April 2021

Holyrood Election 2021 – everything you want to know!(?)

The Holyrood election on 6 May is approaching and is critical to cycling/transport policies and budgets for the next 5 years.   We’ll tell you here how to make the most of the opportunity in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and give links for all-Scotland information. This page will have more info added as it becomes available.

We support WalkWheelCycleVote (WWCV) – an umbrella group of over 50 organisations working in Scotland to ensure a high profile for active travel and reducing car dependency.   WWCV has contacted virtually all candidates in Scotland, with the results appearing on their website, and therefore Spokes will not be seeking statements from local candidates.

However, we urge as many Spokes members as possible – i.e. you! – to contact and try to influence your own Edinburgh and Lothians candidates. See What You Can Do below Please also send us any useful replies you receive from them.

Top ‘asks’

We fully support the 3 WWCV asks

  • Accessibility: Ensure that our streets, paths and footways are accessible to everyone, whether on foot or using any form of mobility aid; by putting accessibility at the heart of our street design, we will create places everyone can use and enjoy. More…
  • Infrastructure: Create a long-term programme to rebuild our villages, towns and cities around walking, wheeling and cycling, with active travel infrastructure everyone can use – the initial goal should be that every child who wants to can walk, wheel or cycle to their school. More…
  • Investment: Provide the sustained, long-term investment needed to start this transformation of Scotland into a country that enables active travel everywhere – starting at 10%* of the transport budget (the 21/22 figure is 3.5%) and rising to 20% over the course of the parliament. More…

*The 10% objective was originally proposed many 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. With funding in Scotland over the last 5 years having slowly risen from 1.9% to only 3.5%, and with “global warming” having changed to “climate emergency,” we now need much higher active travel investment, along with policies actively to reduce car dependency.

Some ‘difficult’ questions/topics to raise with candidates…
  • The Scottish Government has set a remarkable target to cut car-km 20% by 2030; only 9 years away for such a tough target, but there is still no ‘road map’ and existing policies are all carrot, no stick. Do you agree with this target and how will you achieve it? More info in section 2 here.
  • How far would you go in reallocating kerbside parking spaces or traffic lanes to segregated cycleways and/or wider footways?
  • What spending would you re-allocate so as to substantially increase active travel investment?
  • Bike/Rail – why have the promised 20 bike spaces on the new HST trains from the central belt to Aberdeen/Inverness been cut to 2, and these very hard to use? What will parties do to ensure decent bike carriage on all rail services?

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Candidates who are Spokes members

  • We have checked the full lists of Edinburgh and Lothians candidates, but will happily correct any mistakes
  • 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 also include a link to any mentions of the candidates surname on our website [NB – this picks up one or two links to other people of the same name, but it is obvious where this happens]
  • We do not endorse any candidates.   The choice is yours!

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Election info pages from local councils

Lots of info, including registering to vote, full lists of local candidates, important dates, previous election results, etc, etc [some of this will not appear until closer to the election]

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Manifestos + Candidate views

Candidate Views

Party manifestos (below) 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 greatly too.  If an elected MSP is very supportive they will push their party to go further than their manifesto, and they will take additional cycling initiatives in the Parliament.  If too many MSPs are uninterested, there’s little chance of their party going beyond manifesto promises, and even those may not gain momentum – such as the badly failed 2009 target for 10% of trips to be by bike in 2020!

WalkWheelCycleVote has done a fantastic job asking every known candidate their personal views on the 3 key issues above.  As of 27 April they had received responses from the following % of candidates, by party…

Manifesto Details from the 5 main parties currently in Parliament

Links to the full manifestos… Conservative Green Labour LibDem SNP

Several active and sustainable transport organisations have published relevant extracts from the party manifestos. We link them below…

There are also useful hustings recordings here…

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Manifesto Ranking for Cycling, Active and Sustainable travel

Spokes has produced a comparative table of party manifesto commitments, which you can find here.

Based on the table, we rank the manifestos as follows for cycling and active travel, within a sustainable transport context.

  • Green – best
  • Labour – 2nd best
  • SNP / Lib Dem – roughly equal 3rd
  • Conservative – 5th [it is arguable that this should be a little higher, in view of the investment commitment, which is better than LibDem or SNP. However other relevant policy impacts, for example on traffic reduction, appear to be seriously negative]

Spokes does not recommend who you should vote for. You will have many different considerations, not just transport, and even on transport your views may differ from those in our comparison.

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What you can do

  • Register to vote if you are not already – use the Council links above. Closing date 19 April.
  • A postal vote is easy to arrange via the Council links. Applications for the Holyrood 2021 election are now closed but you can register for future postal votes
  • If you are on twitter, RT one or more of our election tweets … Spokes hustings This article
  • Email (or speak to) your candidatesFind them (and known contact details) here.  We suggest above some points you could raise. Please send us copies of any useful responses.
  • Go to election hustings [not just the Spokes one] and ask questions.  Again, consider the suggestions above.

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Election hustings – please go along, and ask questions!

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Other useful sites

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