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DfT allocates £200m to walking and cycling but questions raised over cuts

Deniz Huseyin
24 May 2023
Sarah Mitchell: If the Government is serious about achieving its own goals for increasing cycling and walking levels it will have to give councils the opportunity to apply for substantially more funding which is committed over the longer term
Sarah Mitchell: If the Government is serious about achieving its own goals for increasing cycling and walking levels it will have to give councils the opportunity to apply for substantially more funding which is committed over the longer term
 

The Government has announced the winners of £200m funding for cycling and walking schemes. The investment, announced in February, will deliver more than 265 schemes in 60 areas across England, including 121 miles of new cycle track, 77 miles of new paths and greenways, ‘Mini Holland’ schemes and initiatives to make streets safer around 130 schools, said the DfT.

The largest award went to Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which will get nearly £24m.

DfT pointed out that no money will go to Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes. Instead, funding has been awarded to projects that “provide people with attractive choices to use cycling and walking for local journeys. Councils have worked closely with “local people to ensure the schemes benefit the community as a whole”, said the DfT.

Sustrans welcomed the announcement, but stressed that the £200m is the allocation of funding for the previous 2022/23 financial year.

It pointed out that active travel funding cuts were announced in a written ministerial statement on 9 March. “These cuts represent a two-thirds reduction of dedicated capital spending on active travel from £308m to £100m over two years,” said the walking, wheeling and cycling charity.

The cuts mean the Government’s own target of 50% of urban journeys being walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030 will be impossible, Sustrans argued.

“It’s good to see the Government commit funding to four ‘Mini Holland’ initiatives, which clearly show vision and ambition by the local authorities, but these can’t be a flash in the pan. There must be long term commitment to improving options for the way we get around.”

Cycling UK worked out how much the funding will mean for each region, which puts a “different spin on the winners and losers”, it said.

The charity revealed that Brighton & Hove Unity Authority tops the list, with £10.82 per head, followed by Suffolk County Council, with £10.43 per head. Near the bottom of the list, the £998,000 for Surrey County Council represents a mere 83p per head, Cycling UK reveals. Bottom of the list is Bracknall Forest Unitary Authority, which has been awarded £30,000 – 24p per head of its population.

Cycling UK chief executive's Sarah Mitchell told LTT: “While local authorities in England will undoubtedly have breathed a sigh of relief to have finally received last year’s funding for active travel, cycling and walking in England still faces a dramatic reduction in funding, unless the government reverses its cuts announced in March.

“Cycling UK understands councils are still to be invited to bid for future funding. If the Government is serious about achieving its own goals for increasing cycling and walking levels it will have to give councils the opportunity to apply for substantially more funding which is committed over the longer term.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We want to make sure everyone across the country can choose cheaper, greener and healthier travel while we continue to support our local businesses and grow the economy.

“This £200m investment will improve road safety, ease congestion and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of the millions of people choosing active travel.”

National Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman added: “By giving millions of people the freedom of choice to walk, wheel or cycle for everyday trips, this funding will help us improve public health, tackle climate change and give hundreds of thousands of children the independence to travel safely under their own steam.

“Now our focus is working with councils to get these schemes built swiftly. We’ll be working together to ensure the projects are well-designed and effective, so that they bring maximum benefits to communities and help improve lives nationwide.”

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Cycling and walking scheme allocations

Greater Manchester £23,719,500

Liverpool City region £14,400,000

West Midlands £12,608,201

North East Joint Transport Committee £7,203,211

Lancashire County Council £5,529,992

Essex £5,270,000

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 2 Combined Authority £3,896,590

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 2 Unitary Authority £3,780,000

South Yorkshire £2,430,943

Plymouth Unitary Authority £2,480,000

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