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County council accused of putting "embargo" on new schemes...

A row has broken out between Oxford's two local authorities, the city and county councils, over delays to plans to spend almost a million pounds allocated to cycling facilities in the city.

The Oxford Times reports that Oxford City Council had assigned £840,000 for cycling projects,to be spent by 2016. But the Oxford Mail revealed in July that only £15.000 had been spent.

City councillor John Tanner (Labour), the executive board member for cleaner, greener Oxford says that Oxfordshire County Council, the transport authority, is preventing cycling schemes from going ahead. The county council denies the accusation.

Cllr Tanner, who has asked local people to submit ideas for ways the money should be spent, said: "People are still writing in with their ideas and there is no lack of schemes being proposed but the county council is standing in the way and they are putting an embargo on any cycle schemes which is unfortunate.

“It is because the county council is consulting on a new transport strategy and they have said that until it is agreed they don’t want to waste money.

“But there are some schemes we can spend the money on and it is my hope that we will be able to do so.”

While the county council blocks other schemes, Tanner said, the city council will work on projects where it owns the land and does not need the county council's approval, such as in the city's parks.

The county council is working on a new infrastructure plan that is expected to be finished by March 2015.

Simon Hunt, chairman of cycling group Cyclox, said: “It is obviously not helpful for cycling if money that could be spent is being delayed because of a policy of waiting to see what the big picture is. This is really very silly and disadvantaging people who want to cycle.”

County council spokesman Dominic Llewellyn-Jones said: “The county council have placed no embargo on the city bringing forward any cycling infrastructure improvements.

“If the city want to come forward with cycling schemes we will gladly consider them but it is of course important to see how they would fit within our plans for the wider city.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.