Climate of Anger at Consultation Process

Here is a press release from Swindon Climate Action Network following a meeting on Monday which Swindon TUC participated in. The meeting addressed the Borough Council’s consultation on its document: “2030 – A Vision for Transport”. It was agreed to set up a Sustainable Transport Coalition. There will be further meetings in January and March.

At a well attended meeting on Monday night, many local groups interested in sustainable transport expressed their anger at being excluded from Swindon Borough Council’s consultation 2030: A Vision for Transport.

A wide range of groups including the WI, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, and the Ramblers were amazed to learn that they had either not been invited to consultation workshops, or had been invited so much later than other groups that they missed the opportunity to input into an influential report produced by Halcrow for the Council. Marc Taylor of the Cyclists’ Touring Club said:

“We are the oldest members transport group in the country and have a lot of expertise to offer but we weren’t invited to the four workshops that informed Halcrow’s report. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that the Council wants to go out to consult more motorists!”

Swindon Climate Action Network member, Gina Adams said:

“We were all thinking the same thing. On the surface the transport vision has laudable goals about promoting sustainable transport and providing alternatives to the car. But when you actually look at the detail, most of the strategies are about catering for ever increasing car traffic, new roads and more car parks. With Swindon’s traffic growing 2.5 times faster than the national average, and predicted to get worse with all these new houses planned, we are concerned that the Council is failing to tackle the problems of congestion, pollution, health and community and climate change.”

“On the bright side”, said Mike Thomas from Cap and Share, “it seems that the consultation is sending the Council a strong message anyway, that Swindon people want more funding for sustainable transport. The Residents Associations, Parish Councils and other groups are asking for less focus on car travel and car parking and more on public transport. This should include dramatically better bus services and incentives for people to use them. Walking and cycling anywhere in town should also be made much easier and all residential and shopping areas should be traffic free or 20mph zones. This can be achieved by diverting funding from proposed road building, which the Council admits will not solve congestion.”

“The Council has spent £70,000 on this consultation and we really hope they listen to what people are saying” said Deb Joffe of Swindon Friends of the Earth. “The time has come to put words into action on climate change. This week the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali is asking policy makers for real action and with all party support for the Climate Change Bill in the UK, we want to work together to put Swindon on the map as one of the best towns for Public Transport in Europe. As a transport town, it’s Swindon’s birthright”.

Notes to Editors:
(1) DFT Figures published in September 2007, show 10.2% increase in vehicle miles travelled in Swindon over 2001-2006, compared with 4.1% across Britain.

For further information contact Gina Adams: 07791 294 709

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