Transport in Cornwall is characterised by the near total-absence of any public provision in rural areas and severe traffic congestion in others. Cornwall does not really have a transport “system” at all – it has a disorganised free-for-all which works only for the few, and not the many.
Labour’s approach is to develop a genuinely integrated public transport system, encouraging County Hall officials to go further, and faster, with their “Devolution Deal” One Public Transport project.
Their worthy ambition has been, and continues to be, hampered by the political cowardice of Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Independent councillors. The consequences are delays, accidents and severe environmental damage, often with catastrophic health outcomes.
Labour recognises that things will only continue to get worse unless more people can be persuaded to travel less by private car, and to travel more by public transport. This is absolutely fundamental , and is underpinned by our ambition to make Cornwall carbon-neutral by 2030.
Cornwall relies heavily on private cars for transportation. Use of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles needs to be sharply reduced. This can be achieved by a combination of incentives and penalties. Car parks should be shifted to vehicle recognition systems so that vehicles can be charged in relation to their emissions. Free parking and use of bus lanes should be available to EVs.
Bus services should be municipalised and free. At present Labour nationally is promising free bus travel for under 25s. It is already free for pensioners. EV buses are cheaper over their operating life than diesel and there should be no further purchases of fleet diesel vehicles by the council.
Labour’s commitment to the Green New Deal should include the development of new economic indicators and measuring tools, reflecting the real cost of doing nothing, thereby allowing genuine comparisons and the fullest possible debate.
A Labour government would renationalise the railways, making much easier some of the ambitions outlined below.
Labour supports and will encourage the One Public Transport single ticket project in Cornwall.
The key points of Labour’s distinctive transport policy are:
- A far-reaching and detailed public consultation exercise to identify need and develop a new network of bus routes to ensure that Cornwall is genuinely connected, particularly with daily mini-buses linking villages to nearby towns;
- The direct provision of a fleet of electrically-powered buses, owned and operated by Cornwall Council;
- In order to encourage people out of their private cars, the use of buses will be free. All school transport will be free. Labour will immediately invite school managers, pupils, and local town and parish councils to offer suggestions as to how damaging and dangerous “school run” traffic congestion can be eased in each locality.
- Alongside the introduction of free buses, Labour will pilot local traffic “demand management” schemes such as congestion charging, generating additional revenues, and accessing little-used central government programmes such as Transport Innovation Funds (Challenge Funds.)
- The dramatic improvement of bus shelters, with night-time lighting, seats, digital display information etc.
- All Cornwall Council car parks should be fitted with electric-vehicle charging points;
- The use of Cornwall Council car parks could be free for local council tax payers, stimulating High Street footfall, with car park management administered by smart technology similar to Tamar Bridge tags. The loss of £9.7 million car park revenue (2018) would be more than offset by the introduction of a £1/night tourism tax, capable of raising at least £25 million a year (The Lyons Inquiry into local government funding, 2007, and Tom Flanagan, former Cornwall Council corporate director for the economy, 2012.)
- Cornwall Council should press for all train operating companies to carry bicycles for free as part of their franchises;
- The council should explore the introduction and operation of its own regular commuter shuttle service, several times a day, between Penzance and Plymouth. This would reduce peak-time congestion on the existing private operating companies and help reduce traffic on the roads.
- The council should support the campaign to switch freight from road to rail and make this a key part of its One Public Transport project.
- Labour supports the public ownership of Newquay Airport, and would bring this asset back in-house, subject to greater democratic oversight and scrutiny.
- Cornwall Council should seek to attract more airlines, particularly for long-haul flights, making better use of the unusually long runway.
- The annual operation of the airport should nevertheless be subject to a detailed environmental audit, which would include a cost-benefit analysis of travel to alternative airports at Exeter, Bristol etc.
- Labour recognises that one of the major obstacles to the further development of Newquay Airport is access, with very poor road and public transport links. Labour would therefore immediately commission a major study to research ways of solving this problem. Ideas include the construction of a new tram or light railway service, possibly linked to the One Public Transport Multi Modal Hub at St Erth.
- Labour believes that cycling can be encouraged as a serious form of transport, but is opposed to “shared space” schemes, such as the Bodmin project, which we believe was not only a huge waste of public money but has also made the town more dangerous, particularly for people with disabilities. New housing developments, such as those at Holmbush, should, however, demonstrate dedicated cycle paths which do not require competition with pedestrians.
- Labour supports the dualling of the A30, and the need for urgent safety reviews into the design of the A38 in South East Cornwall.
- Research shows that the construction of new roads contributes to traffic growth. Labour is therefore generally opposed to by-passes, believing there are usually better alternatives, such as diversionary routes using existing roads. The construction of a by-pass inevitably involves a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere, not only during construction but thereafter. Each case must be examined on its merits, but a Labour council would not support a by-pass at Camelford.
- Labour is second to none in its enthusiasm for space exploration, genuine scientific research and inquiry, and the development of exciting new technologies which will benefit the many, rather than the few. But we remain to be convinced that there is a sound business case for developing a spaceport in Cornwall, particularly when profit-hungry entrepreneurs seek massive public subsidies.
- Labour would immediately halt the current Spaceport project, pending the outcome of (i) a full environmental audit, to determine how a spaceport is compatible with the over-riding imperative to be carbon-neutral by 2030; and (ii) an investigation into how the launch of a very large number of low-orbit commercial satellites will improve the lives of people in Cornwall.
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