A local representative attempts to revitalise campaigning in the South East. Here's how

Local group cycles in the Chilterns

A local representative attempts to revitalise campaigning in the South East. Here's how

A lack of campaigning activity in Buckinghamshire motivated Peter England, the South East Regional Representative, to bring all the local representatives together and work out a plan of action.

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 of 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 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, while 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. This contrasted with an earlier period when the county seemed keen to talk to campaigners about priorities.

The problem had been accentuated by the recent decision to abolish the Cycling and Walking team.

Peter England, Cycling UK local campaigner

It was agreed that waiting for an approach from the county would no longer provide a way forward if campaigners wanted to have any influence on the county's policies. It was also concluded that acting together rather than just reacting to issues on individual 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, Cycling UK campaigners 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 six 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 the local representatives in Buckinghamshire or find your local campaigner click here. You can also contact the Cycling UK Volunteer Support Officer for more information or to organise a meeting.

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