Wakefield MAG January 2009 Newsletter

Dear Wakefield MAG member,

Welcome to the Wakefield MAG e-newsletter. If you canít attend our Wednesday meetings regularly, itís the next best thing to keep you up to date with what we are up to.

I hope everyone had a brilliant Christmas and New Year. In addition to getting some Christmas pressies that you really wanted, hopefully you also got some that you gladly want to give away !!!! WHY ? ....... because the Wakefield MAG Post Christmas Auction is rapidly approaching (See below for details).

CONTENTS

1) Wakefield AGM
2) Post Christmas Auction
3) Manchester Congestion Charging
4) Bikes in Bus Lanes
5) Multi-Purpose Test Centres (MPTC)
6) MAG Policy Statements
7) 2009 Event Dates
8) Website updates
9) Forthcoming Events

1) Wakefield AGM

Our branch AGM will be held in the Grey Horse, on Wednesday 14th January, starting at 8:30pm. All members are invited to attend this special meeting, so please try to attend if you can. At this meeting there will be a review of the year, elections for the branch committee and the prize giving for our branch heroes. As this meeting is effectively a MAG political meeting, it carries with it a whopping 75 branch points for everyone who attends (a normal branch meeting only carries 5 points). As all the points are tallied at year end and go towards the branch heroes presentation, points really do mean prizes !!!! What better boost to your branch heroes tally for 2009 !!!

Hope to see you there.

2) Post Christmas Auction

The Wakefield MAG 5th annual Post Christmas Auction will be held on Wednesday 28th January, and if previous years events are anything to go by, an event not to be missed. The idea is that you bring along all your unwanted Christmas presents, together with other stuff you no longer want, or have the room for, donate them to the branch, and we auction them off to the highest bidder. Last year we raised £300 which was truly impressive, especially as the bidding on a lot of items started at 50p. There were also some real quality items donated, and hence, some real bargains to be had.

Already, a large number of quality items have been donated, so this years auction already promises to be a good one. The auction starts at 8pm, in the Grey Horse on Kirkgate. Hope to see you all there, donít forget to bring your unwanted Christmas pressies, and don't forget to bring some cash with you to 'Bag that Bargain' !!!

Proceeds from the auction will be split with a donation to a charitable cause (1/3) and 2/3 to the MAG fighting fund.

3) Manchester Congestion Charging

Plans to introduce road charging for motorists are in tatters after voters in Manchester delivered an overwhelming "No" to a road toll scheme. A referendum saw 79 per cent voting against proposals for peak-time tolls of up to £5 a day in what would have been Britain's biggest congestion charging zone. With just 21 per cent in favour, the overwhelming vote leaves road pricing, the Government's preferred idea for dealing with congestion, in disarray.

In Leeds, Tory politicians said they hoped the Government would now stop "bullying" local authorities into promoting congestion charge schemes.

But Labour councillors in the city said congestion charging ought to remain an option in Leeds and should be fully explored.

The city council is in the middle of a transport study looking at various options to reduce congestion but is several years behind the stage that Manchester has just reached. The study will be ready in 2010 and could include the option of a pay-as-you-drive scheme.

Commentators said the Manchester vote spelled the "death knell" for road pricing schemes in cities such as Leeds - at least in the short term.

Opponents of road pricing said it would be "brave" for any politician to suggest such schemes now, given the massive rejection in the Manchester referendum, in which more than one million people voted.

The Greater Manchester scheme needed approval in seven of the 10 local boroughs to get the green light - but was voted down in every one.

A total of 218,860 voted "Yes" with 812,815 voting "No". Turnout was 53.2 per cent.

Local councils wanted to charge drivers up to £5 a day to use the region's roads, to help pay for £2.7bn of investment in local, trains, trams and buses, promising a revolution in public transport - but voters were not convinced.

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley in Manchester, a long-time opponent of the scheme, said: "It's a brave politician that goes forward with such a scheme, unless it is an extraordinarily good scheme that virtually everybody benefits from."

RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said motorists were "tired" of being taxed, adding: "The 'No' vote will have ramifications up and down the country in cities such as Leeds, Bristol and Cambridge which have been watching this decision closely.

"This is likely to be the death knell for those schemes, certainly in the short to medium term."

Last night the leader of Leeds Council, Tory councillor Andrew Carter, said he hoped the Government would now stop "bullying" local authorities into promoting road pricing and invest in transport infrastructure.

But Coun Judith Blake, deputy leader of the Labour group on Leeds Council, said: "There is no doubt that the issue of congestion charging remains a hotly debated and contentious topic. The fact remains however that... our city is in desperate need of investment in its transport infrastructure."

Yorkshire MAG will be keeping a very close eye on developments in Leeds to ensure that bikers are not discriminated against and/or disadvantaged, in any future local transport strategy.

4) Bikes in Bus Lanes

January 5th marks the biggest milestone yet in the push for motorcyclists to be allowed in bus lanes, as lanes in London are thrown open to bikes.

Journeys for tens of thousands of riders will transform overnight as they are finally allowed into lanes previously shared by buses, taxis and cyclists.

Itís a landmark victory for MAG, who have campaigned long and hard, over a number of years.

The move is expected to give motorcycling a massive boost by cutting journey times and crashes, and signal the way for the rest of the country.

And with motorcycles and scooters already exempt from Londonís congestion charge, the latest step is set to put them head-and-shoulders above other transport modes as the best way to get around the capital.

The change will apply to red route bus lanes already used by cyclists and taxis and controlled by Transport for London (TfL), the capitalís transport authority. It means a total of 180 miles of bus lanes in the capital will be open to motorcyclists.

The move will start as an 18-month trial, after which a decision will be made on whether to make it permanent.

Well done to London Mayor Boris Johnson for delivering on his election promise to open up bus lanes to bikers.

5) Multi-Purpose Test Centres (MPTC)

As we all know this fiasco is still rolling on. Here is a basic overview, what the MAG National Committee are doing, and what local groups / members can do to help.

The test centres should have been all up and running by September 2008, but this did not happen in the numbers excepted. There should be 60 centres and there are currently only 30 and many people will have to travel far more than the recommended 45 minutes / 20 miles to a centre. This is not appropriate for new riders on 125s, especially as a number of routes (such as motorways) wont be available to them. The new test, which should have been implemented by the end of September, was postponed until March, to allow the remaining MPTC's to be built. Roads Minster Jim Fitzpatrick has said the DSA plan to book tests from 30th March 2009, and conduct the new tests from 27th April 2009.† Consultation with the DSA shows they want to actually start testing on 30th March.† If they do not start on time the EU will fine Britain for non-compliance with an EU directive.

MAG's position is as follows:

This will be a big campaign for MAG in the New Year so watch this space for more updates.

So, what can you do at this time ?

Well, Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion has asked MPs to support his view than no leaner should travel more than 20 miles or 45 minutes to a test centre.† We would like you to ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion 2537 Ė Motorcycle Testing Centres:

That this House believes that the ability to arrange a motorcycle test at a convenient and accessible location is essential to the development of safe riding; notes that the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is developing new off-road multi-purpose test centres to comply with European Union legislation; expresses concern that despite the DSA's statement that no learner should be further than 20 miles or 45 minutes from a Multi-Purpose Test Centre that there will be no facilities in Mid Wales, and the residents of Ceredigion will be forced to travel to Haverfordwest or Shrewsbury which for many means further than the stated minimum; further expresses concern that inexperienced learner riders will be expected to travel long distances, potentially in poor weather conditions; and calls on the Government to ensure that safe and convenient testing is available to all learner riders.

Details of your MP can be found on the Local MAG page of this Website.

6) MAG Policy Statements

The following list are the main policy statement headings that MAG has been working with:

What the MAG National Committee want to hear from local members, via their local and regional reps, is what you think are the priorities and what you think our position on each of those priorities should be.† This is a great opportunity, at the grass roots level, to help formulate MAG's policy and future areas for campaigning activity.

Email any comments to the branch email account and i'll forward them on, or better still, come down to a meeting and deliver them in person.

7) 2009 Event Dates

Our 2009 schedule of events has just been published on the Wakefield MAG web site, and includes all our monthly rideouts (from February through to November), all the major MAG rallies we will be attending, together with a number of our unmissable annual events (Post Christmas Auction, Treasure Hunt, Biker Quiz Nite etc). Of course, many many more events and activities will be added throughout the year, so keep checking the newsletters and the events page on the web site for the latest updates.

We should also have MAG rally tickets for sale at the branch meetings within the next couple of months.

8) Website updates

More new content updates have been made to our branch website over the last month, in addition to the 2009 event dates. The links page has been massively expanded to include virtually everything bike related you'll ever want to find (but if the link to your favourite bike related site isn't there, just let me know and i'll add it).

Also newly added is a Triumph Speed Triple self build project in the My Bike section.

If anyone would like to submit an article detailing their bike, or a particularly memorable biking adventure, send in a report and photos, and we'll publish it on the branch website.

9) Forthcoming Events

Forthcoming events for January and beyond:

Saturday 10th January - East Yorkshire MAG's Blow Away Your Christmas Blues Party

FREE Party, featuring, all the way from Richmond N. Y: 'The Spirit Levellers'. The Party starts at 8pm at the Sun Inn, Flemingate, Beverley, and will go on to about 1am. The party has a purpose and that is for us all to have a great time (obviously), but also as a fund raiser to raise funds for childhood cancer research (via donations and raffle / tombola).

Lots of places to stay locally overnight so give me a shout if you want the details. A good few of us from Wakefield will be attending so hope you can make it also. Did I mention it was FREE ?

Wednesday 14th January - Wakefield MAG AGM

As detailed above.

Wednesday 28th January - Wakefield MAG 5th Post Christmas Auction

As detailed above.

February - Fred Hill Run

This year we will again be participating in a Fred Hill run (Exact Date, Time & Place T.B.C. but likely to be the first weekend in February). We will once again join Leeds MAG to commemorate the life of the veteran helmet campaigner Fred Hill, and if it is anything like last year, it will be a thoroughly well attended event. The Fred Hill run will be our first ride out of the year and is a great excuse to get the bike out. I'll get the finalised details to you shortly, so keep checking your email and the Wakefield MAG web site for further updates.

Saturday 4th April - MAG Annual General Conference

MAG's 2009 AGC is being hosted in Darlington. We will likely organise a ride-out to attend en-masse (exact details TBC). Part of the AGC is the awards presentation, in various categories, but always given to those MAG members who have 'gone the extra mile'. If anyone has any nominations for a MAG award, let me know and i'll pass them on (nominations will need to be made by February 2009).

That's all for this month, hope 2009 turns out to be a great biking year, and I hope to see you all soon.

Ride Safe
Steve Travis
Chairman
Wakefield MAG
0772 078 4734

Wakefield MAG meet at the Grey Horse, Kirkgate, Wakefield at 8:30pm every Wednesday. New (and Old) faces are always welcome.