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Scottish draft budget 2010-11: a step forward!

We are one step closer to more realistic cycling investment, thanks to the Parliament’s all-party Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee [TICC].   Last year Scottish Government Ministers ignored their recommendations.  Your emails to MSPs are vital right now to stop the same happening this year.

The Committee’s report on the draft budget has just been published.   Some of the most interesting sentences are at the end of this article.   If you’ve time to read the full details, here are the paragraphs dealing with government investment in cycling and walking.   Or, if you really want to read the entire report, here is a link to the full TICC Report on the Scottish Government€™s Draft Budget 2010-11.

In summary, the Committee for the 3rd year running expresses its (ever stronger) concern over Scottish Government funding for active travel, which has been static or even declining.  [Spokes note – during the same period, between 2008-09 and 2010-11 budgets, there has been a £233m increase in trunk road allocations].

The Committee points out the contradiction between on the one hand the low and declining levels of funding and on the other the government’s ambitious target for 10% of journeys to be by bike in 2020.  It also points out the contradiction with the aims and targets of the even more ambitious Climate Change Act Scotland 2009.

The Committee clearly feels that urgent action is needed, and it makes this crucial recommendation….

“that the Scottish Government should conduct an exercise to establish what scope exists across the transport budget for reallocating resources in order to reverse the incremental decline in the active travel line. It further recommends that this exercise is conducted prior to the debate on the Finance Committee€™s report on the draft budget and that the results are submitted to both committees.€

The full Parliament is debating the budget shortly (probably 17 December) and the Committee is asking that before that date the government urgently looks at the transport section of the budget and tries to reallocate some funding to cycling/walking investment.   Given that cycling investment totals well under £20m, whereas the entire transport budget is around £2500m (of which nearly half is trunk roads) a modest reallocation must surely be possible!  [The Spokes budget submission – which is complimented in the TICC report – suggests a new £20m cycle projects fund, in addition to existing funding sources].

Although TICC has recommended this exercise to look into reallocating some funding, the SNP ministers [going on their past record] will ignore the recommendation unless they come under pressure.   Spokes has already written to a number of influential MSPs about this [click for our two main letters] but we have far less voice than a lot of individuals writing to their own MSPs – they depend on you to vote for them, so they want to keep you onside! So you really can help…

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please contact your MSPs urgently – you have 1 constituency MSP and 7 regional ones – you can contact them all using www.writetothem.com.

a. Tell them why more cycling investment matters to you.

b. Tell them how pleased you are that the Parliament’s Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee has recommended in their report on the draft budget 2010-11 that there should be an immediate investigation into a reallocation of funding within the transport budget, and have recommended that this should happen now, so that the results are known for the December budget debate.

c. Ask them to take this up urgently within their party and with Ministers, to ensure that this investigation exercise does happen.

d. Ask them to let you know what they have done, and what is the outcome.

Thank you!!

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SOME SENTENCES FROM THE TICC REPORT ON THE DRAFT BUDGET (the bold type is our emphasis)

  • €œThe treatment of active travel in the draft budget once again gives the Committee cause for concern.

  • The fact that proposed spend in this area is declining at a time when one of the stated objectives of the Scottish Government is to achieve a ten-fold increase in cycling journeys, appears to the Committee to be contradictory.

  • The greenhouse gas emissions reductions required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 represent a hugely significant challenge for the Scottish Government. The Committee is of the view that if the Scottish Government is to be perceived as taking seriously the need to encourage modal shift to more sustainable transport modes to reduce emissions from transport, it must begin to make more practical moves towards doing so.

  • It considers that if significant progress is to be made, new methods of delivering funding need to be developed, perhaps in the direction being argued by Spokes in its well argued submission to the Committee.

  • It is of the view that the decline in the funding of sustainable transport and active travel line needs to be not only reversed, but significantly increased.

  • The Committee therefore recommends that the Scottish Government should conduct an exercise to establish what scope exists across the transport budget for reallocating resources in order to reverse the incremental decline in the active travel line. It further recommends that this exercise is conducted prior to the debate on the Finance Committee€™s report on the draft budget and that the results are submitted to both committees.€

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MORE EVIDENCE

The Sustainable Development Commission Scotland is the official independent advisory body on sustainable development to the Scottish Government.

It said in its First Assessment that in Scotland €œTransport is the poorest performing area for sustainable development€ and, within that badly performing area, €œactive travel is in relative decline.€

Their Third Assessment, published only last week, states that the government’s 2020 target for 10% of journeys to be by bike €œis welcome but requires significant investment in high quality, safe and attractive€ cycling infrastructure. It says that €œa significant reallocation of transport funds€ is required. It identifies €œa gap between the Scottish Government’s aims and its financial commitments.€

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MORE INFORMATION…

There’s a further article about the budget in Spokesworker 5.12.09 – including more on the Sustainable Development Commission evidence and also some very valuable comments on the need for cycling investment from the industry-based UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security.

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