As you know, there was a debate in the House on 9th July regarding the Government’s active travel plans and details of the debate are available here
I was pleased to see the Minister being so positive about the benefits of active travel and the particular benefits of cycling.
The Cycling and Walking Investment strategy is a statutory scheme and the benefit of this is that it provides a much longer-term focus on the steps which need to be taken to promote cycling further. It is vital that local authorities devise local plans which ensure that the needs of cyclists are met and that infrastructure improvements are delivered if the strategy of making cycling and walking the natural choice for many, particularly shorter, journeys by 2040 and the aim of doubling cycling activity within five or six years, by 2025 can be met.
The Minister outlined the range of funding streams which are available to local authorities to make the investments which are needed and as the Minister said during the debate, spending during the current Spending Review doubled per head and it is vital that this progress does not stall.
Our local authorities have been effective in making the case for funding to ensure that cycling infrastructure continues to improve and that must continue. Decisions about how to deliver local improvements are best made locally and the funding from central government must be available to ensure that the best possible decisions can be taken locally about how we build on the progress made to date.
The Minister confirmed that when the cycling and walking investment strategy was published in 2017, it identified £1.2 billion of funding projected for investment in cycling and walking between 2016 and 2021. Since then, local authorities have added their part and allocated an additional £700 million to safe infrastructure and other active travel projects. Between central Government and local government, almost £2 billion being invested in cycling and walking over this Parliament.
The Government’s next Comprehensive Spending Review is underway at present. The Review is undertaken periodically to review the funding available to each department and the recent debate was certainly well-timed as it has served to reinforce not only the need for ambitious plans to enhance and support cycling, walking and horse riding but also the funding to ensure that those plans can be delivered. The outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review will be known in the coming months and I will be watching the outcome closely to ensure that progress on both funding and local delivery continue to be made