'No ambition or innovation': North Yorkshire council faces more criticism over bid for government cycling cash

North Yorkshire County Council has drawn sharp criticism from campaigners after it only secured half of the government money it bid for to support cycling and walking in the county.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 2:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 2:27 pm

The authority has been awarded £133,000 from the first round of the Department for Transport's active travel fund - half of the £266,000 it was being offered.

It comes after Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said the council would take "full advantage" of the funding to "make small but effective improvements", such as widened pavements and cycle-only corridors.

The council has secured 133,000to get more people cycling and walking - half of the 266,000 that was up for grabs.

But unlike some authorities, the county council has yet to reveal its plans in full despite requests.

It has angered members of Harrogate District Cycle Action whose chairman Kevin Douglas said the proposals must have not been ambitious enough to only secure half of the money.

"We are disappointed and still don't know what the council's plan consists of", he said, "and we can only suspect there has been a lack of ambition and innovation for it to have not appealed to the government.

"The council has talked about doing a lot of things for years, but nothing has been delivered and they give us all the excuses in the world."

The county council itself said it was "disappointed" with the first round of funding and is now preparing a bid for the second phase, when a larger sum of around £1.1million will be made available for long term projects.

Mr Douglas, who called on the council to act quickly as cycling saw a surge in popularity during lockdown, added: "It is going to be very interesting to see how it goes in the second round.

"There is a real opportunity here and if the council misses it, it will be the same again with people returning to their cars as lockdown is lifted.

"The council needs to consult with the people who actually ride their bikes and walk - that should strengthen their case."

The council says it is committed to active and sustainable travel transport.

Separately, the authority has submitted a bid to the government for £3.3milllion to upgrade town centre footways.

Talks are also being held with Transport for the North and central government over a potential £75million package of improvements to cycling and walking facilities in Harrogate, Scarborough and Selby.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

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