We were back in Sutton, and at the Cock and Bull, on 27 July for our fourth meeting of the year. Just nine of us this time but, as it was only a few days after Sutton Council’s Cycle Summit, the publication of the draft Cycling Delivery Strategy, and our Space for Cycling petition handover to the Leader of the Council, there was plenty to discuss!
Review of the June 2015 meeting
First item on the agenda, after introductions and welcomes, was a review of our June 2015 meeting. There were just two points to note on this:
(1) Review of ‘ward asks’
On 8 July, a letter had been received from Matt Club, Interim Executive Head of Environmental Commissioning at Sutton Council in reference to the Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ review. This letter, in response to an e-mail sent on 29 March requesting an update on the status of the ‘ward asks’ review, is reproduced in an update in the notes of the June meeting.
In summary, Matt apologies for not keeping us up to date, and notes that resources had not been available for a detailed review but had instead been focused on progressing a cycling strategy. The ‘ward asks’ had been taken into account in the Cycling Delivery Strategy, and officers were now investigating the proposals in more detail as some of the schemes may be included in the action plan as part of the strategy.
With the subsequent publication of the draft cycling strategy it is noted that, although working with external stakeholders to identify how a more collaborative approach to cycling projects could be achieved is detailed under objective 5 of the action plan (and Get Sutton Cycling/London Cycling Campaign are mentioned), there is no specific mention of the ‘ward asks’, or of Space for Cycling.
(2) Outstanding actions
- From March 2015 (action 6) Complete blog posts to the questions submitted by Cllr Neil Garratt at the 19 January 2015 Council Meeting. The Green Wrythe Lane post is still outstanding, (Hackbridge had been published as Heart of Hackbridge and Space for Cycling on 31 May 2015).
- From June 2015: Space for Cycling: an update and options for petition handover. To write to Council Leader Ruth Dombey to request a brief meeting to handover the petition and include a photo call. To prepare a cover letter for the petition. Action complete, an update is given in the notes of the June meeting.
There were, of course, two main agenda items. These were the Space for Cycling petition handover, and the publication of the draft cycling delivery strategy with its associated workshop (or cycle summit).
Space for Cycling petition handover to Leader of the Council
Our Space for Cycling petition was presented to Council Leader Ruth Dombey at the cycling strategy consultation workshop on the 23 July 2015. We were delighted that Ruth said, on receipt of the petition: “The political will is there, let’s move forward together!”. A formal response from the council is expected.
Great success, thanks to everyone for your help with this!
For more on this, see Space for Cycling petition presented to the Leader of the Council.
The Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy and consultation workshop
Both the cycling strategy and the consultation workshop were talked about at length (and there will be more on these in future posts). The production of Sutton’s cycling strategy is, of course, a direct result of the engagement Get Sutton Cycling had with Sutton Council in September 2014 (see the notes to agenda item 1 of our November 2014 meeting). It was disappointing, therefore, that the cycling strategy workshop had not recognised this. No mention of our engagement, no mention of Space for Cycling.
It was felt that the consultation workshop had been useful. However, the feedback from the breakout sessions (a choice of any one of six, corresponding to the six objectives in the strategy) had been found to be variable. It was clear, from what some contributors had said, that a certain amount of ‘old thinking’ was still prevalent. Nevertheless, we were impressed that around 15 Sutton’s councillors, and Tom Brake MP, Carshalton and Wallington, had attended the event.
It was also encouraging that the council has appointed a Cycling Champion for the borough, and we look forward to working with Councillor Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat, Beddington South – Manuel was Sutton’s ninth councillor to show his support for Space for Cycling) as a key point of contact. It is important, though, for the council to support the efforts of councillors, across all parties, who wish to help take this work forward. We were pleased, therefore, that Ruth Dombey had said she recognised the contributions of Councillor Neil Garratt (Conservative, Beddington South – the first councillor to show his support) and that working together was a key message.
There was a general discussion on the draft cycling strategy, starting with whether we though the strategy was strategic enough. Cllr Jill Whitehead had said at the workshop that the council would now be taking a more proactive and strategic approach to cycling, so this was promising.
The next stage would be for our group to prepare a response to the draft cycling strategy. Everyone is encouraged to complete the online survey individually, and invited to contribute towards a group response from Get Sutton Cycling. Ideally, a draft response needs to be prepared before the end of August in time for review ahead of the 7 September closing date.
The remaining agenda items began with feedback from a recent LCC Local Groups Forum, attended by Charles Martin.
Feedback on LCC Local Groups Forum (16 July)
The Local Groups Forum, hosted by LCC, takes place quarterly and representatives from all borough local groups are invited to attend (generally group coordinators, but not exclusively so, any LCC members who wish to represent their borough can attend).
The main item on the agenda this time was an outline of LCC’s strategic objectives for 2014-2018. These objectives include a focus to ensure that there is a healthy and diverse local group in every borough (in relation to factors such as size, governance, campaigning ability and event management).
A ‘healthy and diverse’ local group would have people taking on roles for key areas (coordinator, chair, secretary, treasurer, campaigns officer, rides, etc), and include people from a range of backgrounds, ethnicity, and gender identities actively engaging with the group (e.g. holding group positions, attending meetings or participating in discussions and events (which could include online)).
In order to measure the current status of each group, LCC conducted the first Local Group survey in June/July 2014. Groups were asked to self-score themselves and rate different components of their group’s activity and current set-up. The components for evaluation were:
- Website – how good a local group website is / how well it is utilised / quality and currency of content / design / number of visits and clicks
- Social Media – whether a group utilised key social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, and if so, how well these are used – active presence through regular postings? Someone responsible for updating? Active following? Effective group management of pages / channels?
- Council Relationship – the local groups’ relationship with local councillors, the borough cycling officer, or other committees or contacts in the council.
- Events & Rides – the ability to organise and host events and rides. Measures of success include frequency of events, number of group members involved in organising events, popularity and participation in events by group members / local people. Awareness of local group events in wider community.
- Active Group – subjective self-assessment based on the level and success of events / campaigning work or other aspects of group activity. Low score implies group believes it could do a lot more.
- Campaigning – this could include how a local group feels it works with the council to push for local improvements. Or their ability to influence decisions or consult on cycling issues in their borough. Or it might be their ability to get other local people to sign petitions or support group campaigning work.
- Visibility in borough – do local people know about the group? Do lots of people come on rides, attend meetings or get involved in online discussions? Are local people aware of the work of the group?
- Media – does the group write press releases ahead of events or campaigns? Do the local media publicise or report on the group’s activities? Does the group know how to engage with local media or have someone in the group who is happy to act as a media contact?
- Diversity – how would the group rate the diversity of your group members and those that attend rides, meetings and events? Think about age, race, faith, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Is the group aware of best practice in Equality and Human Rights? Do they know how to identify areas of their work that could be made more inclusive or representative or make them conform with best practice?
The results of last year’s survey (which was quite limited) suggest that the components that Sutton appeared to do best in were ‘social media’, ‘active group’, and ‘diversity’. Slightly below these came ‘website’, ‘events and rides’, ‘campaigning and media’. ‘Council relationship’ and ‘visibility in borough’ were rated as our weaker points.
LCC propose to re-issue the Local Groups survey in the coming weeks, and then provide updated scores for each borough to track progress. So keep an eye out for this.
The discussions on this strategic objective at the Local Groups Forum produced many ideas and suggestions. These included how gender could be a quick win (given that 50% of the population is female), engaging with more students, and building relationships with neighbouring boroughs (something we are actively doing through attendance at some Croydon, Merton and Kingston meetings).
As a result of all this, we discussed the possibility of having meetings in different locations and at different venues, and from time to time combining with meetings with those of neighbouring boroughs. There were also ideas put forward about talking to people about why they don’t cycle, and interviewing very new cyclists.
September 2015 borough news and update
Ideas for the September 2015 Borough news and update for London Cyclist (deadline 24 August) were suggested, to include: Space for Cycling petition handover; Cycle Summit; draft Cycling Delivery Strategy,…. (Previous editions available from our Newsletters page).
Ride London, FreeCycle
Ride London FreeCycle, Saturday 1 August. This would be the first time that the LCC in Sutton had not directly helped with a led ride from Sutton to central London. Over the last ten or so years (since the inception of the event as Hovis Freewheel) we had provided ride leaders and marshals (and last years led ride features in Our feeder ride to FreeCycle quiz!). The LCC have secured a ride leader and marshals for this event though, and a led ride will be taking place from Sutton, starting at Trinity Square at 9am. Alternatively, take your bike on the train to join the ride (or consider hiring a bike, e.g. London Bicycle Tour Company. Ride London FreeCycle is highly recommended, and always a fun event.
Other current consultations
LCC End Lorry Danger
LCC’s End Lorry Danger campaign launched 22 July.
Dates of future meetings
The fourth Monday, of possibly alternate, months is being considered, and perhaps take these meetings to different locations in the borough and/or supplement with other events. For example, visit the new, emerging, Quietways in other London boroughs; have joint meetings with neighbouring boroughs.
Our next meeting will, however, take place on the third Monday in August (as the fourth Monday is a bank holiday), 24 August, when we will start to consolidate our response to the Cycling Delivery Strategy.
John Courtman, our St Helier cycling champion, has arranged to meet with Sutton Council’s newly appointed Cycling Champion Cllr Manuel Abellan to visit the Rosehill area of the St Helier ward on 10 August.
Next meeting: Monday, 24 August 2015, details on the Meet-up page. Please join us if you can.