Leeds MAG Virtual Hustings 2019

At Leeds MAG we strongly believe in the idea of “My bike, my life, my choice”. We also want to do what we can to help people make an informed decision. The general election on the 12th of December will be an important one for various reasons. Whatever the outcome there are likely to be big changes ahead. With this in mind we got in touch with as many candidates as possible in every constituency in Leeds and Bradford plus Harrogate and Knaresborough. Our team of volunteers sent the following email to every candidate that we could find contact details for:

Hello. I’m a member of the Motorcycle Action Group and I live in the <constituency>. As of November 2018 there were 57,000 holders of full motorcycle licences in the BD and LS postcode areas. I’m interested to know what your position is on the following motorcycle-related issues so I can share them with our members.

1. Motorcycle theft is a major concern. What steps would you take to reduce it?

2. How do you see motorcycles fitting into promoting sustainable transport and alternatives to private cars?

3. How would you ensure the interests of motorcyclists and “the right to ride” are protected in potential future legislative changes?

4. What measures would you take to ensure the interests of motorcyclists are not adversely affected by autonomous vehicles, “black box” telemetry and other changes in technology?

If you’d like to know more about the Motorcycle Action Group you can visit the website at http://www.mag-uk.org. You can find out more about the Leeds branch at https://leeds.mag-uk.org or the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LeedsMotorcycleActionGroup/.

Thank you.

We’d like to thank Manny, Paul, Dave, Keith, Chris, Nikos, Dan and Matt for doing this.
The responses that we’ve had are organized by constituency. We’ll be updating this list as they come in. Who you should vote for is your choice but hopefully it should help you make your decision.

Leeds Central

Ed Carlisle – Green Party

1. Motorcycle theft is a major concern. What steps would you take to reduce it?
Above all else, I’m interested in the Green Party’s commitment to decentring policing out of mega-stations like the one at Elland Road, and seeing more police officers present more of the time in communities. I also personally would like to see commitments from the police, regarding how they will relate (and specifically, respond) to residents. Too often people feed info in, and it might or might not be used, but the residents are left in the dark, and are unlikely to have any indication as to whether it’s been worthwhile. This breaks the relationship between community and police. To build up police capacity, but also the willingness of local people to cooperate with them, we need more of this. I’m also personally very committed to N’hood Watch (am currently helping to set up / support three.) Finally, I’d also be int’d to hear what you think – you’re at the coalface, you see this issue, and you probably have better insights than any of us.
2. How do you see motorcycles fitting into promoting sustainable transport and alternatives to private cars?
They’re good. The Greens have them mid+ way up their hierarchy of transport modes – definitely above cars.
3. How would you ensure the interests of motorcyclists and “the right to ride” are protected in potential future legislative changes?
Is this right under threat? I’m largely libertarian (wanting to give people max freedom, as much of the time as possible), so would happy to work with you on this.
4. What measures would you take to ensure the interests of motorcyclists are not adversely affected by autonomous vehicles, “black box” telemetry and other changes in technology?
This is really interesting, and concerning. I have serious concerns about autonomous vehicles, on several fronts. Again though, I’m sorry, but I don’t have answers – and it’s not spelt out in our manifesto. But, as above, one of my main beefs with politics is that (too often) the ‘experts’ (ie the people at the coalface/grassroots – in this case, you) are not front and centre regarding policy making. So, sorry to throw it back on you, but what you do, what do you foresee, and what you do propose? Many thanks, best wishes.

Bradford West

Darren Parkinson – Green Party

The Green Party are supportive of smaller, low powered motorcycles in general preference to cars (especially those with a single occupant) as they take up less road space and are more economic consumers of fuel. However, the Green Party does not wish to see increased use of motorcycles because they emit pollution and noise and can endanger road users. The aim is to encourage much less use of high powered machines and for low powered machines to offer an alternative for those who currently use these or cars and could not transfer to more sustainable modes.
Regarding motorcycle crime – The Green Party believe that everyone has a right to feel safe. We want to tackle the underlying causes of crime more effectively than CCTV cameras, stop and search or draconian sentencing can ever do. So we will focus on the prevention of crime with community-based policing, alongside investment in education and employment. Invest in youth services and centres, to help turn at-risk children away from crime. This approach, I believe will lead to a happier society where people and their property will be safer.


John Grogan – Labour Party

Thank you for your email. If re-elected, I would be more than happy to meet you and discuss this issue further. As you can imagine; my time is a bit pressed right now, as I am trying to defend a slim majority of 249! However, I have been enthused by the motorcycle industry’s desire to introduce a greater number of electric bikes, and would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Leeds Central

Jack Holland – Lib Dems

  1. I had my moped stolen as a 17 year old… And car crime is a big issue in Leeds (I live in Hyde Park where theft is high). CCTV can work and help with convictions.
  2. E-scooters etc are going to become hugely important as we transition to a de-carbonised economy. Motorbikes are much more efficient in terms of climate and road space.
  3. I don’t think this is at stake at present. Bikes are likely to be more important going forward.
  4. Policy should be research-led and evidence-based. So the science and tech are crucial.


Philip Davies – Conservative

The motorcycle industry is extremely important to the Shipley economy and Shipley is a leading hub in this sector.
You and your members are clearly have more expertise than me in this field. Any action on these or any other issues you would like to see taken by the Government, Bradford Council or the Police please let me know and I will very happily lobby them on your behalf.
I would also be happy to meet with you and your members to discuss your concerns in greater detail.

Bradford East

Linden Kemkaran – Conservative

thank you for your email, I do hope you, or a representative can come to my public meeting this Thursday 5 Dec, details are below.
I look forward to hearing about your concerns.

Leeds West

Mike Davies – Alliance for Green Socialism

Thanks for your email. I’ll do my best to respond to your questions, but I am not a motorcycle expert. (The nearest I came to owning a motor bike was trying to buy one in my teens. It wouldn’t start, so I didn’t. I did do a lot of push-bike riding.)
Theft: I can only refer you to our policies on community policing, friendly communities and a local welcomed police presence. Do you have any good ideas?
Sustainable transport: I don’t know the figures but I presume that for personal transport a motor bike is mush more efficient than a car (far less metal to carry around). In that sense we would prefer bikes to cars. Similarly for road space.
Right to ride: I am not aware of potential threats to motor cycles in particular.
Autonomous vehicles: I think these are potentially a huge threat to all highway users. I concede that it is possible that an entirely autonomous world, where all vehicles were auto, might be safer statistically. However, a mixed-mode world scares me, especially with the recent occurences of auto vehicles confusing white lorries with the sky, and failing to see pedestrians. Obviously, to the extent that bikes are owned and ridden as a matter of pleasure rather than utility, a more autonomous world would be a huge problem. I would be interested to know your views on this.
I attach the general election manifesto of the Alliance for Green Socialism. Any comments or improvements would be welcome.

Daniel Whetstone – SDP

Thank you for contacting me. I have requested to join your Facebook group, simply so can learn and understand more.
I will be completely honest with you, I’m not a motorcycle person. I fell off my BMX so many times as a kid, that the prospect of getting on a contraption with two wheels and an engine just frightened me.
Obviously, we want to see more police, free to be active and effective against all crime not just motorbike theft. Nor stuck in the office swamped by bureaucracy and paperwork.
Regarding sustainability, you would have to educate me on what this entail in the bigger picture of things.
For all I have little personal desire to ride a bike, not even a push iron these days. People should have the freedoms and rights to choose such things as they see fit. Tolerance is a a big part of the SDP beliefs.
Over a pint, I have heard suggested by other bikers that there should possibly be restrictions on the engine size with regards the age/experience of the rider. To prevent it being too much to soon. But only as a safety concern. Which made sense to me. But is not set in stone.
What’s the fear and repercussions of black boxes then? I wouldn’t choose to have one in my car. But I get the impression you think this will be an inevitably you do not want. Why?
If I am able to I would happily meet to go over such concerns. Obviously it is a busy time right now. But let me know.


Quinn Daley – Green

Thanks for your patience for a response.
1. The Green Party believes in restorative justice for crimes. We believe it’s better for perpetrators to be required to make reparation for their crimes, rather than be subjected to punishments that do nothing to improve the situation for the victim of the crime and are not always effective in rehabilitating offenders. Theft is often motivated by social conditions, and a Green government would take major steps to improve the social conditions that lead to theft, for example by introducing a universal basic income so that everyone has enough money for a basic standard of living, and by transferring the focus of drugs policy from a criminal issue to a healthcare issue, breaking the link between drugs and crime.
2. I’m not familiar with advances in motorcycle technology so please forgive me for not knowing much about how to answer this question. I’m aware that low-powered motorcycles such as scooters are much better for the environment per-person than cars, especially if the cars only have one occupant, but my (perhaps outdated) knowledge is that motorcycles are almost always operated on fossil fuels or renewable carbon-based fuels such as biodiesel. Is that correct? I think I would be keen to promote any fully electric or non-carbon fuelled motorcycles and I’d be very interested to hear more about these if you know about them!
3. Being honest, the Green Party is keen to prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users over those of motor vehicle users. However, there will always be a place for motor vehicles in society and we are not proposing scrapping roads for motor vehicles altogether! I think the problems we face on the roads right now are primarily due to cars and industrial/commercial vehicles, so changes that affect motorcycles would not be a major part of any legislative changes I would advocate for.
4. The Green Party applies the Precautionary Principle to technologies that have the potential to cause harm. That means that while we might see the potential benefit of these technologies, they should not be employed outside a scientific setting unless their danger to society has been carefully disproven. This means that certainly in the short term, under a Green government these technologies would not be introduced right away, and any gradual roll-out would be subject to testing that they do not interfere with the safety of other road users.
Thank you for getting in touch. If you have any further questions please do let me know!

Stuart Andrew – Conservative

Thank you very much for taking the time to get in touch with your questions.
I recall our previous exchanges on this issue and I am aware of how seriously you take your role as Representative to the Leeds Motorcycle Action Group, which is commendable. I appreciate you have some specific questions that you are putting forward to the Pudsey candidates which I have tried to answer the best I can below.
I do appreciate concerns over motorcycle theft and I understand the Conservatives in Government set up a new Home Office task-force to tackle vehicle theft this year. This task-force replicated the successful model used to reduce moped crime in London and therefore is of great benefit to motorcycle owners. I would of course be happy to reach out to the Home Office if I am re-elected in December to ask what steps the task-force are taking specifically to address the issue of motorcycle theft and share your views on the issue with the task-force so that these can be taken into account.
Given the climate change crisis and recently announced target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, sustainability is of course on the agenda and I appreciate this may be of concern to motorcyclists. That said, it is apparent within the automotive industry that manufacturers of all types of vehicles, including motorcycles, are moving towards cleaner and greener technology as an alternative to the internal combustion engine. I do appreciate the benefits of reducing private car usage from a sustainability perspective and I do indeed see a place for motorcycles in doing so.
I can appreciate that autonomous vehicles and advancements in technology would be of particular concern to motorcyclists. However, my understanding is that the technology has been developed with the mindset that autonomous vehicles will still need to be able to detect and avoid sudden obstacles, such as pedestrians or motorbikes. With that in mind, I can answer your two final questions by saying I would strenuously oppose the induction of any technology that would endanger motorcyclists and other road users. If re-elected, I would not hesitate to make these concerns, or any other concerns, that the Leeds Motorcycle Action Group are having clear to the Government and Department for Transport should such a situation arise in the future.
You will hopefully be aware from our engagement over the years that I am always happy to help raise your concerns with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council and the Department for Transport where appropriate to request changes that will better protect motorcyclists on your behalf. If I am re-elected, I will of course continue to do so.
I hope that answers your questions and thank you for taking the time to raise these with me.

Morley and Outwood

Craig Dobson – Lib Dem

1 Theft may well reflected the high levels of social inequalities which the Liberal Democrat manifesto will address. Education and local police will also deter. I am also open to other ideas and suggest we talk if I am elected.
2 Certainly better than cars but not as good as the bicycle. The latter is not appropriate for most people on longer distances and some people with disabilities. I think it might fuse with electric bikes.
3 Bicycles will be supported. I think we must make the case for the motor bike use for historical vehicles (which they will become) and the motorised form which can take people long distances with minimal pollution especially if the disposal of batteries is considered. They will also be seen as a leisure pursuit out of town. I will support their continued use.
4 AI driven vehicles are still along way off in reality. The human brain deals with unexpected events so much better. I imagine we will have separate lanes for AI vehicles on motorways and designated lanes in cities with lots more park and ride.

Leeds East

Richard Burgon – Labour

Richard Burgon here. Many thanks for taking the time to email me about various important motorcycle related issues.
I must admit, I am no expert on motorcycles, having never been a rider myself. If I am re-elected on December 12th, it would be great if you could come to one of my advice sessions so that we can discuss the questions listed above further and I can better understand the kinds of issues motorcyclists like yourself are facing.
With regards to vehicle theft, the Conservatives, who have been in power since 2010, have cut more than 20,000 police since 2010. A Labour Government will restore police numbers and have 2,000 more officers on the frontline. In West Yorkshire, the number of police officers cut was 645.
Since then, recorded crime has risen, including cases of vehicle theft.
A Labour government will invest in policing to prevent crime and make our communities safer. We will rebuild the whole police workforce, recruiting more police officers, police community support officers and police staff.
I hope this information is of some use, but as I say, in the event that I’m re-elected and therefore become an MP again, please do come to see me at one of my MP’s advice sessions so we can have a chat about motorcycle related issues and you can tell me more about what you believe needs to be done, and what can be done.

Shahab Adris – Green

Many thanks for your email. It was very interesting to read and to learn about MAG UK. My initial response is that I need more awareness about motorcycle related issues. If elected or not, I’d love to sit down with you sometime to chat about all the things that concern you and your members.
In response to your questions:
1. Theft of any kind should be dealt with utmost seriousness. I’d like to learn more about any trends and patterns of motorcycle theft so we can put forward appropriate measures. I think this is a team effort so will need your expertise and suggestions to see how we can reduce and even stop any further theft.
2. I’m definitely up for promoting environmentally friendlier modes of transport. Although will need to be realistic when it comes to families who require larger vehicles. I’m interested in motorcycles myself so will be interested to see how we can promote this particular mode of transport.
3. I’d like to know if these rights are under threat? But of course will encourage all sensible and safe policies ensuring the right to ride.
4. I definitely need more information on this. Can you shed more light on these concerns please?

Sarah Wass – Brexit Party

Thanks for getting in touch. First of all, I think you ought to know I am a fan of all things two wheeled !
I understand your concerns about some of the below and in-fact, with the alienation of all things petrol/diesel, I’m surprised that motorbikes are not being discussed.
So here is a quick summary of my views :
1. Theft and crime is a huge issue and is top of my agenda for Leeds East. We must get more police on the ground and make a concerted effort to reduce all vehicle theft, which often facilitates more crime. I myself was impacted twice in less than two months by vehicle theft and I really didn’t feel like it was a priority. I firmly believe this was a resource issue.
2. I do. Whether motorcyclists see it that way is another thing. There is much more to do on the technology front to ensure there are more fuel options which are affordable to all, whilst still maintaining the thrill of the ride.
3. I would ensure any legislative changes would not alienate this group. On the basis our roads are overcrowded, motorcycles are not tapped into as much as they could be.
4. Technology should be there to help and not hinder – otherwise what is the point.

Harrogate and Knaresborough

Mark Sewards – Labour

Thank you for your message. I’m not an expert on these issues at all but I’m willing to be educated especially since there are so many motorcycle license holders in our region.

Labour wants to tackle crime, including motorcycle theft, by reversing the Tory cuts to the police and re-establishing neighbourhood policing to keep our communities safe.

I can’t say I have a definite position on the other issues raised in your email but I’ll look into how we can address these challenges and read the information you have sent across.

If elected, I’d be happy to meet with the Motorcycle Action Group to discuss your concerns.

Kieron George – Yorkshire Party

Thanks for reaching out to me on behalf of MAG. My main mode of transport is my electric bike, so I face a lot of the same issues as Motorcyclist.
1. I have had two of my electric bikes stolen previously, neither of which have been recover so the current inadequacy of protections in this area. I completely agree we need better security in this area.
2. Currently Motorcycles represent about 1% of transport emissions (which represent a third of UK emissions), and is not a major concern, but improvement to electric transport infrastructure would see some changeover to greener electric motorbikes, and carbon offsetting can easily cover Motorcycles emissions.
3. As a cyclist myself, I will no tolerate any infringement on the rights of any riders, whether they ride pedal, motor, electric and horses.
4. The recent death of Elaine Herzberg due to a Uber self-driving car is an outrageous example of gross negligence and recklessness. I will not tolerate any leniency when it comes to AI or any other technology that puts lives at risk.