Letter to Gordon Dear Gordon,...
The Gruniad has done a good PDF
of the your new government but I would add an amendment to it.
We need a Minster of State for Active Travel and Fitness, it could be a joint appointment between the Department of Health and the Department of Transport in the same way that the Minister of State for Trade is between the Foreign Office and B.E.R.R.
Active Travel is shorthand for cycling and walking but basically covers anything that gets us out of motorcars and benefits our health and the environment. The job would basically be providing more and better opportunities for cycling and walking, promoting healthy lifestyles and tackling the car culture through urban design.
This is a job that would solve problems with both departments. At the moment the DOT is set up in a very anti green way and this needs to change. At the moment you have a Secretary of State, two Ministers of State one for roads and road safety and the other for aviation and shipping and a parliamentary undersecretary for railways.
I would change it like this. Split the aviation and shipping brief and give aviation to roads and shipping to railways this would create a vacancy in the DOT which could be filled with a Minster of State for Active Travel and Fitness. This would be also good for the Department of Health.
At the moment the NHS is a national illness service ie when we have something wrong with us it tries to fix it. The best way to improve our health though would be a change in lifestyle so this appointment would help rebalance the Department of Health from being to closely aligned with producer and indeed supplier interests to a situation where it takes into account the nationals wellness as well as illness.
We have an appalling car culture in this country, major lifestyle challenges that put the NHS at long term risk and an environment record that needs improvement. The vexing thing is that we know how to solve these challenges but what is needed is iron political will to see them through.