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Cycling minister tells road.cc it's up to local councils to lift cycle funding above £1.39 per head per year...

The government’s cycling minister has reiterated to road.cc it’s up to local authorities to bring cycle funding up to £10 per head per year through a variety of funding schemes, after central government cycling investment is set to plummet to £1.39 per person per year from next month.

For local authorities wanting to reach £10 per head per year, the amount widely recognised as the minimum to begin building decent cycle infrastructure in the UK, the remaining £8.61 will have to be found by “scrabbling for scraps”, warns CTC, the national cycling charity. It says without government leadership cash strapped local councils are unlikely to prioritise cycling.

When asked how much will be set aside to implement the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, referred to Highways England’s existing trunk road cycle proofing programme and “discretionary funding” that local authorities will have to bid for. He said he’s “very optimistic” local communities will decide to invest in cycling, insisting all the evidence suggests local councils understand cycling’s importance.  

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Goodwill, told road.cc: “You’ll be aware that the government’s agenda is all about devolving power to local government to local people, to Local Enterprise Partnerships, and so in many ways by devolving that decision making we’re giving them the responsibility to deliver cycling infrastructure.

“All the experience we have from local sustainable transport schemes, some of our other local-based projects, is that there is almost always an element of cycling in those, so I’m confident those decisions will be made to ensure that cycling is part of their delivery”.  

He added, however, “You can’t devolve power and then tell them what to do with the money”.

An announcement is due on the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in the spring. The Strategy requires that government sets aside funds to achieve set goals but the CTC says at the moment there is no evidence this will exceed £1.39 per year. 

Goodwill said the £1.39 figure cited by CTC, which includes the Highways England cycle proofing and Bikeability funds, was calculated with the assumption city regions and combined authorities decide not to invest in cycling.

He added: “All the evidence is that local decision makers understand the importance of cycling in the same way that central government understands the importance of cycling.”

He said local cycling champions and campaigners will keep local authorities “up to speed” if they don’t already understand the environmental, health and congestion-relieving benefits of cycling.

However Sam Jones, Campaigns Coordinator at CTC, said without leadership from government cash-strapped councils are unlikely to prioritise cycling.

"Both the Prime Minister and Cycle Minister have said they want to see funding for cycling at £10 per head. The reality is that after the £5.52 cycling has had per head for 2015/16, if you're not a Londoner you'll lose out, as funding plummets to £1.39 per head for cycling and walking,” he said.

"Saying local authorities can make up the remaining £8.61 by scrabbling for scraps through a variety of funding schemes which are open to other programmes beyond cycling and walking is not the answer. Such a message hardly demonstrates Governmental commitment or leadership. Without these, cash strapped local authorities are unfortunately not going to be prioritising cycle provision.

"We've seen the success of measures such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the Cycling City Ambition Grants - dedicated funding for sustainable travel works. That's why CTC believes Government should look to reallocate some of the £15bn road investment fund towards dedicated funding for cycling."