Annual Conference – Liverpool

Labour Cycles talked to hundreds of delegates, councillors and MPs at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool.

We made progress on at a national policy level, stoking political will and stimulating debate within the Labour movement around active travel.

National Policy – We met with Matt Rhodda MP (Shadow Minister for Transport – Cycling), Rachel Maskell  MP (Shadow Minister for Transport – Rail), Andy McDonald MP (Shadow Sec. of State for Transport) and even grabbed some time with John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor, to make the case for Dutch levels of investment across the UK and more. The goal is for Labour to redefine what it means to be progressive on active travel in the UK. These discussions are open, positive and increasingly detailed.

Local political will – As well as meeting Andy Burnham (Mayor of Great Manchester) and Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) who are already engaged in significant programmes, we had longer conversations with Council Leaders in Cardiff and Birmingham who are about to embark on major initiatives for their communities.

In total, we spoke with several hundred councillors and conversations ranged from introducing 20mph zones to very practical discussions about how to build support for higher dose interventions like low traffic neighbourhoods and protected bike lanes.

There were many frank conversations about the work involved in building political will within CLPs, council executives and our communities.   This ranged from executive members asking for feedback on specific policies to councillors asking how to help persuade Labour colleagues to back meaningful change.   We need to accelerate the production of toolkits and resources to help on this.

Ride – Photos of our short ride with MPs and Councillors along the Albert Dock to the RIBA North venue made it to the Guardian and Independent which was the intent. Next year we will go further.

Fringe event – A fantastic line-up of Tom Watson MP, Rachel Maskell MP, Heidi Alexander (London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport) and Merseytravel Chair, Cllr Liam Robinson, attracted an audience that contained councillors, prospective parliamentary candidates and mayors from across the UK.

Transport deprivation, cycling in rural communities and barriers to cycling across gender and age were all touched on. More detail from the session is available (LINK) but highlights included:

  • Labour’s Commission on Obesity and Diabetes– Tom Watson discussed his personal journey and the unnecessary and unsustainable rise in NHS Type II Diabetes related spending. Tom invited Labour Cycles to work with Jonathan Ainsworth’s new commission looking at a cross-departmental approach tackling obesity and inactivity.
  • National ambition – Rachel talked the need for a dramatic shake-up of transport policy and how a Labour government would deliver change in our cities and rural areas.  The need for upgraded national infrastructure standards and sustained funding for local authorities who were committed to real change were amongst some of the ideas shared.
  • Refining messaging –  Both Heidi and Tom talked about the need for real ambition around land use, the political will to reverse the widespread exclusion from active travel and the need to refine messaging and help energize the Labour movement to deliver the very best public policy on active travel.

MP, MEP, Assembly Member and PPC endorsements – we garnered a host of endorsement from MPs, MEPs, PPCs and Welsh Assembly members including – Chi Onwurah, Dennis Skinner, Maria Eagle, Meg Hillier, Catherine West, Tom Watson, Daniel Zeichner,  Stephen Timms, Vernon Coaker, Emily Thornberry, Yvette Cooper, Helen Goodman, Anneliese Dodds, Fabian Hamilton, Hilary Benn , Toby Perkins, Jon Ashworth, Kevin Brennan (MEP), Angela Eagle and Ben Bradshaw amongst many others.

Police & Crime Commissioners  – An unexpected highlight of the conference was meeting with some of the Police and Crime Commissioners across the county including Vera Baird (Northumbria) and Paddy Tipping (Notts).  David Jamieson, the West Midlands PPC talked to us about the award-winning ‘Operation Close-Pass’ and how other forces across the country were using the West Midlands Police methodology – LINK

Recreation of Cycling England? At a separate event – Andy MacDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport stated ‘Cities cannot be economically successful and be pleasant places to live if they are clogged up with cars’. As well as committing to re-instating a Cycling England-like body he talked compellingly about the need to align transport spending to the country’s health and environmental needs.

Join us as a full member –  It is now easier than ever to sign-up – by Credit Card or PayPal – simply choose to join at our full or reduced rate and click on the payment type icon – LINK. Your membership fees help pay for events like the conference presence (cost over £4,000), literature and our Bike Nation book education offer.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to Judy Mallaber, Gwenda Owen and Jill and Jim Borchards and Christian Wolmar for working with such passion during the week!

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