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Police Commissioner articles

LCCG meets Sir Clive

Three LCCG members [Elizabeth Barner, Matt Scull and Eric Ludlow] met Sir Clive Loader on 8 April. The meeting with Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner [PCC] took place at Police HQ in Narborough – where we were amused to find that three car parking spaces had been reserved for us, as we shackled our bikes to the front railings.
The meeting itself went well – we went through the presentation that we had prepared and pointed out that we did not have unrealistic expectations regarding the potential for his officers to have an impact on cycling levels. But we did believe that enforcing road traffic legislation would go some way towards making the roads a more pleasant place for cyclists. He was sympathetic, and could see the ‘quid pro quo’ argument that if the police were visibly targeting cyclists for pavement cycling, they should also be looking to police the few areas that are set aside for us – advanced stop zones and on-carriageway cycle lanes.
Included in our presentation was a page of Tweets collected by @CycleHatred – a Twitter user who retweets hate-filled comments made about cyclists on Twitter. These clearly had an impact on Sir Clive, who was taken aback by the level of abuse they contained. They showed very clearly our need for protection on the roads, and for individual officers to understand our vulnerability as road users. Sir Clive agreed to look at what, if any, awareness training new officers receive on the issue – we offered to talk to groups of officers about road use from a cyclist’s perspective if that would help.
We agreed to stay in contact, and to meet again if necessary.
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Cycling and the prospective Police Commissioners

Police chief candidate ignores vulnerable road users – updated below, 3/3 responses.

Leicester Cycling Campaign Group (LCCG) believes that cyclists and other vulnerable road users are being ignored by one of the three police chief candidates. We contacted all three of the candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections to take place on Thursday 15 November. The question posed on 8 November was simple: ‘On behalf of the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group, can you tell me your policy regarding road safety? In particular what will you do to protect vulnerable road users?’

The Labour candidate, Sarah Russell, replied within the hour. Suleman Nagdi (Independent) responded after a little over a day. Both their responses are available below. At the time of writing, nothing has been heard from the Conservative candidate, Clive Loader.

This is just not good enough. Safety on our city and county roads should be a crucial issue for anyone seeking to take responsibility for Leicester and Leicestershire’s police force. The high-profile incidents involving Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton have shown how any cyclist can become an accident statistic in the blink of an eye. And the recent tragic death of a cyclist in Bruntingthorpe illustrates how high the stakes can be.

It is therefore deeply concerning that one of the PCC candidates could not even take the time to respond to our enquiry on the subject. Apart from being discourteous, it suggests a total lack of regard for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The LCCG is not a party-political organisation, and we would not seek to dictate how, or even if, you should vote on 15 November. But if you have any interest in the safety of vulnerable road users on our streets, then we would urge you to view how the three candidates have responded to our question and take this into account when making your decision.

We sent the email below to the prospective Police Commissioners for Leicestershire Police Force on November 8th. They are Suleman Nagdi (Independent, info@nagdi.co.uk), Sarah Russell (Labour, sarah4pcc@gmail.com) and Sir Clive Loader (Conservative, clive4leicspcc@gmail.com).

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Dear PCC Candidate.

On behalf of the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group, can you tell me your policy regarding road safety?

In particular what will you do to protect vulnerable road users?

Yours Sincerely,

Mat Scull

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Campaigns Officer,
Leicester Cycle Campaign Group

info@lccg.org.uk

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We will update this page with their responses.
Update

Sarah Russell replied just 40 minutes after we mailed her, with this

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Hi Mat,

Thank you for your email. As a cyclist myself I understand the concerns you raise and think the answer is probably not very straight forward.

In terms of how the Police respond to accidents and near misses involving cyclists I think it varies, I have friends who have had a really positive and proactive response and others where sadly the responsive has been more dismissive.

I would like to see better connection between the Police, local Councils and cycling groups when planning road changes and looking at accident ‘black spots’ so that we engineer out problems wherever possible.

I would also like to see the Police make full use of ‘safer driving’ courses that can have a positive impact on getting drivers to have more awareness of other road user and also the powers to charge people when driving without due attention (using a mobile phone etc).

Whilst I wil not be able to influence operational decisions made by the Police if I am elected as Commissioner I would seek to work with cycling groups (I’m aware these don’t exists everywhere in the Force area but there are a number made up of casual, commuting and club cyclists), local Councils and senior Police officers to identify problem areas and responses and look at ways to improve them.

I hope this answers your questions, please don’t hesitate to come back to me if you have any further concerns or questions.

Kind Regards

Sarah

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Update 2 – Suleman Nagdi

Suleman got back to us in  a day and a half with this  –

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Dear Mr Scull,

Road safety is very important and we must ensure that roads are safe for all that use them including pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers. We must work hard together to educate and inform those who have behaved irresponsibly on the roads through a process of education. Recently, I have liaised with Friends of the Earth over a proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit.

As a community volunteer for over 25 years, my expertise lies in the ability to listen to the needs of the community and then relay this to government and statutory authorities by acting as the bridge between the community and statutory authorities. Should I become successful in my bid to be elected as PCC, I will continue to liaise with people from the community such as yourself on important issues such as road safety.

Thank you very much for contacting me regarding this very important issue.

Regards,

Suleman Nagdi.
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At time of last update (10pm on 13th Nov), Clive Loader had yet to respond.

Update 14th Nov – response from Clive Loader, copied below.

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Dear Mr Scull

I can only apologise that did not reply to your email before but, I have to admit, yours was in a ‘pile’ of over 50 received on one day to all of which I thought that I had responded; looking back, I found that I missed yours.  Again, my apologies.

Of course, safely for cyclists on our streets is a very high priority for any PCC – particularly so at a time when, quite rightly, we are extolling the virtues of using old-fashioned ‘muscle power’ rather than increasing, even further, vehicle pollution.  So we need to do all that we can to make cyclists as safe as possible.

How?  There are several strands, I think.

One – the roads. We need, wherever possible, to encourage local authorities to allow bespoke cycle lanes etc – thus providing some physical separation between vehicle and cyclist.

Two – training. We need to ensure that training is available to reduce the risks – training for all road users.  For the cyclists (I am old enough to remember passing my Cycling Proficiency Test – administered, as I recall, by the local ‘bobby’) it must include such dangers as those imposed by large lorries turning at junctions unaware that there is a cyclist alongside etc, or the stupidity of ‘jumping’ red traffic lights.  And we also need vehicle drivers to have an increased awareness of the dangers to cyclists – this would imply, perhaps, an raised emphasis during the Theory and Practical Driving Tests.

Three – equipment.  Firstly, there is still, I judge, an element of our society who feel that wearing a helmet is, somehow, ‘un-cool’.  We need to address this – through teaching, through training, and through youngsters seeing those who they admire wearing cycle helmets (e.g. a photo of Leicester City footballers /Leicester Tigers players wearing them……?).  And, secondly, there is the issue of proper cycle maintenance….. again, previously a part of the Proficiency Test in days of yore.
Four.

Four – police reaction.  There is clearly a role for the police in helping here.  Firstly, when they see people on bikes doing silly/illegal things (e.g. going through red traffic lights) they need to stop and issue warnings etc.  Secondly, and most critically, they need to do the same when they see motorists endangering cyclists (overly aggressive driving, overtaking much too close to vulnerable cyclists, using mobile phones while driving etc); I will encourage them to do so.

There are doubtless plenty of other areas where you, as the expert, will feel that increased emphasis/action is needed.  I look forward to hearing your ideas.  All that I can say is that, if elected, I will work closely with groups such as yours, take your advice, and then act upon it to increase the overall safety of cyclists on the roads of Leics and Rutland.

I do hope that this goes some way to answering your questions – if not, pse come back to me either by email or on the mobile phone number below.

Best wishes, Clive
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