City Council Elections 2018
There are elections for the Council happening in Newcastle on the 3rdMay 2018. This year new ward boundaries are being introduced, and Jesmond residents have three votes to elect candidates in their ward.
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 Jesmond.
THE SPACE FOR JESMOND PLEDGES
The five pledges we have asked candidates to support are:
- Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
- Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
- Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.
- Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.
- 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.
We are contacting all the candidates and will post their responses below when we receive them. The candidates are listed in the order they appear on the Statement of Persons Nominated on the City Council website
NORTH JESMOND WARD
|James Bartle||Conservative Party|
|David Besag||Liberal Democrats||Partial Support|
|James Cowling||Conservative Party|
|Alexander Hay||Labour Party||Support|
|Gerry Keating||Liberal Democrats||Partial Support|
|Kitty Lau||Conservative Party|
|Shehla Naqvi||Green Party||Support|
|Stella Postlethwaite||Labour Party||Support|
|Crispin Welby||Liberal Democrats||Partial Support|
|Wendy Young||Labour Party||Support|
SOUTH JESMOND WARD
|Arlene Ainsley||Labour Party||Support|
|Clare Andrews||Green Party||Support|
|Deborah Burns||Liberal Democrats|
|Max Graham||Conservative Party|
|Mark Keville||Liberal Democrats|
|Martin Levy||Communist Party of Britain||Support|
|Alexandra Logan||Liberal Democrats|
|Ian MacGlip||Conservative Party|
|Felicity Mendelson||Labour Party||Support|
|Christopher Murray||Conservative Party|
|Judy Pearce||Labour Party||Support|
|Tony Waterston||Green Party||Support|
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 Jesmond. Often, traffic is fast and it isn’t always easy to see due to the high level of kerbside parking and high sided vehicles.
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 Jesmond 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 people have been killed or seriously injured in the Jesmond area 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.
Pledge 2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
In the last official figures from 2016, both Gosforth and City Centre Air Quality Management Areas (which stretches along Jesmond Road to Heaton) 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.
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.
Some streets in Jesmond are suitable for children to play out but many are not. Jesmond is permeable to motor traffic wishing to avoid the Coast Road (A1058 Jesmond Road) and since the closure of Jesmond Dene Road rat-running occurs through residential streets. Similarly, Osborne Road – a residential street – is used as a “relief valve” for traffic on the Great North Road, despite electoral candidates for Jesmond agreeing in 2014 that Osborne Road should be for access only.
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.
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 Jesmond. 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 Jesmond’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 Jesmond’s streets are safe and accessible for everyone.
These five pledges are based on SPACE for Jesmond’s objectives* which you can see on our home page. We welcome input from candidates about how they will go about meeting other aspects of those objectives to make streets in Jesmond more healthy, liveable, accessible and safe for everyone of all ages and abilities.
Our thanks go to our neighbouring group, SPACE for Gosforth, in helping to put this information together.
*Please note that at the time of writing our objectives are temporary and may be further refined to reflect Jesmond’s specific needs.
April 18, 2018 - 1:46 pm
Dear Edward, I wholeheartedly support the 3 objectives However I am not supportive of the strategy of do now and consult later ,nor do I think it will work.Finally before commenting on the last point I would like to know what precisely constitutes “constructive”
I have 2 other points.There were 2 elections in 2014 and I presume that your comment relates to the first.There was no agreement at the second that Osborne Rd.should be access only.Then and now I am opposed to this.Finally I stopped driving in 1997 when I became a member of Tyne and Wear P.T.E. and now use a bicycle regularly.I am sorry to report that a lot of the apprehension I experience in the city is caused by my fellow bike users and their indiscipline.
April 19, 2018 - 12:40 pm
I fully support all five pledges. My comments are below:
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
1) I believe passionately that streets should be safe for children to walk and cycle to school. This is not the case at present but it would not be difficult to make the streets safe firstly by a street closure outside primary schools during the school run and second by the provision of protected cycle lanes on key routes to school
2) It is a scandal that such limited measures have been taken to curb air pollution. this is particularly dangerous around schools and call for a street closure during the school run as above. There should also be measures to promote park and ride and to curb rat runs in residential areas.
3) Play streets should be promoted widely in all residential areas and through traffic should be discouraged as much as possible, the planting of trees and provision of pocket parks should also be encouraged
4) fully agree
5) The council could do much more to provide key information on the harmful effects of air pollution and the benefits of more traffic free neighbourhoods, recognising that restricting motor traffic will initially be unpopular.
Green Party candidate for South Jesmond
April 20, 2018 - 8:24 am
On behalf of the Communist Party, I am happy to say that we support the 5 pledges. However, in practical terms some may be difficult to achieve. For example, as long as public transport is seen as expensive and unreliable, and buses are not integrated with Metro services, there will continue to be an over-reliance on private transport, and therefore it will be difficult to achieve targets of improving air quality.
April 20, 2018 - 8:25 am
I’m delighted to sign up to each of these pledges and I’m sending some information about the commitment your Labour candidates has to making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists as well as improving air quality across the city.
I’ve included some information about what the Labour Council has done to address some of the issues but please get in touch if you need any further details.
Pledge 1 : Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park
We, as Labour candidates, fully support this pledge and the work the Labour Council have done in the City should demonstrate this. There is a dedicated Road Safety Manager who works with schools across the city to develop School Travel Plans. These ensure that all children are able to walk and cycle to school wherever possible.
There has also been a recent launch of a Play Streets Initiative whereby residents can apply to have their street closed to traffic for a few hours so that children can play in a traffic–free street.
The Streets for People (S4P) programme is an excellent example of how the Council have engaged with residents to identify areas where there are problems and work to find solutions. 3 areas of the City (Heaton/Ouseburn, Jesmond and Fenham) each have £1m to spend on making improvements to make it easier to walk and cycle in their area.
Pledge 2 : Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible
The vision of the Labour Council is that is one of the cleanest, greenest and most innovative cities in Northern Europe and ensuring that the city has clean air is fundamental to achieving this vision. National Government has been challenged by a range of organisations and in July 2017 published the Air Quality Plan. This Plan identified 3 areas of the city which exceeded the recommended levels of NO2 and Newcastle City Council is working with neighbouring authorities to address this problem to ensure compliance with EU Air Quality directives within the shortest possible time. However, it is felt that air quality is improved across the whole city and to achieve this the Labour Council has:
Created the first ever Cabinet role for Air Quality
Have a council fleet of electric vehicles (including the Lord Mayor’s car)
Introduced smart traffic signals in the city centre
Overseen the introduction of Mobike, a dockless cycle hire scheme
Installed the first ever moss tree in England
Gained £3.3m to improve buses operating in the City to Euro 6 standard
Improved cycling infrastructure with funding from the Cycle City Ambition Fund.
Pledge 3 : Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out without fear of traffic.
I accept that streets aren’t just about movement of traffic but that they are also where we live, shop and socialise, and for children also where they are most likely to play outside near their homes.
As stated in the response to Pledge 1 we have seen the introduction of the Play Streets Initiative as well as having introduced a 20MPH speed limit in residential streets across the city.
There is also a Healthy Streets Board which brings together representatives from various organisations including Public Health to discuss the introduction of initiatives to make our streets healthier and safer places to be. The Labour Council has also signed up to the Newcastle Streets Charter which aims to address street issues and raise public awareness of the impact these issues have on a range of street users including those with mobility problems and visual impairment.
Pledge 4 : Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.
Newcastle City Council always aim to introduce improvements as speedily as possible although we must operate within a legal framework which outlines the timeframe for things like consultation periods.
Labour Councils very keen to introduce trials interventions and agree that these can inform debate and will always listen to resident’s concerns, introducing mitigation measures where appropriate
The time it takes to introduce some measures can be frustrating but introducing such measures as double-shift operations (such as seen at the recent works on Barrass Bridge) can speed the implementation of some schemes
These temporary changes can be used as a means to gain data on air quality, road safety, congestion and travel times with a view to using this data when considering permanent changes.
Pledge 5 : Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.
Newcastle City Council are completely committed to constructive community engagement and this has been referred to in the responses to some of your previous pledges.
Schemes such as Streets for People, which has undergone a comprehensive consultation and Newcastle Street Charter which saw consultation with many community groups are good examples of this.
There is also the Transport Forum which includes representatives from pedestrian groups, cycle groups, older people’s groups and disability groups. There are regular consultations with the Elders Council, RNIB, Guide Dogs Association and other voluntary organisations on proposals.
April 23, 2018 - 11:12 am
I’m happy to support pledges four of the five pledges. However, I have misgivings about the pledge “Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.”
I’ve been in politics long enough to remember the fiasco of Going for Growth in the East End and West End of Newcastle. This was making a decision and then consulting on it. Furthermore, this also happened with the original plans for the Blue House roundabout. While of course any schemes in Jesmond will be smaller scale you need to work with local residents in advance. They will know the issues better.
April 23, 2018 - 12:53 pm
Thank you for your considered response. The idea about using a trial approach – and without long delays – is so that either a) a set of proposed options can be examined in a real-world situation or b) more information can be gathered about the impact of an intervention. This can be done before permanent infrastructure is installed. So, for example, a road closure, one-way system or perhaps simply enhanced pedestrian crossing facilities (such as a build out) can be implemented using removable objects like planters or a “street kit.” This temporary approach can help everyone understand the benefits and drawbacks of both the current situation and the proposed one.
April 23, 2018 - 12:42 pm
Thank you for asking me to comment on your 5 points.
I reply as follows:-
Your 1.Not just children but all pedestrians. Are cyclists (including
members of SPACE Jesmond) going to contribute to this aim?
Your 2 Yes I support this. It is a pity that these measurements were
not available in 1950 when we had more factories and fewer cars.
Your 3.I support this down to the last 5 words, viz:”Where children
can play out” I have no objection for any play street provided that
the initiative comes from below. ie the street concerned. I will not
support it if suggested by Council etc. Costs to be borne by the
street concerned As an example of what I mean by initiative from below
consider my street Ashleigh Grove. If residents come to me for a
request for street closure and a temporary formation of a play street
I would reject it. This is because children in Ashleigh Grove could be
supervised across Highbury to play on the Playfield which is an
extension of the Town Moor. The children on the front of a recent
Jesmond Voice (a Labour Party document) were some of my grandchildren.
I have no bother with this and I much enjoyed the sausages which
included my invitation!. It was clear that those parents who were
present enjoyed the occasion and felt that they were winning
something. Grandchildren were happy with the sausages and for a while
afterwards. They noticed that there was no playing with electronic
toys and games.
Your 4.No. This is merely an attempt to steam roll changes such as
Streets For People which are currently under discussion. Will you be
honest and send a follow-up to this appeal and say which of S4P you or
SPACE Jesmond support?
Your 5. I’m not sure what you want to achieve with this. So no,
April 23, 2018 - 1:20 pm
Thank you for your considered response.
Re: Pledge 3: “Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.”
We believe that residential streets should be safe for street play. This does not mean a designation, temporarily or permanently, as a “play street” or implementation of a coordinated road closure under the newly introduced council policy for Play Streets. Whilst some streets are clearly not suited for this (for example, there are residences on Jesmond Road / Coast Road but this is clearly not suitable for children to play on under any circumstances), this pledge should be taken as read – street should be places where children can play out. Too many residential streets in Jesmond suffer from high traffic speed and volume from vehicles avoiding distributor roads.
Re: Pledge 4: Please see response to Dave Besag. As a member of the reference group you will know we have no capability within Streets for People Jesmond other than to advocate for effective use of funding which is already ring-fenced for improving cycling and walking in Jesmond. Proposing a trial approach is a way to ensure effective use of such funding.
Re: Pledge 5: We believe that local Councillors should have a good understanding of, and be able to voice their support for, local measures which address issue such as road safety, children’s independent mobility and health issues.
April 24, 2018 - 9:59 am
I give my support to all five SPACEforJesmond pledges. I have added my comments below.
Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
Making streets safe for everyone to walk or cycle is a high priority. Having in the past lived in a Vision Zero city, I have seen first-hand the many benefits from measures to promote safer streets. I support protected cycle lanes and reduced traffic speeds on key routes, and schemes for road closure outside primary schools during the school run. We can work with schools to organise ‘walking buses’ and ‘cycle trains’ using these routes, accompanied where necessary by ‘park and stride’ arrangements and promoting car sharing. Cycle lane and cycle box provision badly needs extending into the Sandyford area of South Jesmond, and driver awareness campaigns could help improve safety and reduce pollution. We can also work with local businesses to benefit from schemes such as ‘park that bike’ to expand cycle parking locally.
Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
Stronger action is urgently needed to tackle air pollution in our neighbourhoods. Starting points should include road closures during the school run, with park and stride/park and ride initiatives to incentivise access to the local area by public transport or on foot throughout the day. Supporting local schools and businesses to create and adopt ‘green walls’ and ‘pocket parks’ can help to ameliorate pollution locally, as well as making our neighbourhood more attractive and biodiverse. I wish to see electric vehicle charging points spread beyond the city centre, with more parking incentives for low-pollution or car club vehicles.
Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.
I would encourage ‘Playing Out’ timed street closures in our neighbourhood, which research shows helps in building community links. Litter can threaten the appearance and safety of our streets, and households need clearer information on waste collection, as well as bin collection reminder services, along with better engagement via our universities and schools. As a Green, I’m passionate about tackling the roots of these problems – for example working with local businesses to reduce waste. More ‘pocket parks’ can be developed in collaboration with local community groups, and even small additions such as seating can help residents to socialise in their streets and green spaces.
Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.
I am a keen supporter of evidence-based policy and believe trial schemes implemented in collaboration with the local community would be valuable in assessing the effectiveness of proposed interventions allow measures to be refined in dialogue with residents so as to mitigate any concerns. Early consultation is key to finding workable solutions for our different local interests.
Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel
The Green Party has been active in publicising the health impacts of air pollution and health benefits of walking and cycling, since this is key to overcoming initial resistance to the necessary changes in car use. We should to tackle this via visible advertising in public spaces, campaigns via local and social media, along with community engagement through schools, community groups, health providers and relevant businesses like sports facilities and transport providers. High profile health-oriented events like the Park Run, Great North Run and children’s activity clubs also offer constructive platforms for engagement to promote healthier transport choices.
I’m very pleased to see SPACE groups proliferating across our city!