Izzy Knowles

1. Izzy you’ve been a regular attendee at demonstrations we’ve put on across the city to call for improvements to our roads to make them safer. What would better streets for our city look like to you?

I would like to see a city where the streets are dominated by people, not private motor vehicles,  where active travel and efficient, affordable and  safe public transport is the first choice of travel and our streets are safe for our children to walk and cycle to school or play.

2. New 20 mph zones in Wales, supported by the Lib Dems, have resulted in a 1/3 reduction in road casualties on previous 30mph roads. If elected, will you push for similar measures in Birmingham? What other interventions will you advocate to improve our city’s woeful record on road safety?

Yes, because I am fed up with seeing reports of yet another casualty or death due to excessive speed or wilfully aggressive driving. Assessments in Wales shows that reducing speeds to 20mph could result in an average increase of one minute per journey, balanced against saving up to 9 lives and preventing up to 98 serious injuries each year.  I would lobby government to ensure revenue from  speeding fines was returned to regions or local authorities for investment in road safety initiatives. I would also encourage the council to use their powers to enforce moving traffic offences such as red light jumping.

3. The Lib Dem manifesto promises a new national active travel strategy – what benefits could this bring to Birmingham?

The Lib Dem active travel strategy would devolve more of the national roads budget to local councils in order to invest in creating a network of safe cycle routes to connect the city,  maintaining roads &  pavements. We believe local communities and councils are best placed to make decisions on funding streams rather than being dictated to by a national government in Westminster.

4. What will you do, if elected, to make bus travel more viable for Brummies?

Bus services are the responsibility of the WMCA and the elected Mayor. The Birmingham Lib Dem group led a successful motion to council last year calling for bus franchising. If this was implemented it would allow local government to plan routes and timetables based on need rather than profit. In turn this would make bus travel more viable and popular. Road transport contributes the greatest proportion of UK emissions (24%). Improving the bus and local rail network would help the UK reduce CO2 emissions and cut air pollution. To encourage bus use to become the norm we would  make public transport more affordable for young people by: Extending half-fares on buses, trams and trains to 18 year-olds. Working with operators to introduce a “Young Person’s Bus Card”, similar to the Young Person’s Railcard, giving 19- to 25-year-olds a third off bus and tram fares.

5. Pavement parking is a massive problem in this city, damaging infrastructure and endangering the most vulnerable road users. What will you do to ensure it is addressed in this parliament, and what is your preferred solution? 

I would continue to call for the results of the 2020 consultation on pavement parking to be released. My preference is for the default to be a complete ban with designated parking areas where appropriate. I would also like to see more residential parking schemes introduced across the city as this 

would limit the number of parking spaces per household and encourage other means of travel.

6. Moving away from petrol and diesel engines will reduce revenue from fuel and emissions duty, making driving cheaper. It is estimated this will cost the treasury £35 billion per year and lead to a significant  increase in congestion on our roads. What measures will you push for in the next parliament to stop this from happening?

Combined with VED, the Treasury generates around £35 billion per year from vehicle and fuel taxation. Around 20 per cent of this is spent on road maintenance budgets, with the rest used for general government expenditure. The current price structure taxes polluting vehicles more heavily than EV’s to encourage the switch to EV’s.  Road wear increases with axle weight so we could look at taxing vehicle use by weight. I would not be against a system of road pricing moving away from the current motoring taxation system, and introducing charges to use roads that vary depending on how congested they are. Road pricing would help unblock roads to the overall benefit of the economy and the environment.

7. Having worked in frontline policing for many years, what do you see as the solution to the problems caused by a minority of drivers who currently terrorise communities across the city with their reckless behaviour behind the wheel?

Bring back proper neighbourhood policing!  West Midlands Police are currently allocating neighbourhood officers to answer 999 and 101 calls in an effort to ‘reduce ‘demand. By that they mean they want to reduce the number of calls for service. But in reality demand and crime will only come down if it is tackled at source. That means ring fencing neighbourhood teams to get the trust of their communities so they can investigate and target people who use cars, motor bikes or quads recklessly and anti socially in our neighbourhoods.  That could be combined with education and information packs about the dangers of speeding and the increasing use of mobile phones and devices whilst driving. Along with others, including Better Streets for Birmingham, last year, I successfully campaigned for the Police Road Harm Reduction team to be given extra resources to tackle speeding and close pass of cyclists. The third party reporting system was also relaunched and is now functioning well processing dozens of reports of dangerous or inconsiderate driving or parking made by members of the public daily. I’d like to see the team do more work in training neighbourhood officers in dealing with traffic issues.