As part of SERA's fringe programme at Labour Party Conference 2018, we held an event supported by the Campaign for Better Transport & Tideway on "Moving with the times: Why Labour must green its transport and infrastructure". There was a fantastic line-up including Lord Andrew Adonis (former Transport Secretary), Daniel Zeichner MP (former Shadow Transport Minister) and Rachael Maskell MP (Labour's Shadow Transport Minister).
Watch the full event here with Rachael Maskell MP, Daniel Zeichner MP, Lord Andrew Adonis, Cllr Liam Robinson, Stephen Joseph, Venn Chesterton and Lucy Webster
This is an edited version of Rachael Maskell MP's opening speech reflecting Labour's commitment to cleaner, greener transport:
Securing a serious shift in the forms of transport people use is at the heart of Labour’s transport policy. Whether to meet our climate change commitments or clean up our air quality, address congestion or enhance our environment, we all need to seriously review the choices that we make as to how we travel.
The investment Labour will make in active travel, walking and cycling, highlights just how serious we are taking this. Not only is walking and cycling better for our health and wellbeing, but it benefits communities and the economy too. When looking at countries, like the Netherlands and Denmark, who have grasp the opportunities that active travel delivers, we are determined to invest in our communities so we can gain the same benefits.
Accompanying active travel, Labour recognises the importance of reliable and sustainable public transport, run in the interest of serving the community rather than just making a profit for shareholders. That is why we have been so committed to running rail under one public body, but ensuring that decision making is devolved close to those who use the service. Joining up rail to buses, will make travelling a smooth process across different modes of transport.
To achieve our ambition we have to plan our transport system, so that new investments in housing, services and industry is supported with good transport infrastructure. In using data available, we can also map the demand the public currently have and can map provision onto people’s travel routes.
There is no reason why the Government can’t do this today, but with its determination of putting more dirty diesel trains on the rail and supporting airport expansion without evidence that pollution will be addressed, is totally irresponsible. It was bitterly disappointing that the transport announcements at the Tory Party Conference focused on building more and more roads and keeping fuel prices down, showing a staggering ignorance to the cost of climate change. Recent announcements by the Transport Secretary to halt the rail electrification programme again put the environment last. This is why we in Labour are eager to start righting the wrongs of this Government and to use transport as the catalyst for cleaning our environment.
We want travel to be a positive experience, one that is affordable, smooth and doesn’t add to the stress of the day. The Government have prescribed the wrong medicine to the problem so it is time for them to move over, and let a Labour Government invest in our future.