Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Weekend Read: Real progress on Cycling and success from Mondays Infrastructure Bill debate

I was able to speak in the Infrastructure debate and set out my short speech below. I am pleased to say that following representations by myself and others we were able to ensure that the Cycling Strategy passed the Commons.
The Guardian report of the debate is here:
The precise wording of the Amendment is set out below. The crucial issue is the amount to be spent as part of a National Budget. There is already significant urban spend - see my speech, the £7 m illion to Newcastle and the successes in London of Boris. But the expectation is of a £10 per person per annual spend on cycling as set out in the debate itself.  

This success is the culmination of a long campaign going back several years:, and my thanks to the many locals in Tynedale who have guided me and helped me along the way, notably Ted Liddle and many others, too numerous to name. 
I well remember speaking in support of the All Party Group for Cycling’s efforts to get long term investment and a strategy. See my speech from 2013 here:

Mondays speech is set out in detail below, with the actual clause of the Bill set out in full below as well:
8.45pm 26/1/15
Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): It has been a long struggle for many of us, and I congratulate hon. Members of all parties on instituting, bringing forward and finally getting Government agreement on the cycling strategy, which I shall briefly address.
We have spoken in various debates over many years to get where we are, but as with all the best cycling strategies, if we stick at it and power on through, the destination is always worth the journey. I congratulate the various cycling groups behind the campaign. Speaking as someone who cycles to work here in Westminster and at home in the great county of Northumberland, I say that whether it be off road in Kielder or taking the highways and the byways, this is without a shadow of a doubt one of our finest assets.
This decision by the Government, and the reaching of cross-party agreement on it, will definitely be welcomed in Northumberland. There is a tremendous desire there for a cycling strategy. We have looked enviously at the city of Newcastle, which has enjoyed £6 million to £7 million of cycling investment. That is wonderful for Newcastle, but has been somewhat to the disadvantage of us in Northumberland. While we now have an integrated strategy, I genuinely feel that there is an opportunity for our constituents to get the cycling strategy that they so enthusiastically require.
Locals have already prepared strategies for Hexham, Prudhoe and other towns in Tynedale and Castle Morpeth. I am pleased to say that Northumberland county council has at last got into gear, and it needs to pitch to the Government for the funding; otherwise the cycling groups in my area will definitely be disappointed and potentially left behind. That is not something that anybody wants.

Let me finish by saying that
- I do not believe we can improve tourism without a cycling strategy;
- I do not think we can improve our health, the obesity problem and pollution without a cycling strategy;
- I do not believe we can improve the cost of living that is an issue for so many people without a cycling strategy;
- and I certainly think we could do great things to improve the quality of life if we had such a strategy."

The amendment that passed is here:
 (1) The Secretary of State may at any time—
(a) set a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England, or
(b) vary a Strategy which has already been set.
(2) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is to relate to such period as the Secretary of State considers appropriate; but a Strategy for a period of more than five years must be reviewed at least once every five years.
(3) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy must specify—
(a) objectives to be achieved during the period to which it relates, and
(b) the financial resources to be made available by the Secretary of State for the purpose of achieving those objectives.
(4) The objectives to be achieved may include—
(a) activities to be performed;
(b) results to be achieved;
(c) standards to be met.
(5) Before setting or varying a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy the Secretary of State must consult such persons as he or she considers appropriate.
(6) In considering whether to vary a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy the Secretary of State must have regard to the desirability of maintaining certainty and stability in respect of Cycling and Walking Investment Strategies.
(7) A Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy must be published in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
(8) Where a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has been published the Secretary of State must from time to time lay before Parliament a report on progress towards meeting its objectives.
(9) If a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is not currently in place, the Secretary of State must—
(a) lay before Parliament a report explaining why a Strategy has not been set, and
(b) set a Strategy as soon as may be reasonably practicable.”

My hope is that very soon we will doing what my friend and Conservative colleague, and fellow cyclist, Boris Johnson, is doing in London: see here -