Cycle city funding reduced following budget review

June 10 2015  

Cycle city funding reduced following budget review
Savings of £545M have been identified by the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of £4.5Bn of measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne to bring down public debt.
 
The savings are being made principally by bringing forward the sale of shares in land around King’s Cross worth £345M, and by a £124M reduction in the DfT’s contingency budget.
 
£23M of underspend return has also been achieved from the Cycle Cities Ambition Programme, for which £214M of funding was announced in November. Eight cities were named as eligible to bid for £114M from this pot to accelerate development of their local cycling networks and increase protection for cyclists at junctions and traffic hot spots.
 
Among the eight cities was Birmingham. City Council cabinet member for sustainability Lisa Trickett said: “These latest budget cuts announced by central Government are a U-turn that will put our efforts to deliver sustainable integrated transport at serious risk.
 
“It also sends out a message that those in charge of funding for sustainable transport at a national level have no regard for the wider social benefits of cycling,” she added.
 
But a spokesperson for Bristol City Council – one of the other cities eligible for the grant – said: “We are continuing to develop our city’s cycling infrastructure and this will be unaffected by the Chancellor’s announcements.”
 
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson added: “We have received reassurance from central Government that our allocated grant will be honoured as promised.”
 
However Cambridge City Council executive councillor for planning policy and transport Kevin Blencowe said: “We had envisaged a long-term commitment to help us with our cycling projects, but this is likely to hamper that.”
 
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans’ policy director Jason Torrance said: “The reduction in cycle city funding indicates a need for more long term investment in walking and cycling. The money could have been much better used as part of a five or 10 year national strategy.”
 
Transport planning consultant Phil Jones Associates’ managing director Phil Jones said: “The stop-start nature of investment in cycling has made it difficult for local authorities to build up a team to deliver cycling projects.
 
“What we need is increased certainty that the funds for cycling are there, in the same way that Highways England has on the strategic road network,” he added.
 
Among the other savings identified by the DfT are a £31M funding reduction for Transport for London, £16M of underspend return from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund and £1M of expected underspend from a tram project in Sheffield.
 
♦ Calls for UK cites to make encouraging walking and cycling a top priority have been called for by experts at an ‘Active Cities Summit’ in Bristol this week, following research which shows that active travel can boost economic output.
 
A study by Active Living Research at the University of California reveals that cities with physically active populations are more economically productive and benefit from improved health and wellbeing.
 
(Photo: Geraint Rowland)

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