse any candidates – and, of course, there are many other supportive councillors who are not Spokes members.  The choice is yours!

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Candidate views

Party manifestos are probably the most important factor to consider.  However, although individual candidates can be expected to support their party manifesto, they are also individuals with their own views, and this matters too.  If an elected councillor is very supportive of cycling [for example, Spokes members] they may push their party to go further than their manifesto, and they may take other cycling initiatives.  If most councillors are uninterested, then there’s little chance of going beyond manifesto promises, and things can even move backwards.

WalkCycleVote is doing its usual fantastic job asking every known candidate their personal views on 3 key issues, which are very similar to our own 3 top asks.

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Overall manifesto ranking & summary table

  • Tops – Green
  • Excellent – Labour
  • Reasonable – LibDems & SNP
  • Disappointing – Conservative

For a summary table of how the manifestos compare… click here.

A more detailed summary of relevant content from each manifesto is below.

Key to Manifesto Details below

N     Not mentioned in manifesto

++  groundbreaking
+   good
=   mixed/unclear
–   poor (or unrealistic)
—  very disappointing

Italics  are direct manifesto quotes

{ }  is a Spokes comment

Conservative  {Disappointing}

Manifesto…pdfonline link

  • + [p11] Link up current cycle paths across the city centre
  • + [p11] Improve the condition of and extend cycle paths and routes
  • + [p5] Road repairs – higher spending, improved specification & procedures {the amount of increase is unspecified, unlike Labour and SNP manifestos}
  • + [p12] Commit to reducing air pollution
  • –  [p6] 20mph – stop further implementation; review the policy
  • –  [p7] Scrap plans to extend Sunday parking charges in the city centre
  • –  [N]  No mention of a bike hire scheme
  • –  [N]  No mention of Princes Street future
  • — [N]  No specified funding allocation for cycling
Green  {Tops}

Manifestopdfonline link

  • ++ [p9] Continue to spend at least 10% of the transport budget on cycling.
  • + [p9] Clearer vision about the cycling transformation needed, including dedicated and joined-up routes, segregated cycle-ways
  • + [p9] Cycle storage for tenements
  • + [p9] Public bike hire scheme
  • + [p9] High quality design for pedestrians and cyclists in new building and regeneration schemes
  • + [p9] Commit to and enforce 20mph as the normal speed limit within the city and outlying villages
  • ++ [p9] Introduce Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone
  • +  [p9] Introduce a number of days where public transport, cycling and walking are given priority
  • ++ [p6] Redesign Princes Street to put people first and be the most celebrated main street in Scotland
  • + [p9] Tackle the state of roads and pavements by putting in place a Roads Inquiry  and Action Plan – including push government to transfer cash from prestige projects to maintenance
  • ++ [p26] Seek powers from the government to raise funds by levies on workplace and retail parking
  • ++ [p12] Make the City Region Deal green {The City-Region Deal is set to bring huge investment into the area, but its main current focus is “accelerating growth”}
Labour  {Excellent}

Manifestopdfonline link

  • ++ [p8] Maintain spending on cycling at 10% of our transport budget
  • ++ [p8] Create a dedicated budget for walking to install more pedestrian facilities
  • + [p8] Completion of the west-east link across the city centre and build more segregated lanes
  • + [p8]  Introduce a cycle hire scheme
  • ++ [p8]  Introduce a Low Emission Zone in the city
  • + [p8]  Increase spending on roads and pavements (maintenance) to a minimum of £20m per year {this compares to £18.5m for one year in the just approved 17-18 budget}
  • + [p9]  Encourage bottle deposit schemes {this is relevant because, to reduce glass on roads & paths, Spokes supports the national bottle deposit campaign}
  • ++ [p10]  Lobby Scottish Government for powers to introduce a levy on workplace parking spaces
  • – [N]  No mention of Princes Street future
LibDem  {Reasonable}

Manifestopdfonline link

  • + [p4] 10% of the transport budget for walking & cycling {this presumably means under 10% for cycling}
  • + [p4] We will work with others to develop bike-hire schemes
  • + [p4] Ensure that roads and cyclepaths and lanes are well maintained and safe
  • + [p4] Develop more safe bike-storage and investigate developing a grant scheme for this
  • + [p4] A focus on repairing potholes in the city and deteriorating
  • + [p5] Complete the 20mph roll out
  • ++ [p6] Implement Low Emission Zones in parts of the city where polluting vehicles will be prohibited (needs Scottish government permission)
  • – [N]  No mention of on-road segregated cycle routes
  • – [N]  No mention of Princes Street future
SNP  {Reasonable}

Manifestoonline link [there doesn’t appear to be a pdf of the whole document, and there are no page numbers, so references below are to manifesto page names.   We have converted the page called “A mobile Edinburgh” to a pdf here.

  • ++ [mobile] We will commit 10% of our transport budget to cycling
  • + [mobile]  £100m over 5 years to fix roads and pavements {this compares to £18.5m for one year in the just approved 17-18 budget}
  • + [mobile]  To improve air quality & congestion We will work to reduce emissions from the heaviest polluting vehicles, improve access to sustainable transport and work to reduce the number of vehicles coming into Edinburgh from outside the city.
  • + [mobile]  Explore introduction of a rent charge for utility companies to reduce unnecessary utility works.
  • + [greener]  We will pilot bottle … and other deposit schemes.
  • – [N]  No mention of segregated cycle routes {We do believe that the SNP intends to push forward on the west-east route, given the existing all-party agreement on this, and their 10% budget promise, but it is disappointing to see no mention of this or onroad segregated routes in general}.
  • – [N]  No mention of a bike hire scheme
  • – [N]  No mention of Princes Street future

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What you can do

  • Register to vote if you are not already – see the Council links above.  A postal vote is easy to arrange and is particularly convenient if it will be awkward to get to the polling station on 4 May.
  • Email (or speak to) your candidatesFind them (and contact details) here.   There are ideas here, including our 3 main asks.  Please send us copies of any useful responses.
  • Help WalkCycleVote – see ideas here.   There’s also a great 2-page WCV briefing document here.

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Election pages from local councils

Including registering to vote, full lists of local candidates, important dates, etc, etc [some of this will not appear until closer to the election]

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Election hustings – please go along, and ask questions!

[With a very few exceptions we only show events in Edinburgh/Lothian.  There will be an all-Scotland listing of important hustings and other dates on the WalkCycleVote events page.

NOTE: Several of the hustings events include refreshments at the start.  Check the links below for details, and whether the start time includes any refreshments time.

Apr 4, 6pmWomens’ Cycle Forum hustings [Glasgow]

Apr 5, 4pm Dunbar cycle ride with election candidates

Apr 6, 6.45 for 7.30 SPOKES HUSTINGS Tweet (please RT!)

Apr 6, 6pm  Shelter housing hustings  [this is in the same building as our 7.30 hustings, but in the downstairs room]

Apr 12, 7.30Pentland ward hustings by Wester Hailes, Currie and Ratho Community Councils.

Apr 12, 7pm Tollcross Community Council hustings

Apr 12, 7.30 Haddington & Lammermuir [East Lothian] hustings

Apr 12, 7.15pm Leith Walk hustings by Broughton Spurtle [you may need to scroll down the website page to find details]

Apr 18, 7pmDrum Brae/ Gyle ward hustings by @DrumBraeNews

Apr 18, 6pmForth Ward hustings CANCELLED

Apr 18, 6pm Edinburgh World Heritage hustings

April 18,19,20,26,27 … all at 5.30  ‘Everybody’s Edinburgh’ hustings.  One speaker per evening.  18-Labour; 19-SNP; 20-Conservative; 26-Green; 27-LibDem.

Apr 19, 7.30Morningside ward hustings

Apr 19, 7pm for 7.30 Go-Bike hustings [Glasgow]

Apr 19, 6.30pm Leith hustings by Leith Links Community Council

Apr 20, 7pmInverleith Ward hustings by Craigleith and Blackhall Community Council – includes Spokes member Nigel Bagshaw

Apr 21, 7pmFisherrow, Musselburgh hustings

Apr 25, 7pmSustainable Futures hustings by FOE Edinburgh

Apr 25, 7.30pm Murrayfield Community Council hustings [NB – this includes the Roseburn area affected by the West-East cycleroute plans]

Apr 25, 6.30pm Portobello/Craigmillar e-hustings by Portobello Online

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How to vote

No – we are not suggesting who you should vote for!!  And of course you will probably be voting on more than just cycling issues.  However, this section is about the voting system used for council elections, and how to make your vote have the greatest possible effect.

  • In most wards your ballot paper will have between 5 and 10 candidates (including maybe more than one from the same party) from which either 3 or 4 councillors will be elected.   You have to number the candidates 1,2,3,…
  • To make your vote have the maximum possible effect, do number all the candidates, not just those that you like.*  So, for example, the person you least want to be elected gets the last number.  There’s an excellent simple illustration of why it matters here by @hank_chief.
  • ‘Tactical voting’ – you can safely forget about tactical voting, and just rank the candidates in your genuine order of like (and then dislike).   Explanatory note … If your first choice is knocked out, your vote will pass on to your second choice, and so on.  If your first choice has excess votes, then they will be elected and part of your vote will pass to your second choice, and so on.  By the time your ‘vote’ reaches your first ‘dislike’ candidate, all your ‘like’ candidates will have been either elected or eliminated, so you will next be showing who you dislike least.
  • If there are two candidates from the same party, you have to decide which of the two you prefer and number the one you prefer before the other – do not just rely on what order they are in on the ballot paper.
  • If you are really interested in how the system works (the counting method is complex) there’s a full discussion here.

*A couple of people have questioned this advice.   We therefore contacted the Electoral Reform Society (Scotland), who told us…
The voting description you have on your site is very good. Our advice would also be to rank all candidates, as leaving any unranked is equivalent to saying that you rate all of those equally. While this might sometimes be the case, in reality even if there are some candidates one would hate to be elected there are usually still different degrees to this dislike.

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Other useful sites

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