Yesterday some councillors and officers from the West of England Partnership came to Westminster to talk about rail issues with the Minister, Tom Harris. The night before, the Council voted on two different amendments the cycle path issue. I also had an impromptu meeting in Parliament yesterday with Paul Smith, the Labour candidate for Bristol West, and Roger Berry, MP for Kingswood, and spoke to other Bristol Labour MPs in the division lobby. And I collared Rosie Winterton, the Minister of State who has primary responsibility for cycling issues and local transport within the DfT, and told her what was going on; I'm now going to follow this up in writing.
Let me be quite clear about my position on this: I told people from the West of England Partnership quite unequivocally that I would not be prepared to support any option which affected the current use and enjoyment of the cycle path in any way. That means not just if it physically impinges on the path, but also if it removes surrounding greenery, or destroys the tranquil atmosphere. I am pleased that they are now considering other options, but concerned that using the cycle path has not, it appears, been totally ruled out. I have also questioned whether this route - i.e. linking the science park with the city - should be the Partnership's first priority, when we have appalling congestion on, for example, the M32, the A4 and Fishponds Road. I'm told it's because 6000 new jobs are being created at the science park, and people will need to get to work - but will those people be coming from the city centre/ east Bristol? I'm told the current route between Kingswood and the Science Park is very heavily-used, and congestion will obviously get worse, but why does that mean a BRT link through Easton and Eastville is needed? I have to finish now, as I'm due for a spot of PPS-ing in the Chamber, but I want to make it clear that Paul and I will do our utmost to ensure that the cycle path option is not just shelved, but binned.