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Council puts cyclists' expenses on a par with motorists'

Cheshire West and Chester Council believes it is first in the country to allow cyclists 40p per mile

Councillors who cycle can claim 40p per mile expenses from Cheshire West and Chester Council as an incentive to leave their cars at home.

The council believes it is the first in the country to offer the preferential rate, and has also reduced the car mileage rage from 52p per mile to 40p to add to their motivation.

Council spokesman Ian Callister, told “It’s simply an initiative to try and persuade members to leave their cars at home for short journeys. We’re a new authority and we’re very well aware of all environmental issues. Not only are we increasing the allowance for our cycling councilors, but we’re also bringing the car allowance down.

“Chester has a great number of historic buildings that suffer from pollution and vibrations so it’s a double reason.”

According to a story in The Mirror, the TaxPayers’ Alliance objects to the move. Spokesman Matthew Elliott told the paper: "Riding a bike is free. If you aren't running up a bill you shouldn't be able to claim."

But Mr Callister says the organisation has failed to take into account the tax saving the reduction in the car mileage rate will give the council. He told “If you pay over 40p to motorists you pay tax on that so by reducing it we’re saving the local authority money.

He added the rate was set by an independent panel made up of people who are not members of the local authority. The new council came into existence on April 1 and the rates will be reviewed in a year’s time.

Meanwhile CWaC Conservative councillor Jean Houlbrook has invited fellow councillors to get on their bikes and join her on a tour of local streets to address the danger of potholes in the area.

Cllr Houlbrook wrote a letter inviting members, including Environment portfolio holder Cllr Neil Ritchie (Con, Broxton) and highways and transportation chief Richard Turley, to join her on a cycle ride around her Upton ward.

She told today: “I haven’t heard from anyone yet, whether anyone is taking me up on my challenge. Normally I’d leave it ten days and then remind them and say does anyone want to do this with me?

“When you’re cycling and realise just how many potholes there are (which you don’t notice in the car), you do realise how dangerous it is. It just seemed to me a really good way of highlighting the state of the roads and what a problem it is to cyclists. As an authority we’re encouraging sustainable modes of transport and healthy living and eating but you need to make it as easy as possible for people to do these things.”

“I’m very hopeful they’re going to take me up on it.”

She went on to commend the decision to pay 40p per mile to cycling councillors and said she was looking forward to the day they would pay the same rate for those who get around on foot.

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