A local representative attempts to revitalize campaigning in the South East, find out how...
The work Cycling UK Volunteer Support Officer Laura Brooks does to support the local campaigning network is shaped by the Cycling UK Advisory Group. This group is made up of Cycling UK local campaigners, Cycling UK councilors and Cycling UK staff.
A key role of this group is to aid communication between national office and the individual campaigners, including better understanding the activities they are involved in; the difficulties they face at local level; and how best they can be supported.
With these factors in mind Laura Brooks, Cycling UK Volunteer Support Officer was asked to attend a gathering to meet the five Buckinghamshire local campaigners, following earlier meetings with groups of campaigners elsewhere in the country.
Buckinghamshire campaigners not only have a long term commitment to campaigning but have been very active in their local groups for even longer and already have links with their local member groups. This is an advantage as they have a pool of members to draw on to support any local campaigns. It is felt that there will be those Cycling UK members who, whilst unwilling to become campaigners themselves, would nevertheless be happy to play a part in lending support to the activities of a campaign group.
A period of relative inactivity for four of the reps stemmed largely from lack of approaches from the County, although Aylesbury is a Cycling Demonstration town with an active campaign group so had fared slightly better in this respect.
The problem had been accentuated by the recent decision to abolish the Cycling and Walking team.
Cycling UK local campaigner
This contrasted with an earlier period when the county seemed keen to talk to campaigners about priorities.
It was agreed that waiting for an approach from the County would no longer provide us with a way forward if we wanted to have any influence on their policies. We also concluded that acting together rather than just reacting to issues on our own patches had the potential to be more effective. Drawing in others from the local groups was raised as a matter to actively consider.
All were enthusiastic about the 20s Plenty for Us movement and were keen to engage with the successful Chilterns Gateway Bid from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), for which Cycling UK is a delivery body. Collectively we have an unrivalled knowledge of the area covered by the bid, which is aimed not only at promoting tourism in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but also at facilitating commuting and utility cycling. There is a specific focus on rail, in particular routes from key stations.
The local campaigns group, campaigners, the national office and the local Cycling UK staff working together will help to form stronger bonds between Cycling UK at a local and a national level.
The Representatives agreed to keep in touch and to meet Laura again in 6 months time. This has potentially rejuvenated the group to kick start some local campaigning.
Many thanks to:
Peter England, Cycling UK local campaigner Buckinghamshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Cycling UK Advisory Group member
Peter Robinson, Cycling UK local Campaigner for Aylesbury
Ted Beeson, Cycling UK local Campaigner for Chilterns and High Wycombe
Audrey Hughes, Cycling UK local Campaigner for Chilterns
Mac Crombie, Cycling UK local Campaigner for South Buckinghamshire and Chilterns
To find to contact the local representatives in Buckinghamshire or find your local campaigner
You can also contact the Cycling UK Volunteer Support Officer for more information or to organise a meeting.