This article in the Leicester Mercury about our video Traffic Removal and the Renaissance of Leicester, is typical of media coverage of traffic removal initiatives – and attempts by local authorities to improve urban areas, in general. They have taken a party political angle, inviting the leader of the opposition to criticise what they have portrayed as a personal endorsement of the Mayor. It prompted one “disgusted of Leicester” to email me saying “I can only presume you are a consultant to the Mayor”. Just for the record, no-one involved in making that film has received any payment for work related to Leicester City Council, nor do any of us have any political connections to the administration there.
Amongst the presentations at our recent conference and this broader list of traffic removal initiatives, there are authorities controlled by Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and no overall control. Amongst the 'European best practice' cities I have visited there have also been bold initiatives taken by mayors or councils of the left (Lyon, Groningen), the right (Bordeaux, Chartres), the Greens (Freiburg) and many more where incremental improvements have been made over time, under administrations of differing political complexions. (One exception to this broad spectrum is that populist parties such as UKIP or the Front National in France tend to be strongly opposed). The ‘strong leadership’ that I refer to at the end of that video may come from one party or one leader in power for an extended period of time or it may flow from a broad consensus, where all the political parties likely to form an administration agree on a general direction.