The Shropshire Liberal Democrat group on Shropshire Council has submitted a motion to the next meeting of Shropshire Council calling on the council to express its concern over national funding cuts for walking and cycling. The group also wants the council to agree in principle allocating a dedicated budget for active travel from 2024.
Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North says:
“The time has never been better to provide infrastructure for active travel.
“Health budgets are stretched. Cycling and walking improves health.
“Shropshire Council’s budget is stretched. Active travel schemes are cheaper than new or improved roads and will deliver greater cost benefits.
“People’s budgets are stretched. Active travel to work is cheaper.
“It is disappointing that the government has cut back at a time when the whole country is working towards net zero by 2050, if not earlier.”
Rob Wilson, Shropshire Councillor for Copthorne, says:
“We are hoping that everyone in the council chamber on 30 March will approve this motion.
“The council has said that it wants a modal shift from cars to public transport and active travel.
“To see more people of all ages and abilities walking, wheeling and cycling, we need to enable them by providing safe and accessible routes for journeys to work, to the shops and to see friends.
“Shropshire Council is committed to helping tackle the climate emergency.
“The financial outlay for walking and cycling scheme is much smaller than needed for other road projects.
“It is time to use what funds we have for the greatest benefit for our communities and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.”
Motion from the Liberal Democrat group on active travel
On 9 March, Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced that overall active travel funding for the current parliamentary term is being reduced from £3.8 billion to £3 billion.
The active travel budget allocated in the October 2021 was £710m of which £480m is yet to be spent. The £100m budget over two years announced by Transport Secretary on 9 March represents a spending cut of £380m on the 2021 plans. This calls into question whether the government can achieve the ambitions of its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS2), which aims at promoting cycling and walking across the country. This cut makes it unlikely the government will achieve its target of 50% of all journeys in English towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030.
The benefits of active travel have been widely recognised:
- Climate change: Active travel promotes the objectives of the council and the government in meeting the net zero 2050 target.
- Health: Active travel is a low cost way to improve health, reducing the costs of poor health to the NHS.
- Value for money: Active travel schemes are more cost effective with cost .benefits ratios up to six time great than road schemes.
- Personal costs: Active travel reduces the costs of travel to work and other destinations.
The cut in national funding has implications for the council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), which is currently out for consultation. Implementation for any schemes that might be agreed under LCWIP is currently unfunded.
Given these priorities, we urge the council to make clear the importance of national funding for active travel and urge it to reverse the cuts announced on 9 March. We also urge it to allocate ringfenced local funding.
This council agrees:
- It confirms its commitment to supporting active travel and achieving a modal shift from cars to walking and cycling.
- To request the leader to follow the lead of the Mayor of the West Midlands and others in writing to ministers to express concerns about the cuts to active travel funding.
- To allocate a budget within its own resources for active travel from 2024/25.