EDITED – THANKS MR BLOGS 🙂
In previous posts I put across an argument that the demise of Cycling England could be a good thing. It could mean the reintegration of cycling within the Department for Transport, making it publically accountable and receiving a deserving share of the transport budget. Like the Highways Agency, cycling could be an ‘Executive Agency’. Cycling is after all part of the sustainable transport (and public health and wellbeing and climate change and energy conservation etc) solution.
As you have probably learned today, not only is Cycling England to be abolished from March 2011 but the future for cycling now looks far bleaker than anyone could have imagined. Now there will simply be a Local Sustainable Travel Fund with the mechanism for delivery still to be determined.
What’s worse is that, although Bikeability (Cycling Proficiency), is set to be protected under the Department for Transport, there is nothing to say it won’t be affected by the funding cuts to be announced on October 20th.
With cycling project funding cast out across the provinces, walking and cycling campaign groups will be left fighting for scraps while the DfT marches on, indifferent to the plight of those that prefer simpler, greener, more fun and effective forms of transport, or simply cannot afford a car. This is the Conservative tactic of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at its worst. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however; according to a press release brought to my attention by a Lo Fidelity Reader, ‘DfT is also considering establishing an expert panel on wider sustainable travel which would promote cycling as part of the wider green agenda’. I’d imagine some eco-car manufacturers may also be in the panel too.
As jolly nice and good looking cyclists and pedestrians, we must not be distracted by localism. We must remain fixed now on Phillip Hammond, Norman Baker and the Department for Transport; if a major transport scheme is planned, cycling has to be integrated from the beginning as opposed to fighting to get a crap cycle path running next to it or exposed Sheffield Stands.
Above all Cycle Training in whatever form has to be retained or we lose yet another generation to the relentless pull of the sedentary lifestyle, leading to more dangerous roads.
Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, seems to think Sustainable Transport doesn’t incorporate the most sustainable forms of transport of all. Apparently we should all be using electric cars now. This is a man that clearly needs to be reshuffled at the first God given opportunity and the woefully car-centric Department for Transport needs to be reformed as it appears to be languishing decades behind in sustainability.
Whilst we work out what to do next, I’m off to dig out my Chas n Dave ‘Snooker Loopy’ EP, my florescent socks and look for a Sinclair C5 on ebay. I feel we are going back to the Conservative times of old.
11 thoughts on “Stay on Target”
14 October 2010 10:15 Department for Transport (National)
The Department for Transport today announced significant reforms to a number of its public bodies following a cross-Government review.
The organisations to be abolished as public bodies are:
Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC);
Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA);
The Railway Heritage Committee;
The Commission for Integrated Transport; and
BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
Key functions of Cycling England and RFA will be brought in-house and successor arrangements for DPTAC will be consulted on.
One further body – Passenger Focus – will be retained, but substantially reformed to focus on the core role of protecting passengers while reducing costs to taxpayers.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
“Reducing the number of quangos on our books is vital to delivering transparent and accountable public services and will make an important contribution towards reducing the deficit.
“We are ensuring that only those bodies that absolutely need to continue as independent bodies are retained either in their current form or significantly slimmed down. The remainder we will either scrap, reform, or arrange for their functions to be delivered in-house without the need for separate arms-length bodies.
“I am confident that these reforms will significantly increase accountability, enhance public confidence in Government and make important savings, whilst continuing to meet our responsibilities to the travelling public.”
The move is part of the Government-wide reform to increase accountability, deliver smaller government and improve efficiency, across Whitehall.
Cycling England was set up as the independent expert body to advise on the promotion of cycling. The Government believes that this work can now be better delivered within the Department through the newly announced Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Bikeability – cycle proficiency for the 21st Century – will be supported for the remainder of this Parliament. DfT is also considering establishing an expert panel on wider sustainable travel which would promote cycling as part of the wider green agenda.
The Department will continue to ensure transport policies promote equality. However the legislation governing the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) is now 25 years old, and there is scope to reform the way disability advice is delivered to increase flexibility and accountability to the taxpayer. The Department will therefore consult on successor arrangements.
The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) administers the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation and provides a source of expert advice on biofuel sustainability but there is now scope to transfer its functions to the Department for Transport. The Department will work with the RFA to consider how best to achieve this transition and to ensure that potential savings are realised.
The Railway Heritage Committee (RHC) is responsible for designating railway artefacts and records of historical importance. The Government believes that the RHC can not be justified as no equivalent protection applies to the heritage of any other transport sector. The RHC will therefore be abolished.
The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) was established in 1999 to provide independent advice to Government on integrated transport policy in England via evidence-based research. However the department has concluded that the emphasis should now be on high-level strategic advice rather than detailed research. This can be achieved more cost effectively by the Department for Transport engaging directly with experts through a new informal strategic transport advisory group, rather than an arms length body.
BRB (Residuary) Ltd is responsible for discharging the residual functions of the British Railways Board following the divestment of British Rail’s operating railway functions in 1997. BRBR will be wound up in due course once its programme of asset disposals is complete and its remaining statutory functions will transfer to the direct control of the Department for Transport.
Notes to editors
1. The Cabinet Office have published a full list of reforms to the Government’s Public Bodies http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
2. Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) or quangos (Quasi-autonomous non-government organisation) are defined as bodies which have a role in the processes of national government but are not government departments or part of one and which accordingly operate to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from Ministers. This includes:
a. Executive NDPBs, e.g. grant or service delivery, regulatory or training providers; and
b. Advisory NDPBs, e.g. scientific committees or pay review bodies;
c. In addition, for this reform process some non-ministerial departments and some public corporations are being included in the scope.
3. Following this review process the Department’s remaining public bodies are: British Transport Police Authority, Channel Tunnel Section 1 Finance PLC, Civil Aviation Authority, Directly Operated Railways Ltd, High Speed Two Ltd, London and Continental Railways Ltd, London and Continental Railways Finance PLC, Northern Lighthouse Board, Office of Rail Regulation, Passenger Focus (Passengers’ Council), Traffic Commissioners and Deputies, Trinity House Lighthouse Service.
4. All of the retained Bodies will have met one of the three tests:
· Performing a technical function;
· Requiring political impartiality; or
· Needing to act independently to establish facts.
Press Enquires: 020 7944 3066
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 0300 330 3000
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk | http://www.twitter.com/transportgovuk | http://www.youtube.com/transportgovuk | http://www.flickr.com/transportgovuk
Thanks for the press release that seems to have been a bit lacking from reports during the day.
Post now tweaked slightly. I welcome your thoughts.
“Local Sustainable Travel Fund”
Mere coincidence that my local council “Cycling Officer”, was recently re-monikered as a “Sustainable Travel Officer”?
How bizarre, how bizarre…
More of a list here: http://railwayeye.blogspot.com/2010/10/transport-quangos-to-be-abolished.html
Can’t see passenger focus lasting that much longer either. If taxpayer $$s have to go down, farebox $$ have to go up.
Unless you cut front line services of course!
Agreed. Although I was under the impression that a cap had been lifted on season tickets (please feel free to correct me) which could see massive rises anyway. The rail companies will get their bit whether Passenger Focus are there or not.
TIme to invest in that electric car!
Not quite sure yet – I guess sometime next week all the plans will start to fall out.
I’d expect to see RPI+1 or maybe RPI+2 announced for Jan 2011, but with random additional changes throughout the year – such as the cutting of ‘off peak times’ and other such fun.
Sad thing is that passenger numbers are still rising, though for how long that will be sustained with increased costs compared to private motoring…
Where I’m originally from in Surrey, it’s always going to be the train into London Waterloo whatever the prices as its too convenient. I remember a rumour that South West Trains were considering having some carriages with sections without seats during the peak to hold more people! The Victorian Third Class Carriages were open air but at least you had a seat!
If you want a vision of what ‘local sustainable transport’ looks like, here in Richmond in London, the newly elected Conservative council are pushing through free parking for cars – madness! Expect a similar view on any local cycling projects.
Thanks for the link. I particularly like the proposal to remove the emisions-based criteria for all parking charges.
It is arrogance in defence of ignorance and completely flies in the face of what could REALLY make Richmond a nice place for residents, shoppers and businesses.
Then again, I am familiar with Richmond and wouldn’t expect anything less. Good luck with the consultation!
Thanks (and really enjoying the blog and tweets btw). You’re right about Richmond, it has so much potential as a cycling oasis but unlikely to ever achieve it. Too many haters 😦
Sadly I suspect the ‘consultation’ will get pushed to one side, there has been virtually no coverage in the local press and I doubt many cyclists in the area know about it.
Thanks for the kind words!
To keep things positive, don’t get ‘haters’ confused with ‘indifferent’. There are many people out there who simply don’t know about cycling. I shall be writing about this in depth this week but put simply you can’t blame a population that has been spoon fed car culture for decades to be ambivalent about being weaned on to anything else.
Sadly, local Chambers of Commerce still think that the car is key to business, the local press rely on adverts from car dealerships and letters from residents complaining about cyclists on the pavement, despite no-one querying that they feel safer there because of modern road layouts and driving standards, and finally local councils that simply doesn’t understand cycling because it doesn’t feature in their lives on a personal or professional level.
Ignorance is bliss apparently. Except if you’re a cyclist of course.