Councils which rip out cycle lanes or low-traffic neighbourhoods earlier than giving them an opportunity to work or with out proof they’re failing might lose future central authorities funding, ministers have warned.
In an indication of the rising frustration inside authorities at some councils, each Conservative and Labour, which have eliminated lively journey schemes within the face of generally noisy objections, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris is formally writing to the leaders of all English native authorities with transport tasks.
In separate feedback, Boris Johnson warned councils that he was critical about boosting lively journey, saying that “making an attempt to squeeze extra vehicles and supply vans on the identical roads and hoping for the most effective shouldn’t be going to work”.
“I help councils, of all events, which are attempting to advertise biking and bus use,” the prime minister stated. “And if you will oppose these schemes, you should inform us what your various is.”
Heaton-Harris’s letter, being despatched on Friday, warns councils that if schemes put in utilizing central authorities cash, corresponding to funds offered to spice up strolling and biking throughout Covid, are then rapidly deserted, this might have an effect on future grants.
“Untimely removing of schemes carries implications for the administration of the general public cash utilized in these schemes and for the federal government’s future funding relationship with the authorities accountable,” wrote Heaton-Harris.
“The division will proceed to evaluate authorities’ efficiency in delivering schemes and, following the precedent we now have already set, these which have prematurely eliminated or weakened such schemes ought to count on to obtain a lowered stage of funding.”
Below the federal government’s emergency lively journey fund, councils put in a whole bunch of cycle lanes, college streets and low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which search to filter residential streets in opposition to through-traffic by motor autos.
Nevertheless, amid typically noisy objections from some residents, plus repeatedly destructive media protection of such interventions, a collection of councils have eliminated schemes at quick discover.
Conservative-run West Sussex council has already been instructed it can’t apply for the following section of lively journey funding after it eliminated a cycle lane in Shoreham-by-Sea. Related lanes have been taken out by Labour-led Liverpool council, and by an alliance of Labour and Tory members in Brighton.
Some councils have additionally eliminated LTNs, such as Ealing in west London, though the funding for this got here from Transport for London somewhat than central authorities.
Within the letter, Heaton-Harris warns council leaders to ensure any selections are made on the idea of proof: “We have now no real interest in requiring councils to maintain schemes that are confirmed to not work, however that proof should be introduced. Schemes should not be eliminated prematurely, or with out correct proof and too quickly to gather correct proof about their results.”
It comes as newly launched government-commissioned polling confirmed obvious robust public help for LTNs, and for wider site visitors discount measures.
The analysis, carried out in Birmingham, Ipswich, Bournemouth and Salford, confirmed 61% of individuals supported their native LTN, together with 58% of enterprise house owners and 49% of these with mobility challenges.
Extra typically, 79% of individuals backed the discount of site visitors of their native space, with 71% help for respondents with mobility challenges.
In his feedback, Johnson immediately tackled the cost from opponents of LTNs and comparable schemes that they merely transfer site visitors to different roads, saying: “In fact some journeys by automotive are important, however site visitors shouldn’t be a power of nature. It’s a product of individuals’s selections. In case you make it simpler and safer to stroll and cycle, extra individuals select to stroll and cycle as a substitute of driving, and the site visitors falls general.”
The letter and Johnson’s assertion emphasise the obvious coverage distinction divide over lively journey between some councils and the extra optimistic view inside Downing Road and the Division for Transport.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns for Biking UK, stated the organisation had been arguing for months that councils ought to give schemes sufficient time to work.
He stated: “It’s tragic that the Division for Transport has needed to problem revised steerage to strengthen this apparent level, and councils in Liverpool, Brighton and elsewhere, who’ve determined in current days to take away cycle lanes with out correct analysis, must urgently evaluation these plans.”