Edinburgh has seen the first breakthrough in our campaign to allow householders a bike storage container or shed, of an appropriate scale, in their front garden; and in Scotland emails to MSPs from many Spokes members and others have helped ensure a small but worthwhile boost to cycle project funding.
Chances are that neither would have happened without a great deal of effort by concerned individuals, including many Spokes members who followed up ideas in membership circulars* and by some very hard-working supportive politicians.
*Please join Spokes so you don’t miss out on our email and printed circulars to members.
EDINBURGH BIKE SHEDS CAMPAIGN
Councillors on the Planning Committee today overturned an official decision ordering removal of a bike storage unit from a front garden, where the householder had no other option for storing her bike. This follows another decision in the last few days, by a government inspector, to overturn a bike shed removal order for another front garden, provided the shed was reduced in height from 1.7m to 1.5m.
The Spokes campaign on domestic bike storage played a significant part in these successes, with information and support to affected families, and emails to councillors from many concerned individuals. Today’s successful appeal to the Planning Committee was also supported by formal submissions from a dozen or so Spokes members and other people living in the immediate area, and we hugely thank those who took the time to do so.
Nor would these successes have been achieved without a great deal of time and effort by certain councillors – especially Gavin Corbett (Green, Fountainbridge) and Melanie Main (Green, Meadows) but also Jim Orr (SNP, Southside) and Nigel Bagshaw (Green, Inverleith).
The Committee voted 10-4 in favour of the bike storage unit being allowed, with various councillors pointing out that such units are little different in visual impact terms to a wheelie bin, help reduce the car congestion in the area, and generally that allowing it was a “no-brainer.” The motion to overturn the ban was proposed by Cllr Nigel Bagshaw and seconded by Cllr Sandy Howat (SNP, Meadows).
We were also delighted that Edinburgh’s Civic Watchdog, the Cockburn Association, tweeted support for the decision. “The Planning Committee have overturned the recommendation to refuse bike storage in the front garden at Hartington Gardens. We agree.”
This is far from the end of the story – policies now need changed so that it is crystal clear, in writing, that appropriate bike storage sheds/units will be permitted where they conform to agreed guidelines. No longer should householders have to go through the stresses, costs and ridiculous time-wasting of refusals, removal orders, appeals to council committees and government inspectors, and so on, for a modest storage unit or shed.
We are pleased that Spokes has now been invited to work with the council to try and come up with criteria which respect conservation needs but which equally support the council’s hugely ambitious policies to get 10% of all trips (and 15% of commuter trips) by bike by year 2020. The Planning Committee’s decision today, and that of the government inspector above, should help in creating a positive climate for these discussions.
If you have thoughts on this, or are affected, please contact your own councillors [www.writetothem.com] and copy your email to Spokes for information.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT CYCLE FUNDING
The government has announced its intentions for use of the capital funding recently allocated to Scotland as a result of the UK budget Autumn Statement. Along with others, Spokes made a big and urgent effort to get some of this allocated to cycling investment, with our website article and a circular to all emailable Spokes members, asking them to contact their MSPs urgently. Thank you if you wrote – it has worked!
Although the announcement above does not go into much detail, we understand that of the £22m allocated to transport, £3.9m will be for cycling investment, with £2.7m in 13/14 and £1.2m in 14/15. The projects which will benefit have not yet been announced.
A pre-UK-budget Scottish announcement had sought £74.9m for transport, including £3.9m for cycling. It is a measure of our success that although the UK funding package resulted in transport only receiving £22m in total, rather than the government’s wished-for £74.9m, within this cycling got its full £3.9m.
A quick calculation suggests that the £2.7m addition in 13/14 will mean that for the first time ever this government will invest over 1% of its transport budget in cycling – even if it is just 1.01%! – and 5% is the very least needed (and assuming started immediately) to give any hope of the government meeting its 2020 cycle-use target.
We also specially thank Spokes member Alison Johnstone MSP [Lothians, Green] and Jim Eadie MSP [Edinburgh Southern, SNP] who took this up at a face-to-face meeting with government Finance Secretary John Swinney, the man with the purse strings. Their efforts to persuade Mr Swinney were greatly helped by the many emails on this subject to ordinary MSPs from constituents, all of which feed into Mr Swinney’s decision-making process.