Questions for the Ely East by-election candidates

We have asked the candidates in the District Council Ely East by-election for their responses to the following questions about cycling and transport issues.

We will post their replies as and when we receive them.

  1. There has recently been a consultation regarding cycling along the river. Can you give your opinions on whether this should be allowed and what if any restrictions should apply?
    John Borland (IND) In principle, cyclists should be allowed to ride their bikes anywhere that is safe and is not private property. This would include most rivers banks around Ely. There are particular choke points along the Waterside area where the needs of cyclists must be balanced against the safety and comfort of the many pedestrian users.
    Lis Every (CON) In my opinion cyclists should be allowed to cycle anywhere it is safe for them to do so.  By safe I mean their own safety but also the safety of all other road users including pedestrians. This includes travelling along the river but here there needs to be particular sensitivity to the needs of others at the various places where room is at a premium. There will be places, therefore, where cyclists may have to dismount in order to enable the safety of all other users.
    Jane Frances (LAB) In principle, yes. I would want to look at creating a cycle-path to pass behind the Cutter Inn because the path is busy and narrow there. I have always been surprised that cycling is currently not permitted by the river, particularly as Broad Street is too narrow for cars plus cyclists. See also Q 3 re Broad St-Back Hill junction.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) I know that this is an area that has caused a lot of concern recently. I believe that cycling along the river should be allowed. However, in the areas where there is a small area of pavement, it should be restricted for the safely of both cyclists and pedestrians. The path is very narrow in places and at one point, outside the Cutter, is directly alongside the river. I feel a little common sense should prevail for the safety of all concerned.
  2. The southern by-pass is now almost certain to go ahead. Can you outline any cycling infrastructure improvements you feel should be included in the scheme?
    John Borland (IND) Cycling infrastructure will generally be a matter for the County Council. The construction of the by pass will allow cyclist to come off the A142/A10 and enter and leave Ely safely via the existing route but with much reduced traffic. It therefore represents an enhancement for cyclists.
    Lis Every (CON) The Southern bypass will undoubtedly assist the interests of cyclists.  It will take most of the traffic that is particularly dangerous to cyclists away from the station area which is used by so many cyclists daily.  It will also hopefully encourage others to take to their bikes for commuting. The Ely Cycling Campaign needs to make its voice heard every time the planning of a large infrastructure change is put in the public domain.  Its likely impact should be integrated into a full traffic review of Ely.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Where connectivity between towns, villages, leisure opportunities etc is facilitated, I would like to see all road improvements, required to include cycle-paths (not just cycle-lanes)
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) I am not sure what provisions have already been put in place for cyclists and pedestrians. But I feel that the safest option would be for a wide shared cyclist/pedestrian path installed on the current route, thereby avoiding the lorries on the by-pass itself. This should also be extended along the A142, currently the cycle provision is practically none-existent.  The by-pass gives us a chance to not just remove the traffic from the streets of Ely but look at transport in the area as a whole and make safer provisions for both cyclists and pedestrians.
  3. The Broad Street / Back Hill junction is currently an accident black spot, particularly for cyclists. Can you explain what measures you feel should be undertaken to improve the safety of this junction?
    John Borland (IND) The problems at this junction have been exacerbated by the foolish decision to locate two high volume shops in the wrong place. Any improvements would, once again, be a matter for the County Council (Councillor Rouse). Safety is always going to be a problem at this busy junction and any improvements will be limited. The biggest danger is probably caused by cyclists coming quickly down the hill and not being seen by cars coming out from Broad Strret. The cyclist might have right of way but that is not much value when you are dead. If i am on a bike approaching this junction I always slow dow and cross it with caution.
    Lis Every (CON) I would hope that the implementation of the bypass will take pressure off this junction and make it safer.  However, nothing other than education is going to stop cyclists approaching it at high speed as I see them doing on a daily basis, risking life and limb especially to themselves. I am also concerned at the lack of cycle helmets that are used.  At some time in the future a one way system may be considered as part of the whole traffic strategy.  The suggestion that a police presence could be provided from time to time to deter those cycling dangerously could be made as a priority to the Neighbourhood Panel (run by the City Council with ECDC).
    Jane Frances (LAB) See Q1 – using existing paths and incorporating some side-roads, I think we should be able to create through cycle routes towards the station, which enable cyclists to stay off these too-narrow roads.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) As a resident of Back Hill I see the problem on a daily basis, walking to and from the Station. I know that some years ago the Council redesigned the junction at Broad Street to make it safer for cyclists but this has proved not been the case. I know a few people who have been knocked off their cycles at this junction. What personally I would like to see is Back Hill, Broad Street and Forehill made into a way systems, thereby allowing the pavements to be widened for shared cyclist pedestrian use.
  4. There are plans for a large number of homes to be built on the northern edge of the city in the coming years. Do you think it is important that these developments are cycle friendly and have good quality cycle connections to the city centre?
    John Borland (IND) The only time the District Council has any influence and control of cycling infrastructure is at the planning stage. It is important that cycling is considered as part of the planning process and groups such as yours are given the chance to comment. The council must be robust in ensuring that sensible cycling plans are made enforceable conditions on planning approval notices for large developments.
    Lis Every (CON) All new, but particularly,  large developments should consider the needs of all road users and take the opportunity to build in safety.  This is very easy to do at the planning stage.  Collaboration at this early stage would again provide an opportunity for your campaign to have its say early on in the process.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Yes, not just important but vital. Separate cycle-paths are better than cycle-lanes at attracting new people to give cycling a go.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) I think that when new houses are built all aspects of infrastructure should be taken into account before the planning permission is given.
  5. The Campaign has recently published a strategy advocating a “Go Dutch” approach to cycling infrastructure ( What do you think of the strategy? Do you support the “Go Dutch” approach it describes?
    John Borland (IND) I cannot find any information on “Go Dutch”. Cycling is very popular in Holland and they have developed a system separating cars from bikes as much as possible to improve safety. This has taken years to evolve, but where the opportunity arises to create new separate routes it will certainly be woth exploring.
    Lis Every (CON) I am not really sure of the detail of  ”going dutch” but if it means copying Holland then your campaign needs to take a very long term approach as Holland has taken many decades to reach the point it is currently enjoying. That said cycling is on the increase and a natural ”weight of numbers” should help the evolution of this goal.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Regarding road use and cycling, England and Holland have long and different histories. A Dutch approach would not necessarily translate to Ely. But there are very good examples elsewhere in England e.g. Bristol, where, with the involvement of Sustrans they have developed a really good cycling infrastructure. This is the kind of thing we should learn from.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD)  I do agree with making cycling safer and easier in the Ely area.
  6. Some of the changes the Campaign is proposing involve reallocating road space and removing on-street parking. Do you support these measures where they are required to provide adequate cycle routes?
    John Borland (IND)  As before, this is primarily a County matter but there may be some opportunities to make modest improvements without exacerbating the parking problems in Ely.
    Lis Every (CON) The City Council is currently looking at the whole question of on street parking and the lack of enforcement.   Collaboration is already taking place to Improve this which will assist the situation in the short term.  To reallocate road space and remove on street parking is the responsibility of the County not the District Council but if parking can be improved whilst making safer the lot of the cyclist then I would support it.  Our Party representatives on the County Council are already working very closely with the County Council on this.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Within Ely, with its narrow streets and with the popularity of free parking close to the shops, the distribution of road space between pedestrians, cyclists, vehicular traffic and parking is always going to be a challenge. Improving roads for cyclists and pedestrians (which motorists usually find unhelpful) will necessarily be a gradual task, with each improvement hopefully increasing numbers of cyclists so that the next improvement can be more readily justified, and so on. It will be important to show local businesses that improving the town for cyclists is good for business. It might also be necessary to show that removing some street parking to improve things for cyclists reduces traffic but does not reduce trade. Or lost street parking spaces would need to be balanced with extra parking spaces somewhere else nearby. (I realise this may sound mealy-mouthed but I suspect that proposing sweeping pie-in-the-sky transformations will just harden the opposition.)
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) This is a difficult area because removing on street parking in some places will only cause problems in another. This is why we need a proper transport plan for the area.
  7. With the projected population growth for Ely in mind do you think cycling and walking should play an important role in the local traffic planning and how would you fund improvements to the cycling infrastructure?
    John Borland (IND) See Q4. The District Council probably has no funds to assist with these projects.
    Lis Every (CON) I support that cycling is an important factor in principle in local traffic planning but I cannot see where large scale funding will come from in the short term unless developers are asked to provide it as part of the CIL/Section 106 funding.  If this is identified as a priority, funding can be allocated accordingly.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Yes, and as cycling is good for health the improvements could be funded from the Public Health budget which has now been devolved to local authorities.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) Very much so, I know that in an area such as Ely, the use of a car is important due to the lack of public transport, especially to and from the villages. As the population grows we need to look at this and ensure that people aren’t reliant upon their cars for getting to and from work and shopping.
  8. Being able to park outside shops has been in the news recently. Do you feel it is important to keep parking near to the city centre shops (for example down the High Street) or would you prefer to see fewer cars in the city centre and encourage people to access it by bike or use public transport instead?
    John Borland (IND) A vibrant town centre requires customers however thaey get there, I have lived in Ely long enough to remember cars parked down both sides of High Street, full shops and people everywhere. I see no conflict between cars and cycles in Ely centre. Public transport is always going to be limited and in a rural area it is vital that any plan allows the use of all forms of transport.
    Lis Every (CON) I would prefer to see fewer cars in the city centre especially during the week and hopefully this would benefit cyclists.  This can be achieved through more progressive planning regarding pedestrianisation.  This could be serviced by consideration of the return of a park and ride system.  A pilot is being considered by the City Council to support Christmas shopping.
    Jane Frances (LAB) Please see answer to Q 6.
    Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
    Dian Warman (LD) As you know public transport in Ely is very poor, we need to address this and ensure that people have a choice and a reasonably priced one before we can think of the possible removal of parking spaces along the High Street.

General comments also submitted in response.

John Borland (IND) Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the various matters raised by your group. At the start I should say that the reason I am standing as an Indepent candidate is because I believe strongly that party politics has no place in local government. The District Council should concentrate its efforts on matters that it is directly responsible for and not get sidetracked on county and national issues.This would save money and reduce your council tax. Local councillors should be able to speak freely about local issues.
Lis Every (CON) It has been identified by most candidates that improvements are necessary for the safety of the increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians.  New developments must consider the provision of cycle paths at the earliest planning stages.  Free parking close to the main City Centre is already contributing to the higher level of footfall of local residents and visitors which will benefit our area economically and attract a wider variety of specialist and popular shops.  The further development of pedestrianisation could encourage larger numbers.  Further research to provide evidence will be required to persuade local businesses that this will not deter shoppers but could in fact improve business in the town.  In the short term, more control of on street parking will benefit cyclists as medium term plans are considered to reduce this.  More car parking spaces further out of town would need to be considered.  I am encouraged that all parties identify the need to improve health, well-beingand the environment,  and articulate that cycling contributes to this.  It is also important that education permeates our school systems to ensure that cyclists from a very young age are properly trained in road safety and understand the need to respect all other road users.
Jane Frances (LAB) As already highlighted in our two by-election Newsletters, the local Labour Party is keen to see improvements for cyclists and pedestrians including safer local roads and safe routes to school.Obviously, new residential developments should be cycle-friendly and cycle paths alongside rather than on main roads are especially for tempting new people to take up cycling. This should threfore be a planning requirement for all new developments, (including the southern by-pass, if it goes ahead).Within Ely, with its narrow streets and with the popularity of free parking close to the shops, the distribution of road space between pedestrians, cyclists, vehicular traffic and parking is always going to be a challenge. Improving roads for cyclists and pedestrians (which motorists may find unhelpful) will necessarily be a gradual task, with each improvement hopefully increasing numbers of cyclists so that the next improvement can be more readily justified, and so on. It will be important to show local businesses that improving the town for cyclists is good for business. It might also be necessary to show that removing some street parking to imrove things for cyclists reduces traffic but does not reduce trade. Or lost street parking spaces would need to be balanced with extra parking spaces somewhere else nearby.

With safety a priority, the gradual development which I envisage would need to give immediate attention to accident blackspots where different options may need to be trialled to establish what works best for everyone. For example I would press for a new cycle route to be trialled across town towards the rail station, using existing off-road paths, the riverside footpath and nearby sideroads, specifically to enable cyclists heading for the station to avoid the Back Hill-Broad Street juntion.)

However, connecting new cyclepaths into existing roads with added cycle-lanes, addressing junctions etc is a key issue requiring careful design. Cycle-safe road and junction design is not my expertise, but, I am familiar with cyclelanes and cyclepaths in Cambridge. and with the work of Sustrans around the country. Regarding road use and cycling, England and Holland have long and different histories so a Dutch approach would not necessarily translate to Ely. But there are  very good examples elsewhere in England e.g. Bristol, where, with the involvement of Sustrans they have developed a really good cycling infrastructure. This is the kind of thing we should learn from.

Action is required. East Cambs District Council has missed many opportunities to facilitate and promote more and safer cycling, and this needs to change. As cycling is better for the environment and for everyone’s health and wellbeing, and with Public Health powers and budgets now devolved to local authorities, the case for some key improvements is strong and fundable.

Jeremy Tyrrell (UKIP)
Dian Warman (LD) I think we need a balanced approach transportation in the area. I know a lot of pedestrian, especially elderly ones who are very concerned of the level of cycling on the pavement. However, I know that this is mainly due to the fact that the current provisions are not adequate nor safe. However, I do not think that a well thought out transport strategy for the area should be biaised in one area, it should take all means of transport into consideration.I feel very strongly that everyone should treat each other with respect, whether they are a cyclist, pedestrian or driver.

One thought on “Questions for the Ely East by-election candidates

  1. Lis Every comments on Back Hill/Broad Street are so out of touch! Why shouldn’t cyclists be allowed to travel at speed down Back Hill when they have right of way? Why put the emphasis on the cyclist rather than the motorist? Ridiculous.

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