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Chatty meets the pushbike mafia


ON January 29, a revised version of the Highway Code was published. It gave cyclists and pedestrians additional priority over motor vehicles in certain circumstances. These changes were agreed by the Department for Transport after public consultation and discussions with various interested parties. One such consultation occurred in July 2021 when the House of Commons Transport Committee took oral evidence from invited experts. Our man in Westminster, Sir Charles ‘Chatty’ Chatterton, a Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, is a member of the Transport Committee and he has sent TCW Defending Freedom an account of that meeting:

I regret to say that, on the afternoon in question, I was detained in Annie’s Bar by a fellow Committee member, a Scottish Nationalist, Gordon Lochodoom, who wanted my opinion about Old Whitty’s 12-Year-Old Single Malt matured in port barrels on the banks of the Spey. His intervention caused us to miss the start of the proceedings. 

I trust you will find these extracts from the minutes enlightening. The ‘Chair’ is my boss, the Transport Minister, a fellow by the name of Shapps. He has the demeanour of one of those people who leap out at you in the street and ask you to donate to sick donkeys in Eritrea.

Chair: We welcome Felicity Ponsonby-Warburton from Extinction Rebellion, who has kindly agreed to share her thoughts, and that of her colleagues, about the proposed revisions.

Felicity Ponsonby-Warburton: For too long this country has been addicted to travel in climate-destroying cars. If this is allowed to continue there will be no climate left to destroy. The Earth will become a barren rock. My colleagues and I have led the way in showing the world an alternative vision. We demand that all people become pedestrians or cyclists. The age of the car is over. We shouldn’t have to glue our faces to the M25 every few weeks to get this message across. We also demand . . .

Chair: Many thanks, Felicity, you have made some excellent points. Perhaps we could hear next from Eugene Sturmey-Archer who is, I believe, the leader of the Civil Service Greater London Cycling Club.

Eugene Sturmey-Archer: Thank you, Minister. For many months our members have been working from home, striving to stay fit for the road on the Pelotons kindly provided by our Departments. But in the course of time, this way of working will inevitably come to an end, and for one or two days each week we will have to dice with death as we hurtle past pedestrians on the overcrowded pavements of the city. Were we able to take our rightful place in the centre of the road, this hazard to innocent pedestrians could be avoided. It is not to say that we would entirely abandon the pavements, especially when the lights turn red at an inopportune time, but the incentive to use the road would be greatly enhanced if we had priority at all times. I am sure the Minister will agree . . .

Chair: I must say it was very brave of you to come to the House today, Eugene, and I do hope you manage to weave your way back to Putney without too many alarms for you or indeed the pedestrians. Now let’s have the representative from Preserve the Pollinators . . . yes, Ms Gloria Bramble.

Gloria Bramble: We are doomed. Cars kill bees. Lorries kill flies. Planes kill birds. Plants will die. Crops will fail. Trees will wither. People will starve. We are doomed. That is all.

Chair: Thank you Gloria, that was short and sweet, or not so sweet perhaps. I’ll pass on your comments to Defra.

There were also contributions from: Lucinda Prickle (Save the Hedgehog Alliance), Desmond Drudge (Stroud Midges Preservation Society), Brian May (Badger Bloke), Lydia Lycra (Bicycle Importers Association), and William Grumble (Hackney Smogbusters). The Minister thanked the expert witnesses for their testimony and praised the balanced nature of the consultation. A Mr J Bonington Jagworth had been invited to speak on behalf of the motoring community but was stuck in a pothole on the Stretchford bypass.

Unfortunately, the effects of the lunchtime libations, and a substantial helping of game pie, caused me to nod off for much of the proceedings and I wasn’t able to cross-examine the speakers in my usual incisive fashion. I also had to leave early to meet a delegation from Over Tittleham’s Young Farmers who have been concerned about sighting of a puma in the village.

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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