Document 20220108 0001Never let it be said that our outgoing chair, Nigel Williams, didn't make his presence felt in the past. This 30 year old cutting reveals how, as Transport spokesperson for North Staffs Friends of the Earth, he believed that traffic congestion and road safety could be improved in the run up to the 21st century. It seems that not much has changed since then but Nigel was speaking with some experience of the infrastructures he was calling for, having lived for several years in Sheffield when the bus service was second to none and a cross-county fare was 10p for an adult (and 2p for a child). The result was low levels of traffic congestion, speedier journeys into town and most families giving up second cars - great for decarbonisation, although that wasn't the issue then. That of course was dependent on having an efficient subsidised bus service (South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive) run by councils that not only had the political will to improve public transport but also the finance to afford it.

Sadly, that is not the case today and certainly not in Staffordshire, where buses are commissioned by the county council and cross-border services between counties are too few to be a realistic option for most potential passengers. In practice, bus services around the county can be a viable option for those with spare time, access to a journey planner app and ideally holding a bus pass. However, they could be so much better and, as in Sheffield in the 1980s, be the first choice for busy people not needing to transport bulky goods.  But that would require commitment from national government to provide support and incentives for counties to commission such services. Would that they followed through on their vague promises! They may have produced a policy now that looks like the one called for by Nigel in 1992 but there is little evidence that they are acting on it. After all, how can an administration dependent on funding from the fossil fuel industry ever take such promises seriously?

They do however claim to promote active travel and a key part of this, apart from the lazy option of just exhorting people to walk and cycle more, would be making roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. One successful approach to this, and an improvement on chicanes and sleeping policemen, has been the introduction of 20's Plenty zones around schools throughout the country by grass roots organisations. But there is a strong argument for extending these to most residential roads, as is already happening in the UK's larger cities and will be implemented shortly throughout Wales.

Some might argue that such speed limits would make traffic flows unrealistically slow but in reality congestion already does that, although not consistently enough to be safe.  For example, data from the London Assembly show that between 2008 and 2018 average traffic speeds in central London decreased from 8.7 mph to 7.1 mph; in inner London from 12.5 mph to 11.6 mph and in outer London from 20.3 mph to 19.3 mph.

Members of MCA's Transport group are now meeting with 20's Plenty North Staffordshire in the hope of getting more change in the Moorlands but we need more input, as our group is desperately small.  If you would like to join us or help out in any way, do please get in touch via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

IMG 20210606 140504This year’s holiday season in the Peak District National Park may be in sight but a solution to one of its biggest problems seems further away than ever. As more and more people visit the Park, the number of car journeys is climbing relentlessly, with consequent pressure on roads, the availability of parking spaces in villages and last, but certainly not least, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

MCA knows from conversations with the National Park at Board level that trying to encourage the availability and use of public transport and reverse the relentless tide of cars is a priority. We also know that they have struggled to get meaningful engagement on the subject with elected representatives on the Staffordshire side of the Park borders.

And on public transport it really is a tale of two counties. This July, the Hope Valley Explorer started its summer season, following earlier successful pilots. The Stagecoach-operated bus offers a hop-on hop-off service in the Hope Valley. Visitors are encouraged to leave the car behind, take the train from Sheffield or Manchester and join the Hope Valley Explorer at Hope.

Here’s a pared-down list of the attendees: Robert Largan, MP for High Peak, Andrew McCloy, Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority; John Young, Commercial Director of Stagecoach; Sir Richard FitzHerbert, Chair of Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire and many local councillors. Now close your eyes for just one moment: could you imagine a similar line-up for such a sensible and joined-up green travel initiative this side of the county line? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s not that the issue of car use isn’t a pressing one in the Staffordshire villages of the National Park. “Villages in the south Peak are really suffering. It is a tremendous problem,” said Gill Heath, local councillor and the County’s representative on the Peak District National Authority. She was reacting to the August news that the Park was intending to raise charges in its car parks to approach national levels as well as increase the scope of charging and enforcement. Cllr. Heath said the charges would “displace traffic more and more in the villages”.

She’s almost certainly right. But surely at least part of the solution must be to reduce the scale of the problem in the first place – i.e., the fact that for almost all visits into the Staffordshire part of the Park, a car is the only option for many?

EV charge point at Morrisons smIn our last article on green transport possibilities in the Moorlands, we focused on community buses, electric bikes, active transport and car sharing schemes. However, there is another serious possibility - increased use of electric cars, which has had little traction in the this area so far. More than likely that is due to motorists’ “range anxiety”, a legitimate concern, especially to those of us who live in rural areas.

The good news is that moves are afoot to dramatically increase the number of EV charging points in the UK, with Ofgem planning to build infrastructure for 3,550 new ultra-rapid charging points on motorways and in towns, as well as investing in upgrading Britain’s electricity grids. So far so good, but how many EV charging points do we need in the Moorlands? According to Friends of the Earth, there are currently 8 in the Staffordshire Moorlands but there should be 472 to meet the 2030 target set by the Climate Change Committee, the Government’s advisory body. The CCC has a clear vision of how transportation can be decarbonised but their recommendations are not always heeded by Government. So what we can WE do?

There are several approaches we can take, if we want to embrace electric cars now rather than wait until they are forced on us by Government policy and then struggle with the sparse network of EV charging points that may well be the lot of more rural areas.

• Find out more about EV charging and where the charging points are around the country
• Contact our local councillors to persuade the council to have more installed in public places
• Encourage local businesses to have at least one installed on their car parks
• Investigate the possibility of having community-funded chargepoints.

The good news is that there are Government grants available, so we should make our councillors and local businesses aware of them.

If you would like to get together with other MCA members to take a concerted action on this, please do get in touch by e-mailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We can’t leave this topic without congratulating and thanking Cllr Bill Cawley, who has already persuaded Morrisons to install a chargepoint in their carpark, as pictured above. We understand that at least one other councillor is also working on getting a charger installed. May there be many more!

LACMTA Bike Rack with mounted bikeThere are lots of metaphors for lack of progress in the world of travel, such as ‘stuck in the mud’ and ‘up shit creek without a paddle’. No doubt ‘attached to the bank of the Suez Canal’ will become another. This will resonate with MCA members concerned to reduce our travel carbon footprint in the Moorlands – lots of interest, lots of ideas but apparently no coherent plan and definite uncertainty about the roles of different levels of government. At SMDC level even the promising topic of electric vehicles has been moved from their Travel and Transport working group to that of Energy, although that’s no reason that we in MCA’s Transport group can’t continue to push for its promotion.

The problems in the Moorlands are clear: outside the three main towns, there are the issues of isolated houses and settlements limiting the role of bus transport; steep hills restricting the possibilities of cycling as a routine mode of transport, instead of just being a sport, and the location of the district in a northern corner of the county, which militates against effective inter-town travel by bus across county boundaries. Just four buses a day between places like Leek and Macclesfield or Buxton do not make for spontaneous trips, especially when return journeys have to be considered.

However, there are gaps in between some of these clouds and we hope they will continue to widen:

A 20s plenty image from their press pack20 is Plenty has been operating in North Staffordshire since 2012 and now they are coming to the Moorlands. This campaign has gained momentum because residents want the freedom to choose how they travel and 20mph on our streets brings that choice. People, particularly the elderly, fear the intimidation from high speeds on residential streets and in town and village centres. Here are some good reasons for adopting a 20mph speed limit for such streets in our Moorlands towns:

  • 20mph is normal. In the UK, 21 million people (or 1 in 3 of the population) live in places where their council has decided that a blanket 30mph doesn’t suit most streets. Adopting a default speed of 20mph with appropriate exceptions makes their streets better places to live, work, shop and learn.
  • 20mph is popular. Seven out of 10 people consistently say they support 20mph speed limits in residential streets. Once installed, 20mph schemes become even more popular and are never removed.

Cycle ride in Leek 2020Although The MCA Travel and Transport group has not had any formal meetings, some MCA members have been active behind the scenes. In particular attending the meetings of the SMDC Travel and Transport Subcommittee, which has been set up to feed ideas to the main SMDC Climate Emergency Committee (CEC).

The SMDC Travel and Transport sub-Committee is chaired by Councillor Keith Flunder and has been attended by mainly Conservative councillors, along with Cllr Garry Bentley (Cheadle West, Independent) Cllr Ian Waite (Horton Parish, Green) and usually with 2 or 3 members of MCA. Interestingly, according to my notes, no Labour or Lib Dem Councillors have attended any of the meetings! This has meant that the committee is dominated by Conservative councillors which can make it difficult to get our views across.

The chair, Cllr Keith Flunder, has been pushing an ongoing SMDC mapping exercise, which is mainly aimed at linking leisure routes from town to country. All well and good but with very little impact on the climate emergency. Cllr Garry Bentley has been working on improving an old piece of railway track in Cheadle to allow better walking and cycling access to the local school and reduce traffic in Cheadle High Street.