Active Travel — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:04 am on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Conservative, Winchester 10:04 am, 9th July 2019

I have three points to make and, not surprisingly as a former Public Health Minister, I will begin with health. I very much enjoyed working with the Minister’s predecessor on creating some of the Government’s plans. Part two of the child obesity strategy, which I was responsible for bringing into place, was important for the obesity crisis that we face in this country. It was not all about the sugar tax, although I place on record how important that is. It must continue, despite protestations to the contrary. The obesity strategy was about moving more and giving children options for cycling. As the Minister’s predecessor said, it is about producing plans that mean a 12-year-old can cycle on the road with some sort of confidence.

My second point is on money and infrastructure. I was a vice chair of the all-party parliamentary cycling group when I first came to the House. We recommended in our “Get Britain Cycling” report, published in April 2013, that we should create a cycling budget of £10 per person. I pay tribute to the Government because, as has been said, investment in cycling and walking in England has trebled since 2010 from around £2 per person annually to around £7.50 per person. That is a success story. Another key recommendation of that report, which has been mentioned so many times since, is that local authorities should deliver cycle-friendly improvements to their existing roads. We will hear a lot this morning about new developments and how they must be connected up with cycle roads. They must, but just as most of our housing is existing housing, most of our roads are existing roads, and I want them to be transformed.

In Winchester we have a new local community action group called Cycle Winchester, which is campaigning to make the city better by bike. It is an excellent organisation that has arranged many mass cycle rides in the centre of Winchester, and it is working with the local council. We have something called the City of Winchester movement strategy, an important element of which will be a local cycling and walking infrastructure plan. Cycle Winchester is a very good, dedicated charity run by people who want cycling to be better in the area that I represent, but what support can the Government give to it? My hon. Friend Robert Courts talked about the comprehensive spending review; surely, that is where we have to look.

We have talked about the carbon emissions net zero ambition in this Parliament, which is important, but local authorities will have to deliver so much of that. They only intend to produce an infrastructure plan; the Government want them to produce it, but they do not require them to. My council has declared a climate emergency, but what does that mean for cycling paths and dedicated cycle routes? We have to keep cyclists and cars separate. That means dedicated cycle lanes and investment, and making sure that local authorities carry through with their intentions to make that happen.