Consultations on local cycle schemes, proposed new infrastrucutre, junction redesigns, or other plans that may affect cyclists are an opportunity for you to feed in your views and influence decision making. Relevant consultations for LCC Local Groups and Members may be run by your local council or TfL. You may wish to respond as an individual or a local LCC group.
Our Campaigns and Policy Experts Tom Bogdanowicz and Charlie Lloyd pass on their top tips for responding effectively to consultations
- Build relationships - Pre-emptive communication may prevent delays to programmes and resolve differences of opinion.
- Be proactive - Sign up for all likely sources of traffic scheme and policy consultations as well as planning applications: planning portals, local papers, consultation websites etc. Conduct searches using Twitter and Google by typing in consultation/planning applications and your local area.
- Prioritise - Decide which consultations / planning applications have the greatest importance and ensure those are addressed.
- Be positive as well as critical - Councillors and officers respond to praise just as much as anyone else so try to ensure you don’t miss opportunities of highlighting best practice.
- Prepare and publicise - Research the subject regularly before the consultation deadline. Check blogs, tweets, news websites for information. Ask LCC colleagues about previous applications/consultations. Don’t forget to consider inclusivity of provision.
- Support - You can draw on LCC’s expert groups – the Infrastructure Review Group (IRG) and the Cycle Planning and Engineering Group (meets bi-monthly Tuesdays) both have Yahoo based discussion groups.
- Write - Designate a person who writes confidently and clearly to write the draft response. Preferably this should be someone who understands the planning rules and regulations. Review, edit and proof the draft and approve before submitting your comments.
- Submit - Don’t miss the deadline and make sure you submit to the right email address. Copy relevant individuals where required. Copy partner organisations who may also be submitting responses. Request a read receipt from the planning authority.
- Publicise your final response e.g. on your Local Group website – it will be useful for others.
- Follow up - Local group responses require hard work, often drawing on local expertise that no one else has access to. You need to ensure, therefore, that your comments are being properly considered and acted upon. Check they have been received. Ask if there will be a direct written response or can the matter be raised at a relevant committee. Follow up on outcomes and monitoring.
CASE STUDIES FROM OUR LOCAL GROUPS
Camden Cycling Campaign
Jean Dollimore and George Coulouris of Camden Cycling Campaign pioneered web-based tools for cycle campaigning more than a decade ago. Their use of online responses makes consultations easy to find. Camden Cycling Campaign also has an online discussion group which is used to direct people to their website and to a campaigning platform called Cyclescape, developed by members of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. While Cyclescape has useful features for sharing documents and photos it permits anonymous comments if discussions are public which can be which can be a problem.
Oliver Schick from Hackney Cyclists focuses on developing a relationship with councillors and council officers. He advises local groups to never ‘lose their rag’ and not be discouraged by setbacks. Good relations with councils, developed over a period of time, can mean that traffic scheme proposals are sounded out with cycling groups and those that come up for consultation are better in the first place. Hackney Cyclists is selective in responding to the many planning applications and chooses those where they could have an influence.
Ealing Cycling Campaign
Peter Mynors of Ealing Cycling Campaign is a professional consultant and he has used visual presentations to convey a messages to councillors/officers and secure sensible changes. Another response, to council proposals for a mini-Holland strategy, used graphics effectively and again ensured that the changes were accepted.