Last week, Suffolk County Council unanimously agreed to draw up a five-year costed cycling plan – but refused to commit any funding. Here, Cllr Robert Lindsay explains why this minimal budget commitment was so vital.
The last time Suffolk won any funding from the Department for Transport for sustainable travel (cycling and walking) was in 2011. Since then, Suffolk has missed out on five separate funding rounds – and it seems clear that our inability to commit any of our own money to cycling initiatives is hindering our chances of bringing in money from elsewhere.
The details of the funding rounds we have missed, and the ones that our neighbour Norfolk won, are listed below:
- 2013 Cycle City Ambition Grants – Ipswich eligible to apply. Missed. Norwich won 12.15m;
- 2015-16 Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Missed;
- 2016-17 Sustainable Travel Transition Year. Missed. Norfolk won £0.4m;
- Jan 2017 – 3 years funding for Cycling and Walking to Work, £64m available. Missed. Norfolk won £1.488m;
- Jan 2018 – Technical support for Cycling and Walking Plan. Missed. Norfolk received technical support for their plan.
A new round for support for Cycling and Walking Plan is expected soon. Without any resources committed, Sustrans (UK Sustainable Transport Charity) have stated that Suffolk is likely to miss that one too.
Norfolk, on the other hand, were successful in these funding rounds – in fact, they received funding totalling £13m which in turn allowed allowed them to draw in millions more from other sources. Norfolk County Council now has a Cycling and Walking Strategy. It is 64 pages long. It includes maps of the key routes across the county. It has a list of quantified targets. This is exactly what Suffolk should be aiming for.
Our motion last week, to draw up a costed five-year cycling plan, was a step in the right direction. But without some of our own money committed, we’re really going to struggle to persuade the DfT that we truly want to improve cycling in Suffolk.