Staying local: will be different in different areas – Kit Malthouse MP

Boris Johnson’s 7 mile cycle ride to the Olympic Park on Sunday has provoked much comment on just what is meant by “staying local”. His ride came after two women were stopped and initially fined for travelling five miles to take a walk (with two takeaway coffees, judged to be a picnic) in Derbyshire. (These charges have since been dropped).

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, policing minister Kit Malthouse MP wanted to clear things up. He insisted people must not “stretch the rules” but went on to say that whether seven miles was local “depends on where you are.”

“Seven miles will be local in different areas;’ he added. [Too true, see below – Owl]

Obvious parallels have been drawn with Dominic Cumming’s trip to Barnard Castle and another example of those in authority stretching the rules made for others to follow.

Not all take this view apparently. Linking to a story about the incident from the Guardian, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable called the report “unbelievably petty” and went as far as to ask what the publication “had against cycling” . [Owl stripped Vince of his “sainthood” for being the architect of “Local Enterprise Partnerships”, despite the fact that in 2014 he admitted: “I’m not sure we’ve got it right…”]

However, for Marina Hyde it is not far enough:

“It’s much too close. Ideally, I would like him to be one ocean, two deserts and seven miles (of solid lead) away from any seat of power.”

Finally, Owl rehearses the “staying local” argument as it applies to residents of Newton Poppleford.

Readers may recall they have been assigned by the Clinical Commissioning Group to the Ottery St Mary practice. As the crow flies the two are only about 3½ miles apart (but you wouldn’t want to walk the busy narrow lanes, let alone take a child in a pushchair).

There is no direct bus route, patients have to travel into Exeter and out again, a distance of around 23 miles, standard return adult plus child is £23.50, with a round trip time of 2hrs 30 mins plus connection time (pre-Covid,  2019 schedules and prices). There is a surgery in Sidmouth on a direct route with journey time of 5 mins but it is closed to Newton Popp. residents.