Soubry: On Yer Bike!

Oh Jeez, she’s at it again. After being relative quiet in foot/mouth interfacing our ‘Voice in Westminster ‘ (yes, she really used to say that! Imagine!), Anna Soubry has launched back onto the scene with another  splutter of mouth-guff.

This time it’s around cycling. Let’s get some background out first. Cycling is, right now, seeing something of a renaissance in Notts. Petrol prices are constantly on the rise; the tram works mean it’s often quicker to pedal rather than drive, and hey, that Bradley Wiggins bloke seems like a nice guy, yeah?

We also have a rich history here: not just Raleigh in Lenton, but Beeston had Humber Cycles, which drove many innovations that led to the sort of bikes we have now. Beeston Road Club has been active for over 60 years, with Olympic and Commonwealth medal winners amongst it’s ranks, as well as Sir Paul Smith, who still keeps ties with the club.


Two Local Icons

So does Anna support this? After all, for all those impoverished fatties out there she can’t stop seeing, it must be ideal: lose weight! Save money! Let’s see what she said when in front of the parliamentary Get Britain Cycling Inquiry:

[Cycling] is just, often, a great way to travel. But I think we just have to accept the limitations of it. And I’ll just say that I never ever even considered taking one of my children on a bike. I lived in Nottingham for the vast majority of my life. Even though we have cycle lanes, you must be joking. I would not put a child on a bicycle in the city of Nottingham. I just don’t think I could have been that brave, or courageous. And the lanes weren’t extensive enough.

Let’s ignore the fact that Anna once again seems to think she’s MP for Nottingham, rather than Broxtowe. She still lives in Nottingham, popping here by her rather large car when she senses a photo-op, so it’s an easy mistake to make. We’ll also put aside the tautology. Let’s deal with the meat of this.

Anna’s position in the government is to speak out on public health. The role means that she should be looking for ways to improve public health in general. An easy way to do this is to promote cycling. She should be lobbying the transport department to fund better cycling access, throw her weight behind workplace cycling initiatives and possibly get in the saddle herself.

I’ve cycled extensively in Nottingham: I commuted there and back daily for several years. I agree that the paths – especially along Castle Boulevard leave a fair bit to be desired, but generally we’re well served. The greatest dangers were idiot drivers using bus lanes. Then Soubs said something that I simply do not believe:

And I’m just thinking that, in a way… I used to make my daughters walk to school. It was very simple, I just refused to drive them there. And this is in the city of Nottingham. And in many ways I think I would have been more concerned about their safety if they had cycled to school, than walking to school. I’m not saying I’m right to feel that, but as a mum looking back, I think that would be right.

A few years back, a fellow Girl’s High School pupil told me how she’d get lifts home with the Soubry children from school and netball practise: and frequently stop to castigate prostitutes for plying their trade on Forest Road. I digress, however.

I think that if you want to lead the sort of lives that most people do, which is when you have to go and do supermarket runs, I’ve never understood how you’re going to do all that [by bike]… So I think you’ve got to look at its limitations as an alternative to public transport, or cars, and so on.

Politicians really enjoy broad-strokes, don’t they? Yes, Anna. I don’t expect you to draft legislation forcing everybody to travel on bikes EVERYWHERE , ALL THE TIME. I don’t want you to make panniers compulsory, or it mandatory to carry around a puncture repair kit at all times. What I would like you to do is support and promote cycling, see how it can be made safer, more accessible and widespread. As the Minister for Public Health, you should be pointing out the simple equation:


Y’know, promote it, rather than scaremonger.

Many thanks to Rish for the tip-off .

14 thoughts on “Soubry: On Yer Bike!

  1. “…often quicker to pedal rather than cycle…”


  2. Steve Barber says:

    Perhaps the minister should follow her own organisation’s considered advice;

    She would be better employed trying to get cycling facilities improved. Last year there were 7 fatalities in the County; none in the City. The Conservative County Council have scrubbed out cycle lanes, the Labour City have created more. Instead of deriding people who try to become healthier and help the environment perhaps Miss Soubry should take the lead from her colleagues in the County (in a different party): and try to improve matters.
    I cycle 9 miles round the city to work and it’s nearly all on cycle paths or quiet roads. Sustrans have done some great work and are improving matters. I have taught my children to ride a bike just as I was taught to ride.

  3. tamar says:

    Cyclist fatalities in 2011 =107 (down 4% on previous year – but doubled in 2012 to 221)
    Pedestrain fatalities in 2011 = 453 (up 12%) [DfT]

    The figures have increased for the first time in a long time. The only road deaths to reduce are bus and coach figures.
    You could argue that the Government’s systematic scrapage of road safety grants, speed camera funding and mooting upping the national speed limit have all contributed…

    Eitherway, I’d say she has more chance of being knocked down by an majority in the next election.

  4. George Paechter says:

    Well, I, for one, do all my family’s supermarket shopping by bicycle.
    And, by the looks of Sainsbury’s bike stands, so do a lot of other people.

  5. Although I do have a car, for the majority of my local journeys, especially to work in the city centre, I cycle. Always have done. In all weathers. It seems the best way to me. Especially recently when all the roads have been gridlocked and it’s taken the best part of two hours for drivers to get home in the evening. Cycling should be encouraged at all levels of government. After all didn’t one senior Tory politician once say about getting on your bike!

  6. silent no longer says:

    Five seconds on Google seems to contradict your article.

    Could it be that you have an agenda against the aforementioned politician or maybe even her party?

    You strive to portray yourself as unbiased. A blogger with “no political axe to grind” or so I think I’ve read. You seem to write some half decent stuff every now and then but it’s frequently interspersed with nonsense. Anybody with half a brain can see you’re a labourite with a vendetta against Anna Soubry. How would you feel if somebody started a blog that closely observed everything you did and said and then picked fault?

    I could easily do it but to be honest I think I’d have my work cut out for me.

    • beestonia says:

      Erm, it doesn’t contradict at all. All quotes used were lifted verbatim and commented on. If Soubry is realistic about improving cycling amongst the population, she shouldn’t see it as just a part-time, sporty sort of thing, and should definately choose her phrasing with a higher degree of skill.

      I refer you to here: as an example on how the road cycling community feel.

      As for the accusation that I am a Labourite stooge with a vendetta against Soubry, I best point out that I’m not a member of any political party, never have been and I very much doubt ever will be. Yes, I do have a bias: we all do. My particular bias lies on the side of a public NHS free from profit and corporate takeover; an end to the harrying of the most vulnerable in society to protect the interests of the super-rich who are killing this country; and a belief that the worst thing to do to a very sick patient is to drain off the blood.

      A lot of what Labour did during their tenure in power I was vehemently opposed to, and still am: the failure to tighten up regulation in the City; Iraq; ID cards and the general erosion of civil liberties. If I had been writing this blog at the time that Nick Palmer voted in favour of Iraq / ID Cards then I’d attack these decisions robustly. Have a look back through the blog and you’ll see me criticise politicians of all stripes: I recently had a row with a Shadow Minister when he visited Beeston. In turn, I have praised Soubry for her defence of the CAB, her vote for gay marriage and other decisions. I’m happy we have a socially liberal MP rather than a member ofthe forthing lunatic right-wing which seem to be driving policy right now.

      I hear uncountable stories from Broxtowe residents about Anna and her lack of representation. Emails not replied to, campaigns ignored, etc. I report a fraction of this as it’s become far too familar, depressingly so. The idea that she is Broxtowe’s voice in Westminster is laughable: even a campaign such as her Greenbelt protection was sloppily done, taking Rushcliffe as it’s model: and look what happened there.

      Under Palmer, we had an MP who you might not necessarily agree with, but had the common decency to reply to those he was chosen to represent: I suppose a fore-runner of Miliband’s mooted ‘One-Nation’ Labour. If Soubry keeps failing to do her job, then she must be subject to due opprobrium. .

      If you wish to set up ‘a blog that closely observed everything you did and said and then picked fault’ well please do, I relish healthy debate. I only wish I could say Anna also shared that feeling. But please remember that I am not paid to spout my views, I do not claim to be Broxtowe’s voice and, unlike Anna, I actually know what it is like to live here.

    • Ellie says:

      MP’s are paid at least £65k a year from the public purse to represent our views in parliament and, as a junior minister, Ms Soubry will be receiving more. There is nothing unfair about this blog trying to keep our MP accountable. The author is an ordinary member of the public who gets no remuneration from the tax payer and “closely observing” such a person would be quite disproportionate.

      However, if you are interested in writing a counter-article, I am sure Matt would be happy to host it.

  7. I happen to think Nottingham (at least our side of it) is a brilliant place to cycle – sure, it’s not quite Amsterdam, but compared to most British cities we have good and safe cycle tracks. I don’t always cycle to work in town (it depends upon the weather and how I feel), but as Christopher said, it is actually a quicker and cheaper way of getting around at the moment.

    Beeston is an excellent place to cycle – you can get into town, Holme Pierrepont, along the river to Sawley and beyond, without once using a main road.

    However, if I lived in Mapperley I probably wouldn’t cycle – too hilly and narrow main roads. Maybe that is the problem Anna.

  8. tamar says:

    ‘Silent No More’, but anonymous? Why am I not surprised.

  9. Javid says:

    “Silent no more”: Another resident of some far away place no doubt. Perhaps he bought his partner a mountain bike for Christmas, you’d need one with all the hills in Mapperley.

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