SW council urged to rethink cycle scheme funding axe

Statistics point to need for such schemes say Labour

by Mark Appleton   March 23, 2011  

road.cc news

A Bath and North East Somerset Council-funded cycle scheme will continue despite the loss of local government cash.

Council funding for the Somer Valley Wheels project - which aims to increase cycling in the Radstock area – runs out at the end of the current financial year. The project provides guided cycle rides and training and so far has helped around 200 people aged 15 to 72 to take up cycling

Faced with the loss of funding the project is seeking to change the way it is structured in order to guarantee its survival and carry on working with beginner cyclists.

Steve Revill, the scheme manager told road.cc: “The project is working to become a constituted group which can then become affiliated with the CTC in order to continue its work. Additionally, as an independent, voluntary group it will be able to apply for access to various funding streams in order to sustain itself.”

“Under the new structure we will be looking to attract a lot more volunteers to the project in order establish a group of trained ride leaders willing to take groups out for rides on a regular basis.”

Labour’s climate change spokeswoman Meg Hillier, meanwhile, is asking Bath & North East Somerset Council to reconsider its plans to discontinue funding for the project.

The Radstock Labour Party says the scheme deserves to be backed because it benefits the environment as well as individuals' health and well-being.

Mrs Hillier and the Radstock Labour Party have launched a petition against the cuts citing statistics that last year showed 16.5% of children entering infants schools in the council region were overweight, making them the heaviest children in the South West.

Mrs Hillier told the Somerset Guardian: "People are very annoyed about the loss and it is an interesting issue. Climate change means we have to look at being greener and healthier.

"The statistics underline the importance of the bike scheme because it doesn't take much to get children active. This scheme is for children over 15, but it is giving them good habits for a lifetime.

"In difficult times you have to deal with the here and now, but you also have to plan for the future. If we are harsh in the short-term we reap bad dividends in the future."