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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.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.