Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Portsmouth Cycle Forum is a group for anyone who cycles, or wants to cycle, in and around Portsmouth UK.

Police and Crime Commissioner elections are coming - does your candidate support cycling?

Police and Crime Commissioner elections are coming - does your candidate support cycling?

Our Committee members are an active bunch. One of them is also involved in leading efforts to improve cycling across the wider county of Hampshire. He recently dropped an email to the four candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections coming up on 6th May. 

He asked each candidate the same two questions. Responses are provided in exactly the same words as received from each candidate.

We hope this gives you a bit more information to make an informed decision for your vote on Thursday 6th May.

The Q&A

  1. Over the last 5 years there has been a steady, and in some instances worrying increase in the number of vulnerable road users (Equestrians, Pedestrians, Motorcyclists, Cyclists) injured on our highways and byways, and under lockdown a significant number more people have been encouraged to travelling “actively” to schools, work, and shops, and will continue to do so to reduce congestion and demands on the scant public transport that we have.  Given that Hampshire was, using the Government’s own 2019 data, identified as “the most dangerous counties to ride a cycle in”, this has potential to lead to a significant further increase in vulnerable road users killed and injured in 2021 and beyond. For context, 168 Vulnerable road users have lost their lives in Hampshire’s from Jan 2015 to Dec 2019, with another 9,873 injured. Obviously, the Road Danger isn’t just felt by vulnerable road users, but it does seem to be disproportionately borne by them.

What, and how,  would you intend to do to reduce the dangers on our roads to reduce (and ideally prevent further) loss of life and life changing impacts on our community?  

Steve James-Bailey - Hampshire Independents candidate

This is a big ask for the Candidate PCC who is yet to get his feet under the table.  Of the many many many important issues alongside yours, somewhere there will need to be some prioritisation.

I totally understand where you are coming from.  As a fellow mountain biker on and off road, I have come across a few scrapes and near misses.

69 % of our survey response  says that excess speeding is a problem on residential estates.  This would quite easily be similar to open roads and countryside settings.

Dangerous driving, excess speeding, inconsiderate driving are just totally unacceptable and something I would most definitly be looking at and giving strong consideration to what action should be undertaken.

Donna Jones - Conservative Party Candidate

Thank you for contacting me about this important issue and making me aware of the groups you represent. 

In answer to the first question, ‘what will I do to prevent death and danger to vulnerable road users’. 

Speeding traffic is one of the biggest causes of death and serious injuries particularly to cyclists. I have sons that ride daily and I am often fearful of their safety. Living on the outskirts of a city means the roads are always busy. 

Having spent time out across the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the last few months, the one recurring issue that towns, cities, villages raise with me, if speeding traffic and or issues created by inconsiderate or dangerous road users. I am cornering setting up a ‘Hampshire Roads Task Force’ meeting which would meet monthly. This would include the head of the Hants Police road policing team, Hampshire County Council highways team, the lead cabinet member and me. Any problem roads, junctions or incidents would be referred to this committee for consideration. At the moment I think I have enough trouble areas, to fill the first 6 months of meetings! Clearly things such as one-way systems, crossings and other engineering works, would not be in the remit of the PCC, but an area I could make repression to the county or the unitary authority on. 

If you have any specific ideas for making the roads safer, I would be pleased to hear about them.

Richard Murphy - Liberal Democrat candidate

Thank you for your questions. 

As you say in your email, I have highlighted road safety in my PCC public statements.

I passionately believe that by taking action we can significantly improve safety.  It will also improve the quality of life for people across the whole area, and help us make progress to our climate goals too.

Safety is clearly not just about policing but, by electing me as your Police and Crime Commissioner, you will have someone who is committed to road safety as a priority.  The powers and responsibilities of the PCC mean that, if elected, I can make a real difference to delivering the changes your members are asking for.

On cycling, I feel the impact of the dangers of the roads directly on me personally.  I was a keen cyclist when I was younger (including cycling from Amsterdam to Rome when I was 22!).  But much of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight does not feel safe enough to me to cycle regularly or to encourage others to cycle.  We need to change that.

Tony Bunday - Labour Candidate

(Note: Response provided after initial article publication) 

Thank you to you, and all the other groups involved for getting in touch and engaging with the democratic process.  It is important that everyone has their say and votes in line with their values.

To put a bit of context into my reply:  I am a keen cyclist (even at 63!).  I use a bike to get around Southampton and beyond and have found that it can be the quickest route to get around the city as well as keeping me fit.  I cycled to work from 1994  until my ‘retirement’.  My wife and I even own a tandem and have enjoyed many cycling holidays to France as well as enjoying it locally.

I also believe that we are in a climate emergency and everyone, and every organisation, must play their part in tackling this.  I believe that this includes the police, and I have written a detailed green policy paper and statement of principle to this effect, which you can view on my website.  I believe I am the only candidate to do this.

I firmly believe that we should be making it as easy as possible to get people out of their cars and encouraging everyone to use green and active travel options.  Southampton City Council have been doing some good work with this and I hope that other Cities around Hampshire will also do more.  However, in order to get more people out of their cars, I absolutely understand that we need to make cycling safer and want to play my part in achieving this.

It would be very easy for me to promise everything to everyone during this election to win votes, but that is not who I am.  I want to run an honest campaign.  I am acutely aware that ours is the worst funded police service in the country so unless this changes, diverting significant resources to one scheme is difficult.  That is why my number one priority is to fight for a fairer share of resources from central government.  Interestingly, recently released data showed that “There are around 1,400 fewer police and police staff in Hampshire today than in 2010, according to data from the Home Office, Daily Echo.

I have limited other priorities to:

2. RoadPeace is a national charity for road crash victims in the UK. They provide information and support services to people bereaved or seriously injured in road crashes and engage in evidence based policy and campaigning work to fight for justice for victims and reduce road danger. 

RoadPeace have proposed a 5 point manifesto for the PCC Candidates, which includes the request for PCC Candidates to commit to the following if they are elected. 

  1. Make road danger reduction a priority

  2. Tackle speeding - the greatest threat

  3. Be transparent and accountable

  4. Work with your community

  5. Improve the post-crash response

What is your opinion and feedback on this manifesto, and would you confirm that, if successful in the election, you would sign up to the Road Peace Manifesto, or provide reasons why you wouldn’t do so?

Steve James-Bailey - Hampshire Independents candidate

Although I can’t give any undertaken as you have asked today, because that would be just reckless to considerations to other more equal or more pressing issues, I can meet up with your group and properly listen to all the concerns and take proper stock of the figures.

Unlike Michael lane, the current incumbent, who has done nothing proactive, and has done everything to tie up budget.  

For example, Rural crime has a massive impact presently on rural communities, and the livelihoods, mental trauma of intimidation, stock losses, and in a lot of cases farms are un insurable because of the continous acquisitive crime that is takin place on an almost weekly occasions.  This is also leading onto domestic violence and major loss of income.  This needs to be tackled, yet Michael Lane just does not see it and has failed to engage with the NFU, countryside alliance and wildlife groups.  This is appalling in my eyes, and has become a priority of mine.

Now I appreciate your passion for on road leisure and sport, and it attracting a continuous danger of life from speeding and reckless driving, and you may feel that is equally important, but it hasn’t been of my consideration until I have received your email.  As the elections are a week on Thursday, there is not much time for me to be able to come and speak with your groups or organisations, to fully understand the issues.

So with this in mind, and as above, as soon as I am elected, please write/email me again, and I can only promise to listen to your organisations and take the matter forward.

I hope that is of some help.  It is very difficult for candidates to get informed information from the police or orther organisations without FOI which takes up to 28 days to come back and then not necessarily fully.

Thank you for your email.

Donna Jones - Conservative Party Candidate

With regards the RoadPeace manifesto the answer is yes to points 1-4 and probably yes to 5 as well. Until I have a full briefing and fully understand the current support, I’m am not sure of it is adequate and how it fairs. It is an area I am happy to look into and thank you for flagging this with me. 

Thank you for contacting me and offering me the opportunity to answer these questions ahead of the election. 

Richard Murphy - Liberal Democrat candidate

I do know about the work of RoadPeace.  I really appreciate groups like that coming together to highlight specific problems and solutions.  Their briefing for PCCs they did on 21st January was excellent (and I recommend it to anyone who is campaigning on this). 

On the specifics of my position as your PCC:

1.  Road danger will be a strategy priority for me.

2.  Operational matters are the responsibility of the Chief Constable, so the detail of exactly how and when changes are made will be agreed with her.  But my specific aims to deliver my strategy include:  

Building back up the dedicated Road Policing Unit, which in the cuts saw numbers fall in recent years from 150 to 100 in the area.  They do tremendous work, but talking to them, they know there is so much more that they can do.

Building on the work of Speed Watch.   The lockdown has seen many more people volunteering in their local area.  Talking to people across the area in recent months, there is a real appetite to keep that local volunteering going, and taking action on speeding using Speed Watch is one of the ones most often mentioned to me.  I am to capture that enthusiasm.  But training and resources are a real challenge, and we need to make sure they are not a barrier.  There is a big early opportunity on this which, if elected, I would want to make sure we take.  On the scheme itself, from my discussions with others on how it can be improved, I would look to strengthen it, widen its scope and see how we can toughen up the consequences for drivers so we really can start to see changes.  

Prioritising education, as we know from other countries that the biggest gains are by changing attitudes to speeding and to increase consideration of the needs of other road users

Publicise what is already there.  As an example, video footage can now be submitted directly and easily by the public, but many people are not aware of that.  https://www.hampshire.police.uk/news/hampshire/news/news/2020/august/scheme-officially-launched-for-road-users-to-report-dangerous-incidents/

Working with local authorities and others on infrastructure design, solving problems before they are built and also fixing what we have.  This is very much a long term approach, but by changing thinking we can make a real difference.  The PCC has a wider role to make sure a joined up approach is taken, and I will be there to challenge what is being done. 

3.  Listening to our communities.   I am also committed to consulting more widely than we have seen with the current PCC. I am really encouraged by the work of your individual groups.  Acting together through your informal Coalition makes your voice stronger and, if elected, I will engage with you on how we can do more. 

On the manifesto, I hugely appreciate the manifesto put together by RoadPeace and am happy to commit to the five point manifesto.   

Only so much can practically be delivered in a first term as PCC - I am very conscious of the size of this challenge. 

But I will use the manifesto as a key guide when setting my detailed priorities for road safety and, as you can see from the list above, much of what I want to do will deliver directly on the manifesto.

Any questions, let me know.

I am very happy for you to circulate this to your Coalition groups to help them decide who to support in the election on 6th. 

Tony Bunday - Labour Candidate.

(Note: Response provided after initial article publication) 

I CAN ASSURE that I do share your concerns and goals.  I know personally that it is dangerous for cyclists out there and that we need to do more.  I have had accidents myself and know it can be a very scary and traumatic experience. I can promise you that we are on the same wavelength about this.  I hope I have shown my commitment to your points 1-2 by being the only candidate to have a specific policy to encourage cycling including making roads safer.    

(3+4) Be transparent and accountable and Work with your community

I believe I have shown this by an honest reply to your questions.  I have also demonstrated this through my previous career in public life. I am not a career politician, but have a background of running successful and innovative professional public services at a high level and to a high standard.  I am not seeking to do this role as a stepping stone to anything else but because I believe I can make a difference.  I have campaigned as if I was already the PCC, seeking to make contact with all communities and groups across Hampshire and the IOW.   I intend to play the part of a PCC as if I was still campaigning and am committed to being as accessible as I can and to work with the people of Hampshire and the IOW to make them as safe as I can.  I have a long history of working across agencies and in bringing agencies together to create an enhanced response to difficult issues.  I know this works and that it is important for the police to do this.  I believe that our police need to be embedded in their local communities, working with them and listening to them for the best results. One example of this is Community Speed watch programmes, which are a great example of communities working in a cost effective way to reduce speeding and evidence obtained by community speedwatch is now used in prosecutions.

  1. Improve the post-crash response.

As a long time manager of mental health services I know that trauma can have a long lasting effect on people’s lives.  Until I received this email I have not considered the police’s role in this.  I would be happy to do so if elected.  If the police can play an appropriate role in this then we should be looking to see how this can happen. 

I hope this helps to convince you that I do understand your concerns.  Hampshire has some very serious challenges with its policing particularly funding.  With additional funding we could do a lot more of the above and make Hampshire a safer place.  This would be my main priority as it ties into other things and has many other benefits.  However, I am completely on-board and in agreement on the dangers and risks around cycling and the need to make things better so that more people use sustainable transport.