Pleased to see Rishi Sunak’s government is looking again at LTNs, following on from the leadership of us here in Worcestershire. I spoke at the last Full Council meeting and ruled out the rollout of LTNs as part of our policy approach. Rishi must have been taking notes!
We here in Worcestershire believe in what I call ‘positive modal choice’, which cannot be achieved by the kind of hostility to motorists advocated by other political parties. It’s also not right to demonise cyclists. We all have to share the Public Highway.
Positive modal choice is where you wake up one day and decide it is quicker, safer and cheaper for you to jump on a cycle to complete your journey than it is to get in the car. You decide. Not us. That’s not the job of government at any level. We can nudge you a bit, suggest it, but above all we can just get on and put the infrastructure and systems in place that help you make your own mind up as a responsible travelling adult.
One thing we are doing straightaway is making it easier for County Councillors to request speed reductions on local roads, and to request School Streets in their areas where these are supported by the school, the community, and parents as well as adhering to DfT guidelines.
However, Worcestershire County Council will not – at least whilst I’m the Cabinet Member for Transport – be rolling out the kind of controversial LTNs seen at the heart of community tensions elsewhere in the country. You only have to spend a few minutes googling the topic to see how controversial and unwelcome they are. For me, it’s the concern that LTNs push traffic and pollution to the outside of the zone as drivers seek to avoid it, and more often than not the edges of these zones are the poorer communities.
I will not implement a policy approach that would result in air pollution being squashed into the poorest communities in Worcestershire. I will not knowingly inflict asthma and other respiratory issues onto children in deprived estates for the benefit of affluent and well educated communities who know how demand and campaign for their wrongheaded and shortsighted vision of an unrealistic car free utopia. I got into politics to stand up for the little guys whose voices struggle to be heard, and that’s what I’ll do here.