Election Cycle 2016 – Strangford

At the start of April 2016 the President of Cycling UK (and Channel 4 News presenter) Jon Snow contacted all Northern Ireland Assembly Election candidates to ask for their support in three simple policy asks around cycling investment, building a greenway network and delivering an Active Travel Act.

Election_Cycle_2016

The responses received (to date) from candidates standing in Strangford are listed below. You can also click on each name to contact your local candidates through Twitter or Facebook to ask them to respond if they haven’t already. (Social media contact details are not available for some candidates.)

Name Party Investment Greenways Legislation
Kellie Armstrong Alliance YES YES YES
Comments: “The Alliance Party is fully committed to the delivery of first class integrated, sustainable and active travel for the people of Northern Ireland and recognises the wide ranging health, environmental, social and economic benefits of cycling in particular.

“My colleague Chris Lyttle established and Chaired the All Party Assembly Group on Cycling and to work with organisations like Sustrans NI and NI Greenways to mobilise MLAs in support of cycling.

“The APG on Cycling hosted a number of important stakeholder events to facilitate supportive input from MLA and NGOs into the Assembly Regional Development Committee Cycling Inquiry and the Department for Regional Development Cycling Strategy.

“As the then Director for Northern Ireland for the Community Transport Association I provided feedback on the DRD Cycling Strategy asking for investment into Wheels to Work schemes to enable young people to avail of bicycles as a way to access employment and training.

“The APG on Cycling also hosted and participated in events to promote Bike Week and the Sustrans/DRD Cycling Unit Belfast Bike Life Report which has established public support for increased investment in cycling provision.

“Alliance has supported enhanced cycle provision and raised awareness of underinvestment in comparison with other regions, which DRD has estimated will decrease from £4.17 per head of population in 2014/15 to only £1.30 per head of population for 2015/16.

“Alliance Party MLAs will therefore fully support the implementation of the cycling strategy and a wide range of enhanced cycling provision in Northern Ireland, including:

  1. Increased investment in cycling of at least £10 per head of population.
  2. The development and realisation of the health, rural regeneration and tourism potential of Greenways across the region and where possibly with connectivity to the rest of the island.
  3. An Active Travel Act to incorporate cycling and walking provision into land-use planning and new development.

“We will work with everyone to make this the best cycling region in these islands.”

Jonathan Bell DUP ? ? ?
Comments:
Joe Boyle SDLP YES YES YES
Comments: “I believe that the redevelopment of our greenways and certain disused railway lines represent a significant opportunity for that all important community-based infrastructural development.

“The Great Western Greenway in Mayo remains a shining example and testament to the economic benefits that such greenway developments can contribute to local tourism and the job creation that flows from visitors and users of such facilities.
“Greenway development will assist with building and sustaining tourism interests such as walking, cycling and geotourism as well delivering on employment opportunities in hospitality and year round tourism.
“It is therefore important to the SDLP, not only because we champion the causes throughout the environment, by having held for a number of year’s the role of Minister for the Environment (DOE), but equally within the recently established  11 larger council’s, SDLP elected members are actually Chairpersons, such as myself of the Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Environment Committee, to explore the possibilities of plans for cycling and walking Greenways to include:
Glens of Antrim Greenway
Greenway of Thrones(North Antrim)
Comber to Ballynahinch
Cookstown to Magherafelt
Cookstown to Dungannon
Downpatrick to Newcastle.
“As we all move forward with healthier lifestyles it is critically important that society is ready with the requirements necessary for everyone to avail of, so that keeping healthy can be something we can all look forward to.”
Stephen Cooper TUV ? ? ?
Comments:
Stephen Crosby UKIP YES YES YES
Comments: “As a daily cyclist for many years I welcome your three aims and recommend cycling to all ages as a beneficial activity. It is imperative that cycling training is offered to those who wish to cycle and it is my priority to provide safe cycle routes in Strangford which will also boost rural tourism. Our manifesto illustrates our commitment to preserve and enjoy our countryside.

“I commend my pledge to Strangford in relation to cycling, road safety, commuting and rural tourism.

“I see the urgent need for an over-arching economic development plan for Strangford:

  • Major roads and infrastructure investment with a concerted policy to remove potholes and re-marking of roads and boundaries with luminous paint
  • Rural proofing public services especially GP availability for communities over 3,000 pop.
  • Develop a major tourist industry based on Strangford’s key tourist sites, natural beauty, farm tourism and accommodation businesses, targeted specifically at the 40 million strong family tourism market within 4 hours drive of the Lancashire ports
  • Reinforce the sea defences and incorporate cycle/walking paths ie: from Ballywalter-Ballyhalbert-Portavogie and  Greyabbey-Kircubbin-Portaferry
  • A cafe/tourist site to be located at Burr Point, near Ballyhalbert village, the most easterly point in Ireland
  • A major overhaul of the education and schools system with 2 new 1,000+ pupil Grammar Schools for Strangford to avoid 2,338 schoolchildren having to travel out of Strangford every school day. Less commuting in Strangford will make cycling safer on our roads.”
Georgia Grainger Greens YES YES YES
Comments: “I support a £25/person/year dedicated cycling budget to make accessible, contiguous and protected infrastructure in urban areas a reality across Northern Ireland. By providing people of all ages with safe and fit-for-purpose cycle infrastructure across the region, we can expect a significant modal shift towards active transport, while also improving accessibility of our towns and cities for families and disabled people. The public health outcomes of cycling investment are clearly demonstrable across several EU states, and our population will benefit financially, and through improved quality of life, from a shift to cycling and other active transport modes, not to mention the long-term return on investment for the health service.

“I support a strong traffic-free greenways strategy with funding attached to enable rural inter-town and inter-village active travel routes across the region, improving accessibility to rural locations while incentivising rural development and promoting tourism opportunities. The public health of rural communities is often overlooked in policy discussions, and greenway development is one of many steps we can and should take to address some of these growing concerns for rural communities.

“I support the introduction of an Active Travel Bill which incorporates cycling and walking provision, and accessibility impact assessment considerations for each, into land-use planning and new developments, both rurally and within urban areas. I would also support legislative measures, where within the remit of the NI Assembly, to incentivise bicycle- and pedestrian-centred developments within urban centres, and a move towards a cellular block structure for town centres and residential areas, to strongly limit through traffic while retaining access for emergency services, deliveries and service, residents and disabled people.”

Simon Hamilton DUP ? ? ?
Comments:
Harry Harvey DUP ? ? ?
Comments:
Dermot Kennedy Sinn Féin YES YES YES
Comments: “A big hearty YES YES YES to all 3 x questions.

“I love my bike and getting out for my bike in the evening for recreation….unfortunately my work North Ireland does not allow me to cycle but for working in Dublin I have just purchased a fold up bike and am very much looking forward to using it there!

“I love the old pictures of Dublin showing droves of people commuting around the city on their bikes.

“Enough cannot be said in a positive way to promote, raise awareness & lobby government for new and imaginative initiatives across the island to return to the day when for so many reasons biking was to the fore in society.

“For my part as a politician I will do all I can within my party to support and help drive the initiatives others have made come to fruition thus far!

“Let all parties peddle together for the promotion of cycling!!!”

Rab McCartney Independent ? ? ?
Comments:
Michelle McIlveen DUP YES YES YES
Comments: “As you will be aware throughout my time as Regional Development Minister I have been totally supportive of the development of traffic-free greenways and have sought ways to ensure that there are safer cycling routes.

“I have demonstrated this commitment by announcing on the 21 January 2016 my intention to produce a Strategic Plan for Greenways for Northern Ireland. Work is progressing on this. I am hopeful that the plan will provide a framework to assist Councils and other bodies to develop local schemes to increase the greenway network across Northern Ireland. In advance of this being completed I announced, in March, a small grants programme for greenways. The purpose of this is to help Councils take forward proposals to improve and develop greenway schemes. I look forward to seeing the results of this.

“As a user of the Comber Greenway I am keen that this facility is extended into Comber town centre and upgraded. The Connswater Greenway is an outstanding example of partnership working and I would like to see this replicated in other areas. Having visited Edinburgh and Nijmegen, and experienced their cycling facilities, I believe that Northern Ireland can learn from them.

“The DUP has made the following manifesto pledge:

Greenways NI
The DUP is committed to developing a Greenway Network across Northern Ireland that provides traffic free space for walkers and cyclists for both leisure and commuting. We believe that this presents a perfect opportunity for partnership work and funding between the new Department of Infrastructure and the newly created 11 councils to develop such projects across Northern Ireland”

“The promotion of cycling is also consistent with the DUP’s commitment to promote public health and healthy ageing.”

Bill McKendry Conservatives ? ? ?
Comments:
Jimmy Menagh Independent YES YES YES
Comments: “I would support funding for cycling in Northern Ireland. I support development of traffic-free greenways across the country and support Active Travel Act provision.”
Mike Nesbitt UUP YES YES YES
Comments: “I am happy to support all three of your pledges. I believe you are aware of our commitments in our Manifesto, and of course Danny Kennedy’s rollout of the cycling revolution as DRD Minister”
Philip Smith UUP YES YES YES
Comments: “I am more than happy to support the 3 policy areas detailed below and my party manifesto outlines our commitment to them.

 “More locally as someone from the Comber/Killinchy area, which has benefited greatly from cycling economically as cyclists come to enjoy our beautiful countryside and welcoming cafes, I am delighted to support this agenda. We have seen a massive growth in cycling locally spearheaded by the successful Killinchy Cycling Club and cycling both as a sport and method of transport continues to flourish.
“Comber Greenway has been a highly successful cycle and walking route and I am very supportive of extending its route into Comber town and beyond to increase the benefits even further. Hopefully this great example can be replicated across Northern Ireland.”

DUP – Democratic Unionist Party
SDLP – Social Democratic and Labour Party
TUV – Traditional Unionist Voice
UKIP – United Kingdom Independence Party
UUP – Ulster Unionist Party

If you’re a candidate and would like to share your views on our questions to make Northern Ireland a better place for cycling, then we want to hear from you. Please email us at nigreenways@gmail.com and we’ll update this page as soon as possible.

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Election Cycle 2016 is a joint effort by the good people at:

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