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New Conservative government could scrap Active Travel England, Boris Johnson’s transport advisor warns

Andrew Gilligan told a fringe event at the Tory conference that he fears Liz Truss could water down the government’s commitment to cycling and walking

Less than a week after a transport minister reaffirmed the new Conservative government’s commitment to active travel, Boris Johnson’s transport advisor Andrew Gilligan has warned that funding for cycling and walking schemes could be cut under Liz Truss – and even implied that Active Travel England, the government body launched in January and charged with driving up standards, may not “survive” the new “radical” administration.

Gilligan, dubbed the ‘penny-farthing Cummings’ by some in the media thanks to his role as cycling commissioner during Boris Johnson’s stint as the Mayor of London and later as Downing Street’s transport advisor under the former Prime Minister, was speaking at a fringe event at the Tory party conference in Birmingham earlier this week, Forbes’ transport writer Carlton Reid reports.

Describing the Johnson government’s “well thought through policy” regarding active travel, Gilligan – one of the key protagonists behind the creation of Active Travel England earlier this year – told the meeting: “We had a pretty substantial investment in buses and bikes. All the evidence shows that is the only thing that actually gets people out of their cars and onto buses and bikes.”

> Government appoints capital's fomer cycling czar Andrew Gilligan to Transport for London's board

However, active travel campaigners fear that the budget for the new government agency, headed by Chris Boardman, will be in the firing line as Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng makes a series of expected cuts to state spending later this month, in an attempt to balance the books following this week’s U-turn on scrapping the 45 percent tax rate for the highest earners.

“I really do hope it survives the arrival of a new government,” Gilligan said when asked about Active Travel England’s future. “But I'm hearing slightly worrying things that it might not.”

> Active travel to be “first choice for our daily journeys,” says minister

Last week Lucy Frazer, the MP for South East Cambridgeshire and a Department for Transport minister, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to cycling and walking in the first such announcement since Liz Truss became Prime Minister and appointed Anne-Marie Trevelyan as Secretary of State for Transport, with Baroness Vere of Norbiton taking on the responsibility for active travel.

“As set out in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, we want public transport and walking and cycling to be the natural first choice for our daily journeys,” Frazer said, in response to a written question from Labour MP Rachael Maskell.

“This shift has the potential to save significant amounts of carbon, improve air quality, and reduce noise and congestion – improving health and wellbeing for all. We are undertaking pilot projects which will explore new ways for how we can use our cars differently and less often.”

She continued: “For example, we have provided £92 million to fund local authorities in Solent Transport, Nottingham and Derby, West Midlands, and the West of England to become Future Transport Zones and pilot a range of innovative mode shift efforts, such as mobility as a service apps, or paying ‘mobility credits’ to people in return for giving up their cars.”

> Boris Johnson resignation: A blow for active travel?

Frazer reiterated the Truss government’s backing for active travel at Monday’s Policy Exchange meeting.

When asked by Chair Josh Buckland, a senior fellow at Policy Exchange, whether “cycling is still alive and kicking now that Boris Johnson’s administration has gone?”, the Tory MP replied: “Absolutely, yes. We set up Active Travel England [and we are] committed to its £2 billion in terms of active travel.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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43 comments

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

So here we go again, again. If you think it's time you got a vote in all this, head over to:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/619781

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

... and you'll get the same answer. Whoever has power, they're not going to vote to let go early or dilute it. Unless you're in a home nation and get independence from England good luck with getting more say about PMs too. That's Charlie's prerogative!

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David9694 | 1 year ago
1 like

if Liz Truss survives that long, I feel better about the GE 2024 - like (I) actually having it and (ii) the Tories being wiped off them map as some polls are suggesting. I give her until the spring. Problem is it will likely be the Johnston comeback. 

I can't remember a time where I worried about (I) above, but Johnson potentially had the swagger under the Cummings influence to try that - Rees-Mogg would start it off along the lines of "well look the majority of people don't want to be bothered with another election..." 

The other concerning thing is that White Van Man (remember him, "fella's got to earn a living", the grafter, etc) has in their eyes won the argument on the road priorities front - everything including VRUs, the environment, etc must be sacrificed to enable him to make way.  He should be allowed to speed, pavement park, use his phone, not have to adopt a safe system of work, etc for all these reasons. 

Brexit ushered all this in - Remain predicted it - hopefully, a this is a last roll of this particular dice before it is consigned to the dustbin of history and we rejoin the single market and customs union - you see, I like growth too - just not at any price. 

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RoryLydiate | 1 year ago
6 likes

Walking, Cycling.... Where's the profit?

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

This a real left wing, anti-growth coalition, brexit denying thread, echo chamber.

Although where your policies end up pissing off the RSPB then surely that is a trigger to consider if there just might be smidgen wrong somewhere.

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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
5 likes

hirsute wrote:

This a real left wing, anti-growth coalition, brexit denying thread, echo chamber.

Although where your policies end up pissing off the RSPB then surely that is a trigger to consider if there just might be smidgen wrong somewhere.

Well, it's not really anti-growth to be concerned about the trashing of sterling's value and increasing the cost of borrowing. Also, I always thought that growth would mean more money and opportunities for everyone, not so much just increasing the bank balances of the wealthy and increased austerity for everyone else.

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Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

Seems to me hp you are part of the Putin, dead queen, thanos anti growth coalition.

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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

hirsute wrote:

Seems to me hp you are part of the Putin, dead queen, thanos anti growth coalition.

Well, I'm no fan of Putin or the monarchy, dead or alive. Thanos had some interesting ideas with sustainability, but just randomly erasing half of the population seems a bit arbitrary - can we at least have some kind of test to determine worthiness such as does the person return their shopping trolleys?

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

Has hirsute been hacked or is this some new level of satire?

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
5 likes

Not exactly satire, just channelling our Supreme Leader

https://twitter.com/LabourDesign/status/1577633905733156865

Top Tip - don't use a blue screen as your conference background

https://pressgazette.co.uk/bbc-liz-truss-local-radio/

“Are you going to reverse what was announced in the mini-budget in order to at least make things better, now, for my listeners who are not sleeping at night?”

Truss said she did not accept the premise of the question, prompting Cookson to interject: “You’re going to have to accept it.”

Also https://newsthump.com/2022/10/05/putin-dead-queen-thanos-the-anti-growth...
But I thought you would have seen that one !

 

 

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brooksby replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

hirsute wrote:

Not exactly satire, just channelling our Supreme Leader

...

But I thought you would have seen that one !

I've been busy - clearly I took my eye off the ball...  <grovels>

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brooksby replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
6 likes

I did see this one, though:

Liz Truss to punish Vladimir Putin by running Russia’s economy for a week

https://newsthump.com/2022/09/30/liz-truss-to-punish-vladimir-putin-by-r...

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
5 likes

They are struggling to keep up with all the storylines available !
 

Cold War Steve on the money though

//pbs.twimg.com/media/FeYQPzVXoAAuhXb?format=jpg&name=small)

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eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter]</p>

<p>[quote=hirsute wrote:

I always thought that growth would mean more money and opportunities for everyone, not so much just increasing the bank balances of the wealthy and increased austerity for everyone else.

You misunderstood.  Thick Lizzie's growth is in poverty, hunger, disease and death; but never mind, we'll have more billionaires.

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ktache replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
3 likes

If being for growth means being for more raw sewage on beaches and in rivers then I must be against it.

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stomec replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
6 likes

hirsute wrote:

This a real left wing, anti-growth coalition, brexit denying thread, echo chamber.

Although where your policies end up pissing off the RSPB then surely that is a trigger to consider if there just might be smidgen wrong somewhere.

I agree!  Just like Joe Lycett I am a massive fan of Liz Truss.

She has an amazing growth agenda!

My mortage repayments are growing massively!

Bankers bonuses have grown!

Infation is on the up!

The amount of tax almost everyone pays is growing!

Labour support is skyrocketing!

Growth growth and more growth.  In Liz we Truss.

 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to stomec | 1 year ago
5 likes

stomec wrote:

I agree!  Just like Joe Lycett I am a massive fan of Liz Truss.

She has an amazing growth agenda!

My mortage repayments are growing massively!

Bankers bonuses have grown!

Infation is on the up!

The amount of tax almost everyone pays is growing!

Labour support is skyrocketing!

Growth growth and more growth.  In Liz we Truss.

How about growth of toxic air pollution in unborn babies? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/05/toxic-air-pollution-particles-found-in-lungs-and-brains-of-unborn-babies

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Hirsute replied to stomec | 1 year ago
6 likes

Get the T-Shirt

 

//9g98zdqu642ofp6e45igu1xt-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/anti-growth-coalition-Assemble-Close-up-510x598.jpg)

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
4 likes

Late to the party but is this the lycrist infiltrators meeting, or a different one with similar members?

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Pub bike | 1 year ago
9 likes

Watering down already heavy diluted investment in active travel is getting to be like homeopathy.

Liz Truss wants growth growth growth so presumably she wants there to be 37 million registered cars on the roads by the end of this parliament, when the 33 million currently are all jammed up.

Moronic.

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hawkinspeter replied to Pub bike | 1 year ago
5 likes

Pub bike wrote:

Watering down already heavy diluted investment in active travel is getting to be like homeopathy.

Liz Truss wants growth growth growth so presumably she wants there to be 37 million registered cars on the roads by the end of this parliament, when the 33 million currently are all jammed up.

Moronic.

It'll be fine as she'll remove all corners and junctions. The Iron Weathervane's not for turning!

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Pub bike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

I don't think removing junctions will get past the anti-cycling lobby as then motorists will be denied their daily left hook manoeuvres.

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chrisonabike replied to Pub bike | 1 year ago
2 likes

What about turning the entire road network into a recursion of roundabouts? That allows you to keep turning but regularly cover all directions. Plus it'll keep motorists safer (than some other junction types), slightly slower (green win!) and facilitate the continued Sorry Didn't See the cyclist.

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TheBillder replied to Pub bike | 1 year ago
3 likes
Pub bike wrote:

Watering down already heavy diluted investment in active travel is getting to be like homeopathy.

That's an amazing way of putting it, and I intend to steal that phrase shamelessly. Thank you.

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Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
7 likes

Point of clarification - Since Gilligan is closely aligned with the Boris faction of the Tories he has no reason to say anything positive about the Truss faction.

Thats not to say Truss hasnt found another option to f*ck the country right up of course.....

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Awavey replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
3 likes

exactly and all GIlligan has really said is funding might be cut back, well news flash all government funding might be cut back, apart from defence & health, Carlton Reids article describes only a "radical" Truss government as being the ones who would nix Active Travel England, theres been nothing in the governments recent announcements that suggests  we are anything near a "radical" government.

its more ironic that when Johnson announced the funding all the same commentariat complaining now, said it wasnt large enough and wouldnt do anything, yet as soon as someone suggests taking away its the biggest outrage since the last twitter outbreak

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morgoth985 replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

Still, you could see it happening.

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Rich_cb | 1 year ago
5 likes

https://road.cc/content/blog/boris-johnson-resignation-blow-active-trave...

The answer to this question is becoming clearer by the day.

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
6 likes

They want to spunk £Bns on major roads programmes and accelerate those, so raiding the active travel budget is clearly an option where you are already commited to excess borrowing.

There is not a lot of joined up thinking between the different departments, say health and the need for active travel. 

Pretty sure the rantyhighwayman (A highway engineer's adventures in time & space. ) tweeted he didn't think it was possible to accelerate the pace of road building due to a lack of resource to carry out all aspects of the schemes.

 

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eburtthebike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

hirsute wrote:

There is not a lot of joined up thinking between the different departments, say health and the need for active travel.

Has there ever been a time that there was?  And the media doesn't help.

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