Memorandum by Norfolk and Norwich Socialist
Environment and Resources Association (IT 100)
In general there was a strong welcome for the
White Paper, especially for the emphasis laid on the reduction
of car use, and on the need for an integrated system of public
transport. There was, however, concern about the level of funding
sufficient for improvements in public transport, and for traffic
management. A lower speed limit in built up areas was felt to
be key element in the promotion of non-car transport (cycling
and walking), and in the reduction of traffic casualties. There
was general regret that the problems of disabled access were not
dealt with in greater detail.
Taxes: There was a big majority in favour
of hypothecated charges for workplace parking, to be paid for
by employees, but much less enthusiasm for road pricing. Out of
town parking charges should be paid for by the car users and not
passed on to customers in the form of higher prices (i.e., if
shop owners paid the parking charges themselves).
Green Commuter schemes and company transport
schemes are to be welcomed.
Strong support was evident for replacement of
company cars by rail or bus passes.
Rural issues: The problems the shire
counties have in highway maintenance should be dealt with more
School Transport should not continue to be funded
within the education budget.
The Rural Bus Subsidy Grant was welcomed and
is already having a positive effect.
More community bus schemes are needed, with Dial-A-Bus
Through ticketing and more affordable fares would
have a big effect on the use of public transport.
Heavy lorries should be banned from villages
and small towns.
Cycling: This should be promoted as part
of an integrated system of transport, which constitutes a relatively
easy switch from cars by preserving the element of private use,
especially for short journeyswhich are the majority of
Motor cycles should not be allowed in bus lanes,
as suggested in the White Paper.
Problems of cycling in rural areas should not
be neglected: road design, off-road cycle paths on trunk roads,
and stricter police enforcement would improve the present situation.
Safe routes to school: There was strong
support for a combined approach involving encouragement to walk
(health considerations demand this, together with the principle
that "more is safer" to counteract safety fears) and
traffic calming measures near schools.
It was suggested that "set aside"
walking strips inside hedgerows or boundary verges would help
in rural areas where there are no footpaths. School governors,
parents and staff should be consulted on ways and means of achieving
safe walking to school in their own catchment areas.
Changing the Culture/Planning issues:
Local communities must be involved in the planning process, although
there needs to be an overall regional level of planning as well.
The process should be bottom upwards. The present
planning process is too complicated, opaque and long drawn out
for people to engage with; it seems to favour the more affluent
and articulate. More needs to be done to include the public in
the planning process. A start has been made with Community Partnerships
already in place in Norwich.
Out of town facilities, public and private,
should have adequate public transport taken into account in preliminary
stages of the planning process.
No increase in car parks in city centres.
Local media should be encouraged to promote
public transport use.
All development proposals should include a non-car
strategy (cycling and walking as well as public transport). Traffic
laws to be more strictly enforced.
Rail: The White Paper's aim to increase
passenger and freight levels was strongly welcomed. In order to
increase passenger use, there must be better information, through
ticketing, better bus/train interchanges, better disabled access
and facilities for cyclists (both on the train and in cycle parks
Good practice by some railway companies should
be used as a lever to raise the standards in the poorer ones,
or, if this fails, franchises should not be renewed, and we see
the formation of a Strategic Rail Authority as an urgent priority.
The rail network should be widened using old
railway lines to reconnect towns and villages.
The environmental impact of fuels should be
examined (diesel vs electric). The public should be made aware
of the difference in environmental impact of various forms of
transport (air, car, train, bus).
Buses: Many people perceive bus costs
as greater than car costsbut realistic figures need to
be publicised and discount schemes promoted, for example with
ticket strips and smart cards.
Buses designed for comfort with wider access
for push-chairs, for the disabled and for shoppers need to be
Reliability is a key factor in promoting bus
use-quality. Partnerships and similar measures were welcomed.
Information needs to be improved both before
the journey and at bus stops, for example real-time information,
time tables and route maps at all stops.
Although the best antidote against insecurity,
particularly, though not exclusively, at night, is to have more
people travelling by bus, there should also be conductors on most
Environmentally sound fuels must be universal.
Teaching children to use buses by encouragement
and example would help to bring about a "bus culture",
but for this to happen buses must be family-friendly in terms
of design, prices and helpfulness of staff.
Concessionary fares schemes should be reciprocal
between local authorities as well as nationally standardised.
For Norwich and Norfolk SERA
24 September 1998