“Our plan is to invest in public transport, encourage walking and cycling, and accelerate the transition to ultra-low-emission transport – reducing the impact of transport on the environment and improving people’s health.” Liberal Democrat policy
What is the challenge?
Public transport has suffered a slow decline over many decades as government and council funding has been cut. Nationally, bus journeys have fallen from 13 billion a year in the 1950s to fewer than five billion in 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to worsen the problem, forcing many transport companies to cut services. Some extra government funding has been set aside but not enough to make up for the reductions over many years.
Meanwhile cycling receives limited support and road vehicles keep growing with only a tiny proportion being electric models.
What will we do?
We will work closely with town and parish councils, public transport operators and community transport providers to maintain and develop new routes and maximise passenger numbers.
We will promote cycling and zero-carbon road transport. We will ensure car parking charges are optimised to balance motorists’ needs with income generation and to encourage residents and visitors to make use of our town centres.
We will also maintain well-managed highways for pedestrians, cyclists, car travel and freight that are vital for a large rural county.
In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat Council will:
- Encourage cycling in general with free lessons for all ages paid for by sponsorship;
- Encourage the purchase of electric bikes and cargo bikes, by promotion of ‘try and buy’ schemes;
- Encourage town and parish councils to install theft-resistant bicycle parking;
- Extend cycle network routes, consulting on, designing and building new cycle routes to bring cyclists safely into, out of, and around our market towns and villages while also supporting a related Parish Paths Partnership (see below);
- Review road layouts to allow the provision of cycle lanes and dedicated cycle routes; where possible;
- Ensure that as part of any planning application for medium to large scale developments, provision is made for cycle routes and that the layout is cycle friendly;
- Ensure that the road maintenance programme considers the need to make roads safer for cyclists;
- Work with bus operators to ensure that all areas receive a zero-carbon service which meets residents’ needs and coordinates with other forms of public and private transport in a pattern of joined-up provision that includes early and late running;
- Review bus subsidies, including those for fuel, to make routes viable;
- Where routes are not financially viable, work with local groups to encourage innovation in the provision of community services.
- Implement the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) Rail Strategy;
- Work positively with neighbouring authorities to ensure that the needs of the region are communicated to central government and the Strategic Rail Authority;
- Actively work with stakeholders to increase the number of stations and train services;
- Work for the reopening of key stations: Wilton, Porton, Devizes and Corsham; and seek opportunities to open new stations (Royal Wootton Bassett, Hullavington);
- Review access to stations through the use of connecting bus services and cycle storage as well as car parks with electric charging points.
- Establish parish path partnerships between Wiltshire Council and the town and parish councils and existing footpath wardens. Thereby review footpath and bridleway maintenance to make them safer and more accessible, while extending the footpath network and focussing on rights of way.
Road vehicles, charging points & roads
- Promote use of electric vehicles through widespread charging points and priority parking;
- Ensure that as part of any planning application, provision is made for electric vehicle recharging points;
- Require all new Wiltshire Council vehicles to be powered by electricity or other zero-carbon sources, including hydrogen;
- Extend access to recharging points in public areas, including council owned car parks and residential streets with street lighting where EV charging points can be fitted;
- Encourage electric powered vehicles with bulk-buy schemes for staff and the general public and through the appropriate inclusion of infrastructure for re-charging and renewable fuelling in the planning of new developments as well as the formation of electric car clubs;
- Increase availability of charging points in council owned car parks and on-street parking in residential areas without private parking;
- Review all car parking charges to ensure that they are sensitive to the needs of the individual towns and parishes, looking to increase the use of market town centres as opposed to out of town hypermarkets and malls.
- Work to make our roads safer for all users, introducing a more responsive approach to reporting and responding to potholes and road repairs;
- Ensure that road maintenance is carried out in a timely fashion and prioritises the needs of motorists and cyclists;
- Work with council officers, environmental groups, energy, transport and other providers to draw up a more detailed roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030.
- Instigate a Local Transport Strategy.