Suffolk agrees to form five year cycle plan but commitment for cash falls short
PUBLISHED: 15:19 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 22 July 2018
Proposals to form a task group to develop a dedicated plan of action for Suffolk’s cycle network have been agreed – but calls to commit funding were turned down.
Two motions were put forward by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group at Suffolk County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday.
The first called for a cross-party task group to be formed which would develop a fully-costed five year plan for Suffolk’s cycling network, a motion agreed unanimously.
But a second motion calling for 5% of the transport budget to be ringfenced for cycling infrastructure – the equivalent of around £160,000 this year – was voted down with 21 in favour and 38 against.
Green councillor Robert Lindsay who put forward the motions, said: “I’m obviously very disappointed with the way the Conservatives voted today. It makes absolutely no sense to agree to draw up a costed cycling plan, and then refuse to commit any funding to it.
“That is the reason Suffolk County Council’s funding bids always fail – the DfT simply don’t believe that we are truly committed to improving cycling in Suffolk.
“Other Conservative councils have understood the need to commit funding – Cheshire East just promised 8.5% of their budget to cycling. It is high time Suffolk Conservatives put their money where their mouth is. Just saying you support cycling is simply not good enough.”
The group pointed to six sustainable travel grants Suffolk was eligible for since 2011, all of which the county failed to secure.
Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance and assets urged his colleagues not to “tie his hands” by agreeing to commit 5% of the transport budget each year.
Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said: “I think it is entirely right that this chamber comes together to work on a policy development panel on cycling.
“I think it would really, really help us because we need to produce a costed five-year cycling plan.”
Ms Evans said that last year more than £200,000 was spent on the cycle path infrastructure.
The panel will be formed with members from all parties, although a timescale of completion has not been laid out.