Wasting parliamentary time

The incidence of vote fraud in the UK is vanishingly small.

This post Brexit government seems remarkably keen to solve microscopic and even non existent problems. The incidence of vote fraud in the UK is vanishingly small. Very effective UK legislation to tackle vote fraud is already in place. QED Vote fraud does not need new legislation.

However imposing “voter ID” is highly likely to have undesirable, oppressive and discriminatory effects and our UK government and our MP know this. Because making it harder to vote suppresses the vote in groups which find things hard anyway.

But there would be no harm in raising voter awareness of vote fraud. Vote fraud can and has been effectively detected and prosecuted: here in Peterborough and elsewhere. In fact, anybody taking part in the electoral process can spot vote fraud and report it (as long as they know what to look out for). Moreover it is already a statutory responsibility of the police to protect our democratic systems. If you witness vote fraud while it is actually happening, call the police on 999. If you’ve seen it in the past, report it online. It is a crime, like any other. If our MP is aware of instances which have not been detected, reported and prosecuted, perhaps he could explain what advice he gave those who witnessed a crime and what the police did with all those reports?

If my MP believes that the incidence of what he believes is a problem is statistically higher than extremely rare in the UK or if a vote fraud has ever been shown to have influenced the result of an election, perhaps he or our new Police and Crime Commissioner could produce the evidence? Evidence of crime can overturn an election result in the UK, which is exactly as it should be. But while not having enough evidence to substantiate your case can be expensive when an accusation goes to court (as happened after Peterborough’s own 2019 by election) wasting his constituents’ time is not chargeable to our MP and even more unfortunately (given the urgency of what needs doing in parliament) no offence of wasting parliamentary time has yet been put on the statute book. Perhaps it should be?

Peterborough Council Leader would like to ban cycling in entire city centre

This evening Cllr Darren Fower proposed a motion at Full Council.   The motion read “With hundreds of people having signed up to a petition to support to introduce a cycle lane along Bridge Street, and given the Council Leader’s clear concerns regarding potential safety issues from a minority of cyclists, this Council recommends that the Cabinet introduce a bespoke cycle lane along this stretch from Cathedral Square to the junction with Bourges Boulevard.” (Agenda, p96)

Councillor Fox stood up and said that he was a long standing Cycling Touring Club member but that he got off and walked in Bridge Street.

Councillor Swift said he had been cycling for over 75 years.  To interjections he confirmed that yes, he was still riding the same bicycle.    And that he thought that the council should ban cycling from the top of Cowgate to the end of Long Causeway [ie to extend to double its length the current Bridge Street ban].

Council Leader, Councillor Cereste said  “I agree Madam Mayor.  We are an environment city.  We provide cycle ways.  Let’s be reasonable.    In the city centre it just doesn’t work.  A few walks is good for cyclists.  A few days ago a cyclist was coming down Bridge Street past the town hall.  He didn’t care about anybody – past coffee bars – past people.  I had to drag my little boy out from in front of him.  Another occasion: a small white haired lady she nearly spun on his air. [?]   He didn’t get across Bourges Boulevard: he couldn’t stop, he spun round the lady on his bike.  Majority are nice sensible people.  Bridge Street isn’t safe to enjoy.  As much as I have great sympathy for cyclists – if I had my way it would be the entire city centre.

Councillor Miners said Peterborough has a population of 180,000 and the petition was signed by very small numbers.  That cyclists were terrorising pedestrians.  That it wasn’t about having a designated cycle lane in Bridge Street.

Councillor North said it was nonsense.

Councillor McKean said it was not really practical.  That we are encouraging young families into pedestrianised zones.  And the blind and partially sighted.  And that Councillor Fower should take the Data Act into account when telling us who said what on his petition.

Councillor Over said lets move to a vote.

Councillor Sharp said he’d discovered the location of Narnia.  It was two rows in front of him.  Where Councillor Fower sat.  That he was a Health and Safety officer and it worried him just reading it.  He’d spent five minutes reading it.  And for the first minute he just laughed.

Councillor Fitzgerald said that Councillor Fower had mentioned Cambridge in his opening address.  But he’d heard a story about a doctor and a five year old injured mixing cyclists and pedestrians.  He’d ban cycling in all pedestrian areas.  The cycle route is Wentworth Street.  He would ask the leader to use the budget to yank everybody off a cycle.  That Councillor Fower was using social media.  It is an accident waiting to happen.  And that his own wife had been injured in a collision with a cyclist.

Councillor Ash said he wasn’t convinced that cyclists would adhere to it.  The other end of Bridge Street permitted cyclists outside the Magistrates Court.  They don’t always stay on the side they are supposed to.  We see it everyday.   People wandering from shop to shop.

Councillor Martin said he was a cyclist and he wanted a cycle route adjacent to or parallel to Bridge Street.

Councillor Goodwin said “Thank you.  The city centre is part of my portfolio.  Thank you for your common sense.  The speeds that some people go through is an accident waiting to happen.”

Councillor Sandford, seconding the motion responded.  “I’d like the press and the public to take notice.  The intention of this council is to ban cycling.  We have the largest network of cycleways.   But they are disjointed at the city centre, especially Bridge Street [where cycling is banned Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm].  We are proposing a cycle lane to segregate cyclists from pedestrians.

Councillor Fox said they can’t mix if cyclists are on their bikes.  That Councillor Cereste is talking about abuses which happen.  The current system isn’t working.  It is confusing.  That Councillor Cereste was actually sat with a policeman trying to stop people from cycling.  Why not have a review?  That would be better than extremist policies prohibiting cycling completely.

Councillor Fower listed people who were in support of a cycle lane and cited someone called Mike George who had claimed that the current ban was not policed effectively.   And that the motion proposed a common sense solution to a self created problem.

Councillor Cereste raised a point of information.  This was that the motion was not common sense.  That if we put a cycle lane from the top of Bridge Street to the crossing at TK Maxx people would cross and go from one shop to another while on the cycle lane people would be doing 20 to 30mph.  It is just daft.

Councillor Sandford requested enforcement of standing orders, if we couldn’t have enforcement of the cycling ban, since Councillor Cereste’s point was not a point of information at all.  He hinted that the interim legal officer (the regular one was unable to attend) didn’t have the experience to cope with enforcing procedures.

Councillor Cereste said he’d corrected Councillor Sandford on common sense.

The legal officer said he’d been doing this job for 25 years, just not for Peterborough.

Four people voted in favour, everyone else against, except Councillor Ed Murphy, who abstained.