October 2009

Is the Government serious?

On 29 Oct Spokes leafletted 200 delegates (including main speaker, Cabinet Secretary John Swinney MSP, and many decision-makers from around Scotland) as they arrived at the SSN annual Sustainability conference at Dynamic Earth.

Our SSN conference handout summarises the arguments why cycle funding needs drastically increased in this year’s government budget, and has lots of useful quotes.  Please use some of these arguments/ quotes when writing to your MSP about the budget [see Oct 24 news item for more on the budget and writing to your MSPs].

One of our members was also a delegate at the conference, and was able to ask the Minister about cycle funding in the Q/A session after his speech.  The question pointed out that the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre, SPICe, has used Spokes research to give the total for all Scottish Cycling investment from all main sources, around £20m or less [see Aug 4 news item].  Therefore in his answer Mr Swinney could not and did not deny (as he had implied previously) that Scottish cycling investment is equivalent to less than 1% of the total £2.5bn transport budget.   In fact, his answer was mainly that the government is spending a lot on another area of sustainable transport – then he talked for some time about railway investment (where they are doing quite a good job) – thereby virtually admitting that he had nothing to say on cycling investment – the question which had been asked!  Nor did he comment on another point raised in the question – the comparison between the £20m total cycling investment and the huge £233m increase in funding he has found for trunk roads compared to 2008/09 [see Oct 24 news item] .

This suggests the Scottish government doesn’t have a leg to stand on to justify its miserable levels of cycling investment, when it has set a target of 10% of journeys to be by bike by 2020.   So use our new handout to lobby your MSPs now that the discussions for budget 2010/11 are underway!!

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