Norman Baker replaced as Cycling Minister

Norman Baker has been promoted out of the Department for Transport

Norman Baker replaced as Cycling Minister

Norman Baker MP has been moved to the Home Office, where he'll take a more senior role. His Liberal Democrat replacement, Susan Kramer, was the MP for Richmond Park until the 2010 election and now sits in the House of Lords. The cycling part of his role, however, may go to Robert Goodwill MP.

It is not yet known whether Kramer will take over Baker's exact brief, or whether roles will be redistributed amongst the other Department for Transport Ministers. 

Robert Goodwill MP, from Scarborough and Whitby, is the new Conservative junior minister in the transport department, and may well take over the cycling brief.

CTC met with him before the 2010 election when he was a junior shadow transport minister. He is a keen cyclist and has been a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. We look forward to working with him in future.

As an MP with a large, relatively rural constituency, he has voiced strong views on the major road network. Given the Prime Minister's recent commitment that the Highways Agency will "cycle-proof" all its future projects (i.e. ensure they incorporate good cycle provision), CTC will be urging him to consider how to secure genuine improvements in practice. 

Assuming he is given the cycling brief, it is likely that his first task will be overseeing the publication of the Cycling Delivery Plan, as promised in the Government's response to the Get Britain Cycling report published at the end of August.

CTC looks forward to working with the new Ministers in the Department to build up the momentum started by Norman Baker and the new Cycling Delivery Plan shows a true commitment to cycling.

Roger Geffen
Campaigns Director, CTC

Susan Kramer is an economist by training and very interested in rail infrastructure. It is therefore fairly likely that she will be deployed to start the process of moving the High Speed 2 Hybrid Bill through Parliament, rather than dealing with cycling issues.

The Secretary of State - the Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin - remains the same.


Norman Baker's record in transport

Norman Baker often claimed to be the 'longest serving transport minister' in decades.  His time in the post was marked not only by hefty Treasury-led cuts to departmental budgets, but also hostility from other influential departments and ministers.

The low-point of his term was undoubtedly the demise of Cycling England - consigned to the 'bonfire of the quangos' in the first year of the coalition Government.  Whilst that decision was taken 'above his pay-grade', he still has to bear collective ministerial responsibility for the damage it caused.

He nonetheless managed to secure a commitment to fund Bikeability cycle training for the remainder of the current Parliament. He also managed to push through useful reforms of signing and marking regulations. Though unspectacular, these changes were things that CTC and Sustrans had long been calling for. They have given councils the means to make real improvements to cycle access and priority throughout the UK.

It was only after a reshuffle brought him a new team of ministerial colleagues at the Department for Transport (DfT) that he was able to start rebuilding ministerial support for cycling funding.

As the junior minister from the junior party in the coalition Government, his political hand remained weak, particularly in his dealings with other Government departments such as education and planning, and with the Treasury.

He nonetheless helped shape the Local Sustainable Transport Fund in a way that ensured that reasonable sums of DfT cash were going to public transport, walking and cycling, rather than road capacity schemes. 

Cycling then gained significant new political momentum thanks to the Times's Cities fit for cycling campaign, and the subsequent parliamentary debate on cycling.  Baker used this to secure a reasonable one-off funding settlement, amounting to what was slightly more than central Government had ever previously earmarked for cycling.

It was stlll far short of what was really needed, as CTC and others emphasised throughout the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's 'Get Britain Cycling' inquiry. Pushed by CTC and other cycle lobby groups, he secured the Prime Minister's backing for the aim of launching a "Cycling Revolution", together with some further funding for 8 cities and 4 National Parks to begin that process. CTC and other groups continued to argue that, once again, a one-off cash allocation was still only a fraction of what is needed for the promised 'Cycling Revolution' to become a reality. Nonetheless, getting David Cameron to back this aim was a genuinely significant achievement.

Throughout his term, he displayed real understanding and commitment to the cause of cycling, and of sustainable transport more generally. Publicly though, he was perhaps overly concerned to 'big up' his track record. Cycling advocates would at times have appreciated rather greater candour about just how far we are from becoming a truly cycle-friendly nation. Nonetheless, he deserves real credit for the fact that cycling in England is now receiving more earmarked Government funding than ever before.  That is no mean achievement, given the political circumstances.

He has now been promoted to a more senior role at the Home Office. CTC wishes him well in his new post.

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