London Cycling Campaign in Hackney
Wednesday, 7th May, 2014
Marcon Court and Aspland Estates Community Hall
Present: Kira Baeur, Mohan de Benoit, Siobhan Blackshaw (rides co-ordinator), Kate Charteris (committee member without portfolio), Marian Farrugia (committee member without portfolio), Carol Gray, Dave Harris (treasurer), Jono Kenyon (committee member without portfolio), Richard Lufkin, Dave Lukes (sustainability officer), Angus McDonnell, Trevor Parsons (co-ordinator), Oliver Schick (secretary, minutes), Adrian Weidmann, Chas Wilshere (workshop representative). Apologies: Katie Hanson, Brenda Puech (events co-ordinator).
Mayoral candidates: Mischa Borris (Green Party) Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats) Mustafa Korel (Hackney First) Jules Pipe (Labour Party), accompanied by Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods (Labour Party) Apologies: Linda Kelly (Conservative candidate for Mayor of Hackney), Amy Gray (policy assistant to Linda Kelly).
1. Minutes and matters arising
2. Mayoral candidates Q&A
3. Election campaign update
4. Big Ride feeder / promotion
5. Finance: 2014-15 budget
6. Hackney Cycling Showcase
7. Bike Week
8. Any other business
Date of next meeting: Wednesday 4th June, 2014, 7:30pm.
1. Minutes and matters arising
There were no matters arising.
2. Mayoral candidates Q&A
TP introduced the candidates, thanking them for coming, and invited them to outline their responses to our manifesto.
Mustafa Korel (Hackney First): He was supportive of our manifesto and went through the manifesto points one by one, stressing that he had produced a separate manifesto on increasing the cycling economy, which was the point in it which interested him the most. He gave ‘credit where it [was] due’ to the Council’s work on cycling. As he had had a collision on Navarino Road, he was campaigning to have it filtered.
On secure residential cycle parking, he supported cycle lockers on estates, admitting to a fascination with them and to taking pictures of them. This was partly because he had had two bikes stolen in Hackney. Here, too, he declared himself complimentary of council work on this.
He strongly agreed that better cycle access to the Olympic Park was important.
His main interest lay in our suggestion for improving the cycling-related economy, and he had produced a policy briefing in response to this. The cycle industry was worth £3bn nationwide. If elected as Mayor, he wanted to involve the local enterprise partnership in promoting cycling-related businesses, creating a cycling hub as a large-scale community-led regeneration programme for living wage jobs, alongside skills training programmes for local people led by industry professionals, not-for-profits like LCC, as well as the local enterprise partnership. He saw Hackney as a future cycling industry capital in the UK.
He would also examine the Council’s legal duty on its procurement policy and would instigate a review, e.g. how to use more local suppliers, such as local caterers, ideally businesses using cargo cycles for deliveries. He was keen to increase cycle use in the Council and to expand cycle training from drivers of HGVs to drivers of all Council cars.
On cycle training, he wanted people to eventually learn through peer support networks or parents’ teaching rather than formal training, and to include cycling in a business exchange programme, e.g. if someone couldn’t ride a bike, they could exchange learning to cycle for something else.
He said that reducing car parking provision should be sensitive to those who need access to a car and favoured single-sided parking in streets, which existed elsewhere.
He was also keen for Hackney to save money by unifying its web-site portal.
Jules Pipe (Labour Party): He expressed the hope that he had been accessible to LCCiH over the twelve years that he had been Mayor. He endorsed the whole of our manifesto. On long-term ambitions, he aspired to bring back a human-scale townscape and was committed to projects like Clapton Town Centre (to replace the Lea Bridge Roundabout), but was clear that it would be ‘the work of generations’.
Feryal Demirci announced that Hackney had secured a commitment from Transport for London to return Stoke Newington to two-way operation between 2016 and 2020. There were three options being explored, all for removing the gyratory. This was very welcome news. Jules referenced past work, such as improving key junctions like the Britannia leisure centre junction, which had cost lots of money and there had been lots of ‘pushback’ from motorists, but the council and LCCiH had together held the line.
He explained that Hackney had introduced 20mph zones in the way it did and had not introduced a single 20mph speed limit in order to get residents’ support, as there had been a lot of problems with this, such as cars hitting speed bumps in Powerscroft Road, making houses shake. Hackney was also working on on ‘shared’ roads with TfL, to eventually have 20mph limits throughout the whole borough.
He talked about increasing youth participation, increasing safety, and work with the Council’s HGV drivers, as well as work on rat-runs such as Goldsmith’s Row.
On our suggestions for cycling targets, he said that we wanted to go as far as we could, and that he didn’t think that we had been too ambitious in suggesting a target that TfL had rejected. He said that Feryal had to go and pick up awards all the time, so the Council had to be doing something right.
He thanked Mustafa Korel for his support on residential cycle parking and thought the Council’s track record on this was already strong and improving.
He supported the ambition to get better access to the Olympic Park.
On the cycling economy, he mentioned a recent exhibition in Austin, Texas, where the Council had taken about 80 businesses, including cycloc, a Hackney-based business making wall storage units for bikes. On the suggestion of a ‘cycling hub’, he said that the seed of the ‘Fashion Hub’ had been that 800,000 people already came to Burberry every year to buy there, and that ‘critical mass’ was needed for such business developments, such as a ‘critical mass’ of cycle businesses and demand for bikes, with which it would be possible to start to imagine some sort of physical location for a hub. He saw that there was already an eclectic mix of bike businesses going on and that the Council would be able to promote and support cycling-based industry in Hackney using the ‘myriad’ business promotion methods it had used in recent years, even if at first this wouldn’t have a physical centre.
Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats): He spoke very briefly and introduced himself as a lifelong cyclist who grew up in London. He cited the terrorist bombs of the 7th July, 2005, as a point of major increase in cycling and thought we needed some kind of kickstarter for cycling, although obviously not terrorist attacks. He supported the manifesto and was working on a detailed point-by-point response. He wanted more hire bikes and far more segregated cycle lanes.
Mischa Borris (Green Party): She said that all Hackney Green Party candidates fully supported the manifesto and all of the ‘ward asks’. When she had been a councillor (2004-2008), she had introduced a motion to commit Hackney to 20mph. She wanted to achieve a 20% cycling trip share by 2030, was keenly interested in returning the Stoke Newington gyratory to two-way operation, and on encouraging more journeys ‘by pedal and by foot’. She herself was ‘mainly a pedestrian’, but she said that we all had a common interest in making our streets safer and more pleasant to use.
Following the statements from candidates, OS mentioned that the Conservative candidate for Mayor, Linda Kelly, had been unable to make the meeting owing to a clashing engagement elsewhere in the borough, and that Amy Gray, her policy assistant, had also had to send her apologies. However, the Conservative manifesto response was going to be up on our web-site.
We then had a short question-and-answer session.
MF said that she thought car parking was a major problem, and that she was aware of touching on a hot topic with it. She asked for the candidates’ thoughts on it.
Mustafa Korel re-iterated his support for single-side car parking (‘alternating side car parking’), which he thought could generate more space for cycling.
Jules Pipe said that the key thing was to reduce car use, to lead to less car ownership, as there was no point in having a car sitting outside just costing money. This was not so much about discouraging car ownership, but about showing people that they didn’t need a car in Hackney, e.g. through car clubs. There needed to be some enforcement on people driving cars to school, although this percentage had declined significantly in Hackney through work on school travel plans, and enforcement on CPZs, showing people how much they benefit an area, reducing parking stress and litter, for instance. He said that to the best of his knowledge, there had never been a campaign to get rid of CPZs once one was in, as they proved popular when people could see the benefits. Car-free developments had also played a vital role.
Simon de Deney said that you have to reassure people that it’s safe to cycle. He cited the example of the Netherlands and said that cycle use there was high because of segregated lanes and that with them, there was less of an issue with car parking.
Mischa Borris asked Simon about the Hackney Lib Dem policy of free car parking spaces and how that would discourage people from having cars. He said that some people had been so cross about the Council’s handling of the consultation on CPZs in Hackney Downs that they had become Lib Dems. He said that the Council made a profit of £4.5m from controlled parking and that CPZ charges had become a regressive tax. He thought they should be indexed to income like council tax. Mischa responded by saying that this was a regressive policy and that most households in Hackney managed without a car; only 35% of households had a car. She attacked the Lib Dems and said that if they wanted to be a party that is green, free car parking would be a bizarre policy. Her own party did not favour mass car ownership in dense urban environments and fully supported CPZs.
Jules Pipe thanked Mischa for her support and said that he was glad he was not the only one saying this and ‘bashing’ the Lib Dems on this. He said that at £2/week, parking charges were by no means the most expensive item of motoring, and that this was not a significant barrier to car ownership. Car ownership very low in Hackney at 35%, and he thought that it was strange that someone would want the poorer 65% to subsidise, through council tax, car parking for what were ‘probably the richer 35%’. He recalled that Paul Foot had supported something like this when he had stood for Mayor in 2002 and had been rejected by the audience at the hustings where he proposed free car parking. On the issue of whether the Council made a profit from controlled parking, he said that any surplus made on the cost of the scheme went into a percentage of the costs of providing the Freedom Pass, whose cost as a whole greatly exceeded sBurplus from controlled parking.
Feryal Demirci said that on the specific issue of whether profit was ‘£5.9m, £4.5m, or £5.2m’, the actual 2011/12 surplus had been only £1.7m, and that the Council had made further savings of £2.3m in how the scheme was administered which had not been ‘profit’. The Council spent £12m per year on concessionary fares, of which the surplus from CPZs was a small percentage. She said that in certain areas we exceeded air quality limits, and that it would be counter-productive to encourage more car use.
Simon de Deney said in response that he advised caution about how to use ‘regressive’. The Lib Dems used it in the sense of ‘it makes it harder for poor people’. He said that they had talked to people on estates, who were ‘pissed off’ with having to pay car parking charges, and that £2/week was a lot for some families.
KC asked why, seemingly in contradiction to the policy Jules Pipe advocated, car parking in Clissold Ward had increased. She said that even one of the local Labour councillors couldn’t understand why additional car parking spaces had appeared.
Jules Pipe promised to look into this and to get back to her. He said that car parking would sometimes respond to residents’ requests, e.g. if they felt that allocation of space had been too draconian, and that there were places where ‘we are awash with space’.
JK asked candidates what their plans were for increasing youth cycling. He said that we had seen a healthy increase in commuter numbers, but that we hadn’t seen a similar increase in children and young adolescents cycling. He asked for achievable targets and policies that are measurable and evidence-based.
MdB seconded this question, asking how candidates would get more schoolchildren cycling and how they would measure the effect of the policy? If parents felt that it’s safe, they’d let their children cycle to school. By eliminating rat-runs, it would be possible to create safe cycle routes to school, to cut down on air pollution, etc.
Mischa Borris said that it was important to make it safer and more pleasant, and that some of this work was already going on, e.g. with bike clubs and trainers in schools. She thought that just like ‘walking crocodiles’, maybe you could have something for schoolchildren cycling to schools, like ‘cycling crocodiles’.
Simon de Deney said that you had to make sure that all the manifesto points were met and stressed again the importance of segregated cycle lanes. He said he spoke as a parent living in Clissold Ward, and that it was tricky to get children to school because the school was on a main road. He thought that it was essential to increase targets.
Jules Pipe said that the Council were doing a lot of work on this, although we were a very compact borough of only 7 1/2 square miles. One of Bromley’s wards was larger than our whole borough. 18% of journeys to school used to be made by car, and this had dropped to 8%, clearly resulting in lots of walked trips, but not cycle trips. 100% of schools now had school travel plans and these had been instrumental in this change. Hackney had more flatted properties than any other borough, and there were problems with carrying bikes downstairs, lack of residential cycle parking, and that distances to primary school were very short for the vast majority of primary schoolchildren, making parents feel that it was not worth the effort to break out the bike. He did agree that it was important to capture people at primary school level, so that they would be into cycling when they grew up.
Mustafa Korel stressed the importance of safer roads, cycling clubs, or learning how a bike works. He had himself experienced the fascination in a year 6 classroom when children had been trained in how a bike works. He thought that ‘cycle to school crocodiles’ were a good idea. A major problem was access to bicycles, as it was not a priority for people on lower incomes to buy a bike. Many would rather buy scooters for their children. It was also very important to look look at the underlying problems that prevented people from cycling.
MdB said that a reduction in motor vehicle journeys was not demonstrated by teachers, and that a count of cars parked at his local school car park appeared to show an increase in teachers driving. He also asked about ‘culture change’, as many of his neighbours loved to cycle, but that it seemed teachers were not getting the mentoring in schools. Now that the Learning Trust was back in-house at Hackney, would there be more of an opportunity to work with teachers in-house?
Jules Pipe said that schools were autonomous in that respect and that they wouldn’t be interested in pleas from officers for teachers not to use cars, as it was very difficult to recruit teachers.
AW said that access to bikes was a major problem, e.g. it was possible to keep a car outside the house but bikes often didn’t fit in corridors. He wondered why people would take a bike if they had to get their bike and the kids’ bikes. If you could lock your bike outside the house as safely as parking a car, perhaps this barrier could be overcome.
MF said that lots of kids used scooters and that she didn’t think it mattered as long as kids didn’t get into car culture.
The meeting again thanked the candidates for coming and wished them all good luck in the elections.
3. Election campaign update
The campaign was going well, and LCC members and supporters of our members and supporters had sent e-mails. The stats provided by the LCC office showed that Hackney had the largest number of members and supporters of all LCC groups, but as of the previous Wednesday only 16% of these Hackney members and supporters had participated in the campaign, so that another reminder was needed.
The initial idea behind the campaign had been to gather personal commitments from council candidates for the ‘ward asks’, but in practice we had received whole-hearted support from the parties instead of only individual responses. This was a good thing and parties were committing to delivering the things we asked for, even though it was not how the campaign had originally been conceived.
CG asked what would happen if a candidate said they supported a ‘ward ask’ and subsequently broke a promise. OS said that most likely they would be held to that broken promise and lose votes at the next election.
The question was also raised how delivery of the schemes concerned would be tracked. OS thought this had not yet been discussed, but he would raise it. KC said that it had been raised at the campaign organisers’ group.
RLu commented that he thought the campaign was a very good idea.
OS said that with Hackney on the largest number of members and supporters, we should do more membership activity again, e.g. at festivals.
We were also expecting responses to our manifesto from candidates. The manifesto was something that we had done over and above the ‘ward asks’ in order to cover some different ground, and it had been well-received.
4. Big Ride feeder/promotion
There was going to be a ‘Big Ride’ as part of the election campaign, on the 17th of May. KC said that the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign ‘feeder ride’ would be coming through London Fields, so we would be able to join them for the rest of the way into Central London. We were advertising in London Fields. Nick from WFCC was leading, and KC was in touch with him. WFCC were going to test-ride the route on the Saturday morning following the meeting. KC said that Hackney riders would meet at 9:30am to leave at 10am. WFCC were leaving their Town Hall at 9:15am.
KC asked if someone could take the gazebo and set it up on London Fields, to have a stall. TP said that we didn’t have flyers for our own ride and that we should make some. He asked if people would have time to hand them out days before. AMcD said that there were already people, organised by the LCC office, who were doing flyering. MF suggested putting flyers in bike shops. TP also asked if it was possible to bring our flag.
AMcD and CG said that it was important to attract a wide cross-section of people.
TP asked whether arrangements for the return journey had been thought about, and where the best place to gather would be.
KC said that it was supposed to finish at 2pm, and DL said that Hackney riders would gather at 2:30pm, to leave at 3pm.
Actions: AMcD would be able to help at LF but couldn’t help with taking things down. KC would volunteer. BP and KC would gather stall stock and put it on the stall. RLu volunteered to do some flyering.
5. Finance: 2014-15 budget
DH set the context of this item. We always had to submit a budget, and it was his ambition to make the budget a ‘working plan’. We should maximise revenue and optimise outcomes, monitoring progress quarterly and adjusting the budget if necessary. LCC was demanding a ratio test to ensure that our reserves were not excessive. LCC would question whether we needed the Local Groups grant, and their guidance suggested that if a group had a surplus, it should ask itself if this could be used better by the LCC centrally.
OS said that we needed to agree what reserve we wanted. DH said that his draft budget was calculated to pass the LCC test and included a calculation of a £500 deficit for the year.
He wanted us to ask three questions of the draft budget: (1) Was this budget appropriate? The meeting thought so and endorsed it. (2) Should we claim the LCC grant? The meeting decided that we should. (3) As a matter of housekeeping, we needed to examine our fixed cost base. DH outlined what this currently consisted of. There were three areas in which we spent the money we had to spend to exist: (a) IT costs via Mythic Beasts at £380pa, (b) the garage at £160pa, and (c) the meeting room at £450pa. Fixed costs therefore amounted to around £990, and DH thought that more of this money should be committed to campaigning and events. He said that he would like to see money reallocated. No decision was made at the meeting, but we agreed to try to find ways to reduce the fixed cost base.
DH asked what the upfront costs would be if we were to hold a fundraising ceilidh later in the year. As we didn’t yet have concrete plans to hold a ceilidh and didn’t know what venue we might hold it in, we couldn’t answer this question. DH asked for a revenue-raising agenda item at the next meeting to plan such activities.
Also as part of the budget discussions, KC asked if we would give Hackney BMX Club £100 to pay two coaches for two hours at the Showcase. The meeting decided that we wouldn’t.
6. Hackney Cycling Showcase
TP talked about last year’s showcase and briefly outlined how we had made the decisions to hold the showcase in the way we planned this year. It was going to be on the 7th of June, just after the Hackney Cycling Conference on the 6th of June. It was going to be held at the Hackney Picturehouse, followed by a Street Films Night. The evening event would be £5. The Cycling in Hackney smartphone app was going to be launched at the Conference.
The Saturday Showcase would be held between Hackney City Farm and the BMX track. We had attracted a few sponsors such as Cycle Hoop, who were providing two bike ports for the day at a cost of £600. Hackney Bike Workshop were going to be there, as well as Bike Yard East, so that there would be lots of mechanics on hand. There was going to be a bike jumble on which London Bike Kitchen were keen, and Jem Stein of The Bike Project was going to be there. London Green Cycles would bring cargo bikes and were also involved in the Conference. Bamboo Bicycle Club were also going to be there. Hackney BMX Club had the London Youth Games on the next day but were going to put on an exhibition (with a pedal-powered PA). Unfortunately, Cycling Club Hackney were organising a track day at Herne Hill Velodrome on the day of the Showcase, so that they would be unavailable to do grass track racing in Haggerston Park.
KC was going to put up an A0 poster in Goldsmith’s Row and wondered if we could spray-paint some bikes as showcase signs, to perhaps be put in Columbia Road and Goldsmith’s Row.
There would be brief 45-minute sessions with talks in the straw bale house. Brian Deegan from TfL and Mark Strong from Transport Alternatives were already confirmed. OS would do a talk on the ‘Vision for Hackney’. KC was still looking for some more presenters. We thought that perhaps Jenni Gwiazdowski, or Celia from Bike Yard East might be able to talk about London cycle business. AMcD thought we could ask framebuilders, e.g. Ryan of Oak Cycles or Tom Donhou. We might also ask some of the women who design clothes for cycling.
KC said that there would be a splash in Hackney Today and that we had to provide content for it.
We hadn’t yet finalised plans for the Saturday evening Showcase Social. Chris from Hackney City Farm was going to get back to us about that. Options were a BBQ, a social in the café space, or we could use the garden and bring our own food & drink.
KC called for volunteers to help on the day. AMcD, CW, CG, DL, RLu, JK, OS, and TP (early) all volunteered.
The Hackney cycling calendar looked packed for June. In addition to the Hackney Cycling Week-end and Bike Week events, there would be:
12th June: Bike Around the Borough
14th June: Finsbury Park Festival of Cycling (we were going to do a joint stall with ICAG and Haringey Cycling Campaign)
7. Bike Week
Bike Week was going to be from the 14th to the 22nd June this year. We firmed up dates for our regular events. Bike the Bounds was going to be on the 21st June, at 10am, starting from the Town Hall Square. The breakfast in London Fields was going to be on Wednesday 18th. We decided to set up a Facebook page for posting events.
Action: TP to design Bike Week flyer by last bike workshop in May (20th May).
8. Any other business
As we didn’t have time, we had to postpone discussion on a number of items, to be taken at the next meeting.
The meeting closed at 10pm.
Date of next meeting: Wednesday, 4th June, 2014, 7:30pm.