£1m windfall could see Preston 'wheel' completed in 2012...

A cycle route that began around Preston in 2004 is set to be finished by 2012 after a £1m funding windfall.

The 21-mile Guild Wheel route has received a funding boost from Lancashire County Council, which put in the money from its capital budget after a project team was established to plug financial gaps.

While there is still a shortfall of £500,000, project chairman and former international cyclist Peter Ward is delighted that the route might now be completed in time for the city's Guild celebrations, held every 21 years.

He told the Lancashire Evening Post: "This is wonderful news and it's something the county has been working very hard on for some time. I am glad the county council leader, Geoff Driver, has been realising for some time that this is the biggest legacy we will leave after the Guild – not just for the people of Preston but everyone living around Preston."

Mr Ward said the contribution would be added to recent donations of £60,000 by the Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust and £20,000 from the Barton Grange garden centre.

He added: "We have already spent nearly £1m on two sections and we are sure that the Guild Wheel is going to be completed.

"It's a high quality route we are looking for and the county council money will go a long way for us."

It is hoped the completed route could incorporate park and ride schemes to encourage commuters to cycle to work.

Engineers are currently finishing off surface work on the section of Brockholes Wetland to Bolton Wood with a section in Cottam, from Merrytrees Lane to Woodplumpton Road, set to start soon.

Coun Keith Young, who speaks on highways matters for the county council, said: "Peter Ward knows that he has my support.

"We have provisionally put in a sum of around £1m into the capital budget.

"I hope that will be approved by the council in February.

"I personally think it's a very good idea which will provide a lasting memorial for the Guild year of 2012.

"I think it ticks all the right boxes as it is environmentally sustainable and will encourage people to be more healthy."