April 2022

#SpokesMtg: 2022 Council Hustings – Report

Our March 28 Virtual Hustings was attended by over 70 people, with almost all staying through the whole 2-hour meeting, a testament to the excellent QA in the second half of the meeting.

A full video of the meeting is here, so this article is not a blow-by-blow account of the meeting, but instead picking out some points of interest. Check out the video for the full story!

Top conclusion from the meeting

Perhaps the top conclusion, mentioned frequently throughout the meeting, and by nearly all the speakers in their summing up, was the importance of making cycling conditions safer and more welcoming for the many groups who feel less confident and are currently under-represented. For example: families, women, disabled people, children, the economically disadvantaged … so that the demographics of those who cycle becomes closer to that of the population as a whole.


We had candidates from the 5 main parties on Edinburgh City Council. Whichever ward you live in, you’ll have one or more candidates from each of these parties – and indeed the same is true for East Lothian and West Lothian, though in Midlothian the Lib Dems are only contesting 3 of the 6 wards.

Our party representatives were…

  • Conservative Cllr Cameron Rose [Southside/Newington] former Conservative group leader, the longest serving councillor on the panel, and a Spokes member some years ago
  • Greens Cllr Claire Miller [City Centre], Spokes member, Green transport spokesperson
  • Labour Cllr Scott Arthur [Colinton/Fairmilehead], Spokes member, formerly on Edinburgh Council Transport Committee
  • Lib Dem Sanne Dijkstra-Downie [Forth], the only candidate who has not yet been a councillor, Scottish LibDem spokesperson for Net Zero
  • SNP Cllr Lesley Macinnes [Liberton/Gilmerton] Convenor of the Edinburgh Council Transport Committee

All speakers had significant personal experience of getting around by bike, and were able to relate their experiences to the issues and policies which are important in making Edinburgh a more bike-friendly city. These personal experiences included…

  • the value of cycling for physical and mental health wellbeing in difficult times
  • the scariness of Edinburgh traffic conditions and the need for continuous bike routes, including at junctions
  • the value of e-bikes in expanding the categories of people who cycle, and the destinations which can be reached
  • the importance of pothole-free roads and cycle lanes

Although there was a lot of agreement between the speakers, the fact that they could relate to personal experience, and to what they had picked up from constituents and friends, meant that their agreement was a stimulating experience, rather than being repetitive.

Summings up

Each speaker was given 1 minute to sum up their thoughts at the end of the meeting, in reverse surname order. See the video for full & exact wording, but, briefly…

Cameron Rose, Conservative

It is not easy to improve a city, so compromise is vital and we should avoid telling people what to do. The most important thing that can be done for cycling is high quality pothole-free road surfaces.

Claire Miller, Green

It was hopeful to hear the emphasis on demand management in questions, as both carrot and stick are needed. The Council should keep an active travel focus on minority groups, children, disabled people, etc – a city which works for them will work for everyone.

Lesley Macinnes, SNP

We need more of the same, a holistic policy as in the City Mobility Plan. It is important to listen to people, but the Council must push through change, particularly bearing in mind the 45% of the population who don’t have access to a car and who are usually under-represented in consultation responses

Sanne Dijkstra-Downie, LibDem

The perception of risk must be tackled, especially for the less confident groups, to help achieve equality and diversity. Achieving modal shift is vital and must be achieved, for reasons of environment, health and the cost of travel for individuals

Scott Arthur, Labour

By the end of the next Council term, the population who cycles must be a better reflection of the diversity of the population. Secondly the Council must work more effectively with neighbouring Councils, whose actions now are pouring more and more cars into the city.

Ewen Maclean, Chair of the QA

It was great to hear the consensus on catering better for disempowered groups – particularly children, who are our future and whose rights now, under the UN Charter for the Rights of the Child, are enshrined in law. There were many other questions, and time ran out, but several were on the climate crisis, the tackling of which is an absolute necessity … we can and must contribute to this, and achieving the promised 20% (Scotland) and 30% (Edinburgh) reduction in car-km by 2030 is a vital component.

Deciding your vote

Introducing the reasons for holding the meeting, Dave du Feu of Spokes suggested that your decision how to vote should be based on 3 factors…

  • Party manifestos matter greatly because the chances are that the promises in them (to do X, or to not do Y) will be kept. However, they are far from the whole story…
    • For example, unexpected events may affect what Councils can – or must – do. The biggest recent example, of course, is covid. No party manifesto at the previous, 2017, election promised 40km of semi-segregated main road cycleroutes, yet that huge step forward happened! – due to covid and the resulting dedicated funding from the Scottish Government
    • Topics may be not mentioned in manifestos – perhaps taken for granted, or perhaps too controversial for the party to agree a stance. In this case, the party could go either way as events take their course, and there will be a lot of scope for lobbying.
  • Individual candidates can also be a big factor in your decision
    • A supportive candidate may take personal initiatives locally or in the Council. A candidate who is uninterested is unlikely to do anything beyond their party’s manifesto
  • The voting system for Scottish council elections is the Single Transferable Vote (STV), where you number candidates in order of preference. A vital point is…
    • To give your vote its maximum power, it is important to number every candidate, putting your top favourite first and your most disliked last. You are then helping choose who is not elected as well as who is elected! More on this in How to Vote in our elections article.

Meeting Resources

Thank you

  • Many thanks to Cycling UK for providing the webinar software and support

What you can do next

  • See our full article on the election – including links to manifestos (when they are published), other local hustings we hear about in Edinburgh and Lothians, and lots of other useful info.  This article will be updated as we get more info.  Please do go to any local hustings in your area, and let us know of any that are not already on our website.
  • See the  #WalkWheelCycleVote website for details of many individual candidates in any council in Scotland; and more ideas on what you can do to support the case for active travel.
  • Retweet the tweets about this article and about our comprehensive elections article.

Comments are closed.