County Council candidate replies to our questions

A couple of weeks ago we asked you to submit questions about public transport and safer streets for Epping Forest’s County Council candidates. Thanks to everybody who responded.

Many of the questions we received were about specific issues, eg particular roads and bus services, so weren’t suitable for this questionnaire. Once the elections are out of the way we’ll look at addressing those questions individually with the relevant local authority.

These are the four questions we asked the candidates, with their responses below – click on the candidate’s name to read their replies. If there’s no arrow next to the candidate’s name we didn’t receive a reply.

  1. What are your plans to increase infrastructure for safer cycling within the district? With pollution levels on the rise and obesity a big issue safer cycling/green transport for all ages is a major issue.
  2. What are your views are on the frequent deer deaths car collisions on Epping Forest’s forest roads, notably Woodridden Hill?? The driving conditions on these roads at night especially are poor, no lighting, windy roads and cars drive extremely fast down them.
  3. What is your opinion of the Bus Services Bill? Are there any parts you particularly support or oppose?
  4. Essex County Council’s Highways and Transport budget totals £208 million (Revenue budget £75 million, Capital budget £133 million). The Passenger Transport funding from the Revenue Budget is just £75 million, most of which goes on concessionary fares. If elected would you campaign on the County Council to increase funding for Passenger Transport, including more money for our local bus services?

 

Buckhurst Hill and Loughton South

Joseph Barkham – Liberal Democrats
Simon Heap – Green Party
Valerie Metcalf – Conservative Party
Jason Phillips - Labour Party
  1. I would want to make it a safer area for cycling, possibly by ensuring that speeding limits are adhered to with better regulation of the roads and with more police patrolling.
  2. Poor lighting of roads not only effects animal welfare, it is a hazard to drivers and pedestrians for a variety of reasons. I would try to get roads anywhere in Epping Forest lit brightly where there is a great public need for it like Woodridden Hill.
  3. To be honest, I haven’t read the Bus Services Bill, but I will.
  4. If I was elected, as a Labour County Councillor and Socialist Appeal supporter for Epping Forest I would not support any cuts to not only public transport but any public services by any political organisation in charge of our council etc. This would include myself trying to reverse any cuts implemented that have been a detriment to people’s lives and also investing in more public spending for new services.I would ask the other councillors to stop further reductions to services by getting them to not implement anymore cuts first of all- stopping further cuts is the most important thing to me. But as a Labour voice in the council my arguments would be that we have a responsibility to the poorest people we represent to not only stop further cuts but to reverse them, as a prime example is the 167 bus which goes through the area I’m standing in and whose funding has been cut by TFL and the County Council and has therefore been curtailed, stopping at Loughton station from Ilford rather than Debden, making lots of lives more difficult.To answer the question simply, is yes and more.

Chigwell and Loughton Broadway

Joanna Alexander-Sefre - Liberal Democrats

I completely support issues that you raise in relation to improving the infrastructure for safer cycling and green transport.

I do feel strongly about speed limits and not only deer deaths but also safe driving for horse riders such as also myself so this would be a priority issue across the whole of Epping Forest.

I have not studied in detail the Bus Services Bill but again a priority once elected as also concessionary fares and local bus services.

I have lived in Epping Forest for over 30 years and look forward to the opportunity of serving the local community if elected this Thursday. The council needs a greater balance and that is best provided by the Liberal Democrats.

Mitch Diamond-Conway – Labour Party
Gagan Mohindra – Conservative Party

Epping and Theydon Bois

Simon Bullough - Labour Party
  1. The Essex County Labour Party manifesto includes a commitment to not only implement but also extend the Essex Cycling Strategy. Wherever feasible I support schemes to increase cyclist safety by separating cyclists from other traffic but due to the nature of many of the district’s roads this is often difficult. I would support an increase in campaigns to raise awareness of drivers to the needs of and challenges faced by cyclists when sharing roads with other traffic. I would work with district authorities and the Corporation of London to increase provision of facilities for safer leisure cycling within the district. I must admit to not being a cyclist myself, but I am often told by those that are that one of the biggest challenges for cyclists is the poor state of repair of many of our roads. I am sure that our manifesto commitment to a ‘see it, fix it’ approach to potholes will go a long way to addressing these issues.
  2. As someone who is a long time campaigner on environmental and animal welfare issues the number of wildlife deaths on the roads is a great concern to me. I will not pretend to have the answers to this as I don’t believe that there are easy answers. I have recently been made aware of the success in other parts of Europe of a number of technological measures taken where deer collisions are an even larger problem than in Epping Forest. I wouldn’t support a large scale increase in street lighting within the forest as artificial light has too much of a negative effect on other wildlife. As you point out in your question much of the problem can be attributed to bad driver behaviour and inappropriate driving style for the nature of the roads. The only immediate method of addressing this is greater enforcement activity along with awareness raising among road users; however with continued cuts to both local councils and the police such measures too often lose out to other priorities.
  3. There are many promising measures outlined in the Bus Services Bill, however so much depends on its implementation. I am always in favour of greater local accountability for services and I would also pick out the measures to encourage easier and integrated ticketing and payment systems across districts. Whilst I can see the measures outlined working to improve provision and use across well used and profitable routes I am less sure that it does much or anything to improve the situation where bus services are a matter of public service rather than a source of profit. Like many in my party I believe that the only way we will achieve an integrated transport system that is fit for purpose and will encourage people back to public as opposed to personal transport is to bring the transport system back under public ownership and control.
  4. Funding for concessionary public transport is a priority for the Labour Party across Essex and we have a manifesto commitment to guaranteeing free bus passes for the elderly and extending them to young people for transport to work and training. Properly provisioned and funded public transport has to be a central part of any social welfare, economic or environmental strategy for either the district, region or country. As I outlined above ultimately I believe there is only one course of action that can achieve this, but even without going to those lengths it is time that return on investment for funding of public transport schemes was judged on more than simple monetary criteria. I would also suggest that it is only by electing a Labour Party candidate to represent you on district and county councils, and in a few weeks time a Labour government, that this change in approach can be achieved.
Barry Johns – UKIP
Christopher Whitbread – Conservative Party
Jon Whitehouse – Liberal Democrats

Loughton Central

Angela Ayre – Labour Party
Jonathan Hunter – Conservative Party
Chris Pond - Independent Loughton Residents Association
  1. Support a Loughton-Chigwell cycle link. I initiated the Loughton cycle by pass route 7 years ago; it has proved very popilar
  2. Have supported the 40mph limit through the forest and would like to see it enforced by average speed cameras
  3. The Bill was given Royal assent yesterday. I don’t know what was left it after the pre-prorogation party negotiations as it hasn’t yet been published, but I was particularly keen on the idea of franchising.
  4. Yes, as I always have. I fought determinedly against ECC’s removal of the subsidy for 20/167, which has led to curtailment of the latter
Paul Rissbrook – Liberal Democrats

North Weald and Nazing

Anthony Jackson – Conservative Party
Stefan Mullard – Labour Party
Arnold Verrall – Liberal Democrats

Ongar and Rural

Maggie McCewen – Conservative Party
Lawrence Mendoza - UKIP
  1. We would like to see cycle paths in all new developments with safe routes to local amenities. UKIP Brentwood and Ongar believe that the infrastructure should be in place before any new developments are built.
  2. My views have been published in Ongar News. There should be warning signs and speed restrictions of 20mph in areas with potential wildlife hazards.
  3. 51% of bus users do not have any other means of transport. This restricts the life style of many. A properly funded transport system for rural areas should be in place. Passengers must be informed at all times on matters relating to their trips. Partnerships based locally and with local control should be a good thing.
  4. I would question the benefits from the expenditure and ask for public consultation. Is value for money being achieved and are the people being served properly? We believe that we there should be an Essex Tax on visitors using our airports. We already pay a Dart charge , a London congestion charge and a redevelopment tax at Newquay airport without any objections. Over 26 million travellers a year use our airports with Essex having a population of less than 2 million.The money collected should be invested into the transport infrastructure for the benefit of Essex residents.
Liam Preston – Labour and Co-operative Party
Brian Surtees – Liberal Democrats
Robin Tilbrook – English Democrats

Waltham Abbey

Ricki Gadsby – Conservative Party
Robert Greyson – Labour Party
Ron McEvoy – UKIP
Dave Plummer - Green Party
  1. Given cycling’s importance for both personal health and the environment, and the associated long term savings for our health services and benefit to local economies, it should be given a much greater priority. If elected I’d do what I can to see increased investment in cycling, particularly a properly integrated cycle path network linking all of Epping Forest’s main towns. Think of how many people drive to a train/tube station in the morning when they could cycle if a safe, integrated infrastructure was there. The decision to install cycle bays at the planned Langston Road Shopping Park while there will be no cycle path on the main road to get people there demonstrates the lack of awareness and joined-up thinking that cyclists currently face from our elected representatives.
  2. I’m currently involved in campaigns to reduce traffic related deer deaths in Epping Forest, particularly on Woodridden Hill. A pedestrian crossing at the Honey Lane end of Woodridden Hill could help reduce speeds, and I believe local campaigners have made good progress towards obtaining one. However, more will need to be done. The City of London is holding an enquiry into deer management in Epping Forest and local groups are looking at possible solutions, such as speed reductions. I’ll continue to work with them to find practical answers – we can’t keep on losing 160+ deer per year to traffic.
  3. The Bus Services Bill, which became an Act on Thursday, has much that’s good in it, such as giving local authorities the chance to set fares and timetables and ensure fares are transferable across operators. Unfortunately the Act will only apply to combined authorities with elected mayors and Cornwall. This means that it won’t apply to us here in Epping Forest. Also, the Act specifically prevents local authorities from setting up their own municipal bus companies, despite their success. Although it’s unlikely that Essex County Council, or Epping Forest District Council, would have taken this opportunity to improve our services it’s very disappointing that the option has been blocked.
  4. Absolutely. Our roads are crowded, parking is an increasing problem and reduced public transport increases social isolation, makes it harder for people to get to work, education and retail. The latter all affect our local economy.It’s important that our roads are properly maintained for the benefit of all road users – a pothole which irritates a motorist could land a cyclist in hospital or worse- but we need to do much more to improve our public transport, particularly the bus routes which should be accessible, affordable and reliable. Subsidies are an investment, not a liability.
Timothy Vaughan – Liberal Democrats