Newcastle City Council Elections 3 May 2018

Elections for Newcastle City Council are due to be held on 3 May 2018, with new ward boundaries as a result of the recent Local Government Boundary Review.

Gosforth is now split across four wards: Fawdon and West Gosforth, Gosforth, Dene and South Gosforth, and Parklands. Each of these new wards will be represented by three councillors and voters in each ward can vote for up to three candidates.

With lots of new faces we’re keen to find out what the candidates think, in particular about how they plan to address transport-related issues in our community. To do that we’ve come up with five statements or pledges and we have asked each of the candidates whether they support these or if not what they plan to do instead.

Below the candidate’s responses, which we’ll update as they are received, we have also written a bit of background about why we have chosen these particular statements.

Please keep checking back in advance of the elections on 3 May and if one of your candidates has not yet answered please do encourage them to do so. The very least we should expect from future local councillors is a willingness to engage with local residents and share their vision for the future of Gosforth.

THE SPACE FOR GOSFORTH PLEDGES

The five pledges we have asked candidates to support are:

1. Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.

2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.

3. Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.

4. Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.

5. Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.

Please see below for more on why we have chosen these pledges and what they mean in practice.


RESPONSES

Candidates are listed in the same order as on the Newcastle City Council local election website.

We are currently in the process of contacting candidates. Where a response is shown as a link, please click on the link for further details of the candidates response.

Dene and South Gosforth Ward

Candidate Party Response
 Nick Arnold Labour Party
Simon Barnes Labour Party
Michael Bell Labour Party
Jason Birt Conservative Party
Heather Chambers Conservative Party
Henry Gallagher Liberal Democrats
Joe Herbert Green Party ü Support
Gerry Langley Conservative Party
David Muat UKIP
Karen Robinson Liberal Democrats
Wendy Taylor Liberal Democrats

Fawdon and West Gosforth Ward

Candidate Party Response
Steve Axford Conservative Party
Mick Bowman Labour Party
Elizabeth Cook Labour Party
Nick Cott Liberal Democrats
Brenda Hindmarsh Liberal Democrats
Sandy Irvine Green Party   ü  Support
Peter Lovatt Liberal Democrats
Wiliam Price-Green Conservative Party
Shumel Rahman Labour Party
Scott Wakeman Conservative Party

Gosforth Ward

Candidate Party Response
Colin Ferguson Liberal Democrats
Alistair Ford Green Party
Hilary Franks Labour Party
Philip Hall Liberal Democrats
Stoica Ion Labour Party
Steve Kyte Conservative Party
Jane Streather Labour Party
Marie Summersby Conservative Party
Alison Wake Conservative Party
Tom Woodwark Liberal Democrats

Parklands Ward

Candidate Party Response
Pauline Allen Liberal Democrats
Robin Ashby Liberal Democrats
Simon Bell Conservative Party
John Dobie Conservative Party
John Dockerty Independent
David Down Liberal Democrats
John Hall Independent
Frances Hinton Green Party
Karen Jewers Conservative Party
Geoff O’Brien Labour Party
Susan Pearson Labour Party
Louise Sutcliffe Labour Party

 

WHY HAVE WE CHOSEN THESE PLEDGES?

Pledge 1. Streets that are safe, and feel safe, for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.

Everyone should be able to travel safely whether they walk, cycle, use public transport or drive and should feel safe while they do so, but this isn’t currently the case in Gosforth. Often, traffic is fast and heavy, which is intimidating to many people.

Children are less able to look out for themselves and are more likely to be injured or even killed in the event of a collision, so focusing on children, whether travelling independently or with an adult, is a good way to make Gosforth safer for everyone.

Children are also more vulnerable to air pollution and children driven to school can be subject to up to ten times worse air quality than children who walk or cycle, and the extra vehicles make it harder for everyone else who needs to drive. Children who walk or cycle also get the benefit of the exercise – with the NHS recommending that children need at least 60 minute of moderate or vigorous exercise every day.

When we say streets ‘that are safe and feel safe’ we mean streets where children can and do walk and cycle to school, to shops or to the park, and where parents feel comfortable to let them. Ultimately it will be for local residents, and in particular parents, to judge whether a street is safe for their children to walk and cycle. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local parents to determine what is needed to achieve this objective.

While it is right that children are the priority, the map below shows the locations of where 248 people have been killed or seriously injured in the north of Newcastle in the last 10 years (2008-2017). As with other UK cities including Liverpool and Edinburgh we hope Newcastle will also adopt a “Vision Zero” target i.e. zero deaths or serious injuries on Newcastle’s roads.

Crash-map showing locations of 248 people killed or seriously injured in the north of Newcastle 2008-2017

Pledge 2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.

In the last official figures from 2016, both City Centre and Gosforth Air Quality Management Areas were in breach of the legal limits that should have been met by 2010. Bringing air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible is actually a legal requirement and Newcastle City Council has been mandated by DEFRA to produce a plan to do this by the end of 2018. Our expectation is that legal limits in Newcastle can be achieved by 2020 however that will depend on the detailed modelling currently being undertaken by the Council.

Air pollution affects everyone but it affects the young and the old the most. In Newcastle it has been estimated that 124 lives are lost every year as a result of illegal air pollution just for nitrogen dioxide with particulate matter likely to be responsible for more still. As well as causing early deaths, air pollution is also known to be a major cause of heart disease, lung disease, cancer and has been shown to be responsible for birth defects and cognitive delay in children.

In a recent report, the Royal College of Physicians has recommended that to protect public health, the UK adopt even more ambitious targets than the current legal limits and we hope Newcastle will adopt and work towards meeting those more challenging targets.

Given this is a legal requirement that the Council must meet we expect all candidates will sign up to this pledge.

Official 2016 Air Quality Measurements from the South Gosforth Air Quality Management Area

Pledge 3. Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out without fear of traffic.

Streets aren’t just about movement of traffic. They are also where we live, shop and socialise, and for children also where they are most likely to play outside near their homes.

Many streets in Gosforth are suitable for children to play out but many are not. We’ve seen and published data showing that some residential streets in Gosforth that aren’t designed or intended for through traffic have high volumes of vehicles, sometimes averaging three or more every minute throughout the day, with a high proportion travelling in excess of the speed limit. As a result we don’t see as many children playing out as we might expect and certainly a lot fewer than we when were children ourselves. Parents cannot be blamed for keeping their children indoors with such high volumes of traffic.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods with streets that are safe for children are better for everyone with less noise, less danger and cleaner air.  It’s even been shown that people living on streets with less traffic have more friends and a better social life than those that live on streets with heavy traffic. This is no laughing matter when loneliness is now considered such a serious issue that the Government has appointed a Minister for Loneliness to create a national loneliness strategy.

As with pledge 1, it will be for local residents to judge whether a street is pleasant, safe and attractive and where children can play out without fear of traffic. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local residents who have concerns about  traffic-related issues to look at options for how this objective can be met for their street.

Graph showing traffic volumes on Linden Road with a high proportion of speeding vehicles (brown and red).

Pledge 4. Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.

If Pledges 1-3 are to mean anything there must be some meaningful and urgent action as a result. Often changes involving traffic are controversial with long and heated debates about the likely consequences of a change. Yet other cities have shown that there is a different way, with trial interventions that can be implemented quickly that let people experience what will happen without any permanent commitment being made.

Using trials as part of a range of interventions helps inform the debate as people can see the benefits for themselves, and if there are issues with the trial then they can be stated factually with councillors and residents then able to work together to resolve or mitigate those issues.

Clearly not all issues can be resolved straight away but we hope to work with Councillors  and other members of the community to identify and prioritise the areas of greatest concern, where trials might receive the most support and have the greatest benefit.

Pledge 5. Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.

Making streets safer and cutting air pollution should be objectives that everyone supports, but it is still important that the council and local councillors engage with the community to ensure that residents understand what the issues are and have a chance to help solve those issues. Air pollution in particular is invisible and we’ve found that many people haven’t been aware that it has been, and continues to be, a problem in Gosforth. Nor are people generally aware of the very serious health impact of sedentary lifestyles which cost taxpayers billions of pounds every year and are responsible for even more early deaths than air pollution.

Likewise it is often challenging to put ourselves in others’ shoes, to understand for example what it is like to be a child on Gosforth’s streets, what it is like to be a parent cycling or walking with children (or even alone) on busy streets during the rush hour, or what it is like for residents or visitors with disabilities or conditions for whom travel is a challenge. It is only by having this broad engagement that we can ensure that Gosforth’s streets are safe and accessible for everyone.


These five pledges are based on SPACE for Gosforth’s objectives which you can see here. They don’t cover all the SPACE for Gosforth objectives but we welcome input from candidates about how they will go about meeting other aspects of those objectives to make streets in Gosforth more healthy, liveable, accessible and safe for everyone of all ages and abilities.

If you don’t live in Gosforth please feel free to ask your local candidates to support these pledges as well. We know very well that Gosforth isn’t the only area that suffers from these issues.

You can follow SPACE for Gosforth on Facebook or Twitter. If you support the SPACE for Gosforth objectives please do join us. Information about how to join SPACE for Gosforth is here.

2 thoughts on “Newcastle City Council Elections 3 May 2018

  1. Sandy Irvine (Green Party candidate)

    I fully endorse the Space for Gosforth pledges. Indeed I think we need more radical action. Current council plans for more urban sprawl north of the city, for instance, will only put more traffic on already overcrowded roads. The obsession with keeping traffic moving also encourages people to stick to private car movements. It also led to the shameful plan for the mega-roundabout at the Blue House. The reduction of unsustainable traffic levels will also require a high quality, affordable and integrated public transport system. We must also pay more attention to the needs of pedestrians, doing more walking a more attractive and safer option. We underestimate the extent that shops and cafes depend on business from pedestrians and cyclists. It is good that the latter group is beginning to get a better deal though we have far to go to catch up with leaders in field such as the Netherlands.
    Regarding Gosforth High Street itself the aim must be to make an attractive ‘destination’. Currently, it is treated more as a corridor. We also need enforcement officers to be more active on the High Street and not just on side streets. Too often vehicles parked on double yellow lines dangerously block necessary ‘sight lines’ and force to swerve out.
    Overall we must abandon the goal of economic growth, embracing the notion of a ‘steady-state economy’. Otherwise we will be back to square one in terms of congestion, pollution, lost green spaces and so forth, whatever (real) good that traffic calming and switches in transport modes might achieve in the short term. I have been active on all these issues, not the least with regards the council’s Core Strategy ‘development’ plan as well as specific issues such as the ‘red route’ controversy, as local media coverage reflects.

    Reply
  2. SPACE for Gosforth Post author

    Response received from Joe Herbert – Green Party candidate for Dene and South Gosforth

    I fully support the pledges proposed by Space for Gosforth, and the positive directions they seek to pursue. These pledges represent issues which I feel strongly about both in a personal capacity as a resident of Gosforth, and as a representative of the Green Party, whose policies and vision for greener communities resonate strongly with the principles articulated by Space.

    In Gosforth, and throughout Newcastle for that matter, we ought to be pursuing safer, healthier and more enjoyable neighbourhoods. We need urgent and meaningful action to pursue these pledges, in light of the illegal levels of pollution present in community, created by heavy levels of through-traffic. The balance of priority in Gosforth at present is weighted too greatly in favour of motor vehicles, at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. The safety and enjoyment of key streets in the community where people socialise, work, and shop, such as Gosforth High Street and Station Road, are being compromised by high levels of fast-moving traffic. It is deeply unfair and immoral that children walking to school – and any pedestrians for that matter – are subjected to highly dangerous air pollution levels which create long-term health problems. Another notable issue is the blockage of already minimal cycle lanes by parked cars on the High street, which poses a danger of collision to both cyclists and motorists.

    With the proliferation of urban sprawl development on Newcastle’s northern green belt, problems of heavy traffic flow through Gosforth will only increase if action is not taken. Instead of the continual growth of this traffic flow, we need to work to slow and decrease it. Vital to this task is the provision of an efficient and affordable public transport system, the development of safer and more comprehensive cycling infrastructure, and ensuring safe and low-pollution pedestrian routes. The priority should be that Gosforth is a safe and enjoyable place in which to live, rather than a fast route to and from central Newcastle.

    A key factor which should be added to important arguments made in Space’s pledges is the environmental damage caused by high levels of traffic and heavily congested roads. The air pollution this produces is detrimental to our health at a local level, but also to our environment on a global level. Large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions produced by heavy traffic contribute to the long-term warming of global temperatures beyond safe levels, exacerbating the damaging impacts of climate change. Therefore, by creating safer, healthier and more enjoyable communities, we can also play an important local role in tackling the threat of climate change, and moving towards greener, sustainable ways of living. It is for these reasons that I believe Space for Gosforth’s pledges are to the benefit of the community as a whole.

    Many thanks,

    Joe Herbert – Green Party candidate for Dene and South Gosforth

    Reply

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