Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Luke’s Transport Manifesto
Luke believes improving transport links to and from Plymouth and the far south west is key to increasing economic growth and investment in the region.
The far south-west is a beautiful part of the world, full of innovative businesses, a superb tourism economy and the potential to deliver much more. But Plymouth has neither an airport nor a motorway and despite being the largest city on the south coast journey times to the capital are slower and its transport spend is smaller.
The far south west does not get our fair share of funding from Government and we have been underfunded compared to other regions in the UK. Luke has been campaigning since before he was elected to get the region’s fair share of support and funding from the government. We still have a way to go. Here are Luke’s pledges for the upcoming General Election:
- A fast and resilient railway, more trains on the CrossCountry route and electrification of the line
- Extend the M5 from Exeter to the Tamar Bridge making the A38 safer with more capacity and more noise reduction
- End the sale and use of diesel and petrol engines by the 2030s by installing more electric vehicle charging points and making electric cars more affordable
- More bus routes, cleaner buses and more affordable fares
- Re-open Plymouth airport for military and emergency helicopter services and as a test-bed for electric aviation
- A cruise terminal at Millbay and for environmental improvements to cruise ships
- More dedicated cycle lanes, safer cycle routes and a new cycle lane on the A386 to Yelverton
- More parking spaces, more EV points and more residents’ parking spaces and action on air pollution on busy main and local roads to make our air easier to breathe
- Improve the road and pavement maintenance by ending the austerity cuts to local authorities transport budgets.
What is the funding gap?
- The funding gap for transport in the south-west is real. The Treasury’s country and regional analysis publication shows that, in 2015-16, the total identified Government expenditure on transport in the south-west was £277 per head. In London, the figure was £973 per head highlighting how we don’t get our fair share of funding.
- Spending in London is three and a half times that in the south-west, relative to population size.
- Spending in the south-west is the second lowest of all English regions, with only the east midlands being lower at £260 per head. These figures are greater when spending on transport infrastructure is factored in.
- The Treasury’s figures on public expenditure on rail by year and region from 2015-16 state that the figure for London is £5.16 billion, while the south-west gets £357 million.
Luke Pollard says:
“I am proud to be a Janner—someone from Plymouth. Having been born there and as we live there, we all know that there is one thing in which we can instinctively believe: our train line is not good enough, and other regions get more money. As a region we have been given, and have accepted, a poor deal from Government for too long.
Across nearly all areas of Government spending, the south-west, particularly the far south-west, receives below-average spend. In education, health, housing, road and rail the south-west lags at the bottom of the spending league tables. We need to change that, and we need to do it together.”
Below are Luke’s main transport priorities covering rail, road, air and sea:
A FAST AND RESILIENT RAILWAY, MORE TRAINS ON THE CROSSCOUNTRY ROUTE AND ELECTRIFICATION OF THE LINE
Decades of under-investment means the far south west’s only rail line is slower, more precarious and prone to disruption, than it should be. No other region would accept a railway that closes or is so fragile, so why should we?
Luke has been campaigning to cut journey times from Plymouth to London from an average of three hours and 30 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes. This is the ambition set out in the Peninsular Rail Task Force’s recommendations to Government. This cross-party body was created by Conservative councils in the region but only Labour backs its recommendations at a national level.
In the storms of 2014, the railway at Dawlish was literally washed away, costing the region £1bn in lost economic output. Despite the then Prime Minister David Cameron promising “money would be no object” to fix the trainline, five years on the trainline still closes during storms. Luke has been consistently campaigning for proper long-term funding for the Dawlish train line, in line with the recommendations of the Peninsula Rail Task Force.
Jeremy Corbyn has backed Luke’s plan and committed Labour to £2.5bn on rail upgrades in the South West – funding the next ten years of essential upgrades for the only train line in and out of the region. The Conservatives have not matched this pledge.
On February 15, 2019, the government announced £80m for immediate work on the train line at Dawlish. This was after Luke twice used Prime Minister’s Questions to press the PM on Dawlish funding. However, that amount will only cover some of the resilience work, and Luke has pledged to continue to fight for the remaining funding to stabilize the cliffs.
EXTEND THE M5 FROM EXETER TO THE TAMER BRIDGE MAKING THE A38 SAFER WITH MORE CAPACITY AND MORE NOISE REDUCTION
Plymouth needs better road and rail connections. Since being elected Luke has called for the extension of the M5 from Exeter to the Tamar Bridge to improve connectivity and business investment in Plymouth and also improve road safety. Luke believes that extending the M5 to the Tamar Bridge will symbolically demonstrate the world does not end at Exeter and that the far south west is truly open for business. Motorways are also the safest roads on the network and we know the A38 is dangerous with far too many people having lost their lives on this road.
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, visited Plymouth in 2018 and backed the extension, calling the work “vital for the success of the south west economy.”
In May 2018, Labour confirmed that the next Labour Government confirmed would commission a study that would look at extending the A38 from Exeter to Plymouth, what work is required to upgrade the road to motorway standard, what parts could be reclassified as a motorway without additional work and what the approximate cost of this work could be and how that work could be spread over the long-term, including what planned upgrades are in the pipeline, to mitigate costs.
The study would then provide an evidence base for future investment decisions to be made against. The next Labour Government would commission the Highways Agency to lead this work and take input from local businesses, stakeholders, Local Enterprise Partnerships, councils and members of the public.
But we cannot have more road building if these roads are to be used by polluting petrol and dirty diesel engines. That is why Luke has argued that an extended M5 must be for electric vehicles and not for carbon-polluting engines.
END THE SALE AND USE OF DIESEL AND PETROL ENGINES BY THE 2030s BY INSTALLING MORE ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING POINTS AND MAKING ELECTRIC CARS MORE AFFORDABLE
Climate change is real, and this Tory government has not done nearly enough to address the urgent climate emergency. Luke is extremely concerned about the fact that the UK has routinely exceeded the legal levels for air pollution, and he believes that the air pollution crisis is a national scandal, and that urgent action must be taken.
In order to reach our climate goals, Luke believes that radical steps must be taken. That means moving away from words and promises and moving towards bold action. Luke was one of the first MPs to call for Parliament to declare a climate emergency and that means we must do things differently.
Labour’s ambitious goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 require equally ambitious actions. In October 2019, Labour pledged to end the sale of any non-electric cars by 2030 and significantly lowering the use of any non-electric means of transportation, as this is an important step in the right direction to protect our environment. Since becoming MP, Luke has been advocating for the implementation of more affordable electric cars as well as electric car charging stations.
Proper funding still needs to be allocating to reach these targets, and Luke has pledged to continue the fight for our environment and our future.
MORE BUS ROUTES, CLEANER BUSES AND MORE AFFORDABLE FARES
Plymouth deserves more frequent and affordable buses across the city. Bus services are lifelines for many people in Plymouth, without them many residents would be confined to their homes unable to reach work, healthcare or friends and family. There are over 17 million bus journeys in Plymouth every year, but we have the potential to increase that number, make travel more accessible and in so doing improve the lives of people. If we are going to address the issue of climate change and air pollution, we should be encouraging more people to take the bus to travel, to go to work, and to other locations. Those buses must also be cleaner and greener with electric, hydrogen and hybrid engines replacing diesel engines.
However, our bus network has been under attack from the Conservative government and their austerity agenda. Labour is committed to spend more than £1 billion to reverse Tory bus cuts that were responsible for the cutting of 3,000 bus routes nationwide. Luke also supports reforming our bus system. A Labour government would require all bus drivers and staff to complete approved disability equality training, along with environmental changes and promotion of greener engines.
RE-OPEN PLYMOUTH AIRPORT FOR MILITARY AND EMERGENCY HELICOPTER SERVICES AND AS A TEST-BED FOR ELECTRIC AVIATION
In 2010, Plymouth airport was closed under a Conservative Council and a Conservative Government. As a result, the airport has been sitting unused, falling further into disrepair.
Luke has been a champion in fighting for the reopening of Plymouth airport. He has frequently pressured government ministers to make sure Plymouth gets its fair share in transport funding needed to open the airport. He sees the airport as a driver for job creation in our city.
But to reflect the climate emergency Luke wants Plymouth Airport to be at the forefront of the electric aviation revolution. Aviation contributes to climate change and we must have greener flights. In an increasingly international and globalised world, people will continue to want to fly and so we must make flying greener. That means stopping use of aviation fuel and moving to transition fuels on the way to truly green, electric aviation powered from renewable sources.
Since he was elected Luke has been working as the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation. In that role, he has worked with MPs of all parties to protect airfields and re-open airports like Plymouth. Luke is the current Parliamentary lead of the All-Party Group’s Airfields Working Party.
A CRUISE TERMINAL IN MILLBAY AND FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS TO CRUISE SHIPS
Plymouth has a superb and growing tourism offer. Whether for domestic or international visitors Plymouth has so much to offer. We now have over 5 million visitors a year and our ambition as a city must be to increase this number, creating jobs and bringing money to our city especially its waterfront and historic Barbican.
Mayflower 400 offers the chance to hugely promote our city’s tourist offer and create new infrastructure that would develop our visitor economy further. We already have cruise ships visiting the city where passengers tender off. Mayflower 400 has provided an opportunity for more cruise ships to visit Plymouth in 2020.
Luke wants to build on this success and since being elected has been campaigning for the creation of a cruise ship terminal in Millbay. This would provide power and facilities for cruise ships as well as letting more passengers visit our city, spending money in our shops, bars and cafes. This is a long-term campaign that will take many years to achieve but it is a fight worth fighting according to Luke.
Luke has also called for cruise ships to address their climate impacts with new, cleaner fuels.
MORE DEDICATED CYCLE LANES, SAFER CYCLE ROUTES AND A NEW CYCLE LANE ON THE A386 TO YELVERTON
Dedicated cycle lanes and cycle routes are essential for the safety of the hundreds to thousands of people in Plymouth who use bikes to travel to work, school, and other places. As a cyclist, Luke wants to see more cycle lanes across Plymouth.
The problem is that the Conservative Government is not expecting to meet its own pretty average targets for cycling and walking. The Government published its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in April 2017. It set out the Government’s ambition to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys by 2040 and included a specific objective to double the number of people cycling by 2025. However, in May 2019 the Government admitted that a major intervention would be required to meet its own cycling and walking targets. It has also estimated that its current policies will only deliver around a third of the gap to meet the 2025 cycling target. That is not good enough.
Cycling and walking can simultaneously address air pollution, congestion and public health issues caused by inactive lifestyles. As a member of the Shadow Minister in the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs team, Luke has been keeping a close eye on policies around air pollution and holding the Government to account for their poor record. Furthermore, Luke believes that encouraging active travel would breathe new life into Plymouth by reclaiming the streets and creating public spaces that are free from traffic and accompanying pollutants. Luke is working with Plymouth City Council to support their bids for cycle funding and to improve cycling provision in the city.
Luke is a supporter of the campaign to build new cycle lanes along the A386 to Yelverton. The northern corridor out of the city is not good for cycling and the route along the moor from Roborough to Yelverton is especially bad. Although this is outside Plymouth, Luke thinks it would substantially improve connectivity and encourage more people to explore the moor from the city and also out of the cars for this journey.
MORE PARKING SPACES, MORE EV POINTS AND MORE RESIDENTS’ PARKING SPACES AND ACTION ON AIR POLLUTION ON BUSY MAIN AND LOCAL ROADS TO MAKE OUR AIR EASIER TO BREATHE
Breathing clean air is a human right. Exposure to PM2.5 should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, according to the World Health Organisation, but in Plymouth there are communities where the figure is 12 micrograms. This is not acceptable and damages public health. All our children deserve to breathe clean air.
The Government must not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Luke has ambitious plans to tackle air pollution because this is not just an air or climate problem, it is also a social justice problem: as our poorest communities are hit hardest by air pollution. We need to be bold and tackle this invisible threat head on. Communities throughout the UK are suffering now, and if we do not deal with this, we will leave future generations with poorer health, poorer outcomes and more pollution to deal with. That is simply not acceptable.
IMPROVE THE ROAD AND PAVEMENT MAINTENANCE BY ENDING THE AUSTERITY CUTS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES TRANSPORT BUDGETS
Luke wants to see more investment in roads and pavements, filling in potholes, resurfacing tarmac and ensuring that accidents from damaged roads and pavements are cut. Plymouth City Council has had their budget cut by over 60% since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. The budget cuts have led to less money being available for basic services and that includes road and pavement upgrades. Austerity has caused real harm in the South West, yet we don’t get our fair share of funding in the first place, even before the city’s Conservative MPs voted to cut it further.