Thursday, 17 December 2009

Desperately seeking Member Champions for Cycling

In February 2008, Cycling England wrote to all local highway authorities in England encouraging them to agree to appoint a "Member Champion for Cycling".

Cycling England suggested this idea because they wanted to support local authorities to increase the promote of cycling and recognised that elected Councillors play a key role in setting the priorities of their Councils. The invitation outlined the range of support that Cycling England were offering to councillors who signed up to become a Member Champion for Cycling. This included a number of benefits for the local authority, including:

  • Assisting the local authority in meeting a wide range of policy targets and objectives
  • Facilitating the proper consideration of cycling in the various council meetings and other activities
  • Improving relations with external stakeholder groups, particularly those involving local cyclists
  • Enabling the Council to tap into best practice in other authorities and to link into the free support available from Cycling England.
  • Offering personal and professional development opportunities for those taking on the role.
  • Encouraging networking between individual councillors with an interest in promoting cycling.

Cycling England were also offering a funded toolkit to support designated Member Champions for cycling in local highway authorities, including districts with agency agreements covering highways / traffic. This comprised:

  • Welcome pack, including advice on best practice, key references and a flexible presentation on how cycling can contribute to a council’s policies and strategies.
  • A support hotline to Cycling England’s consultancy team.
  • Each Champion can make use of Cycling England consultants’ time in support of their role, involving phone / email support, meetings / site visits as appropriate.
  • Cycling Champions email discussion group linking them to Champions in other authorities.
  • Regular e-newsletter and publishing advice / guidance for champions
  • Free attendance at Cycling England led professional training events for Champions on existing and emerging cycling issues (subject to demand).
  • National Standard Level 3 cycle training ‘refresher’ course to bring the Champion up to date on developments in cycle training, including the new Bikeability programme.
 Which all sounds really goovy and very helpful. So thinking that it would be useful to know how many Greater Manchester councils had taken up Cycling England's kind offer of support, but having failed to find any details on the various council websites, we submitted Freedom of Information requests to all ten GM councils asking for details.

Now all you devotees of the Freedom of Information Act will know that local government bodies covered by the Act are supposed to respond to requests within 20 working days or at least tell you that they are going to take longer to give you an answer.

So how did the Greater Manchester councils perform?  Well all but one Council answered within the 20 working days with Oldham Council topping the chart responding within a blisteringly fast response of one day. The response times for the other councils were:  Bolton (4 days), Salford (5),  Trafford (6),  Stockport (8), Rochdale (9), Wigan (11), Bury (18), Tameside (18). Manchester didn't manage to respond within the 20 working days timeline and as this blog goes to press the clock is still counting.....

But have any of the local authorities seen fit to take up Cycling England's kind offer of really useful support and appointed a Member Champion for Cycling we hear you ask?  Well the results were:

Bolton:  None (See note 1)

Bury:  None (See note 2)

Manchester: None (See note 3)

Oldham:  Stephen Barrow. Appointed 12/2/2009.  (Email:

Rochdale: Wera Hobhouse.  (Email:

Salford: Jim Dawson. Appointed 3/2009.  (Email:

Stockport: Stuart Bodsworth. Appointed 5/2008. (Email:

Tameside: None (See note 4).

Trafford: None (See note 5)

Wigan. None

So far only 40% councils within Greater Manchester are making use of the support offered by Cycling England with Bury suggesting that they are "anticipating making an appointment in the very near future" which will take the tally up to 50%.

Five councils have not appointed a Member Champion for Cycling although four of these (Bolton, Manchester, Tameside and Trafford) do have councillors with cycling somewhere within their remits.

Assuming that there were no onerous strings attached to the support being offered by Cycling England it seems very odd that so many Councils have declined to make the most of the support being offered from the national body responsible for promoting cycling in England. Specially at a time when most Council's are claiming that they want to promote and increase cyling levels.

We do hope it's not because the various Councils couldn't meet the "person specification" required to nominate a Councillor as a Member Champion for Cycling which required:

"A councillor who is a regular cyclist. You could be an executive or a nonexecutive member, depending on your Council’s policy on Champions. You will have technical support from competent, senior, officers."

Perhaps readers would like to email the Councillors below and ask them if they intend to join Cycling England's scheme.


(1) Bolton Council has not specifically appointed a Member Champion for Cycling, but does have Members assigned to the Bolton Cycle Forum to promote cycling within their political parties and the Authority as a whole.

Councillor John Byrne             (Email:
Councillor Richard Silvester  (Email:
Councillor Michael Hollick      (Email:
Councillor David Chadwick   (Email:
Councillor John Higson          (Email:

(2) The Executive Member for Environment & Transport has discussed the matter with senior officers of Bury Council and is anticipating making an appointment in the very near future.

(3)  Lead councillor for cycling is Emily Lomax. Email:

(4)  The following Members have specific interests within their portfolios:  Alan Whitehead, Andrew Doubleday (Chair of Council Cycle Forum), Barrie Holland (Chair Carbon Reduction Panel).

For Andrew Doubleday and Barrie Holland  email:
Alan Whitehead email

(5)  the Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, Alan Mitchell, has as part of his remit the promotion of cycling within the borough. He will receive updates from the Cycle Forum, and reports about cycling measures being implemented across the borough.  (Email:

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