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Budget 2011/12 disaster?? – Spokesworker 24.11.10

The Scottish draft budget announced on November 17 threatens cycling investment in Edinburgh and across Scotland – but the position is unclear and lobbying is vital …

The government highlights the fact that one line in the budget – Sustainable and Active Travel – rises from £21.2m this year (2010/11) to £25.1m in 2011/12.   That is good – but two points are less obvious…

  • Cycling investment comes from more than one budget line [see table on p7 of Spokes Bulletin 108].   Currently the second biggest source of cycling investment is CWSS – the Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets fund.  In the past, this was specified in the budget, but this year it is completely absent.   CWSS, £9m in 2010/11, is distributed to councils on the basis of their population, and for many is the basic or even the only investment that goes into cycling.  Many also use it as ‘match funding’ to attract additional outside money.  Edinburgh Council in the Committee Report on its Active Travel Action Plan said…
    Any withdrawal of the Scottish Government’s CWSS funding is likely to have serious implications for the potential to implement the ATAP. Targets, especially the ambitious cycling targets, are unlikely to be met in this scenario.”
  • The budget gives only top level figures, not complete detail.  For example, the Sustainable and Active Travel budget line mentioned above is not just for walking and cycilng.   Certainly, it is used for grants to Sustrans, Cycling Scotland, the Bike Station, and other active travel purposes.   But much of it (nearly half in 2010/11?) goes to low-carbon motor traffic, eco-buses, eco-driving, etc.   And it is rumoured that only £1m of its £4m budget increase will go to walking/cycling.

However – we understand that although CWSS was not mentioned in the budget it could still be reprieved – that will depend on discussions between the government and COSLA, the body representing all councils – and of course it will also depend on lobbying!!

If CWSS is retained – and at its present level – then overall the budget could be mildly positive for cycling investment – though other aspects of the budget will also affect the total up or down somewhat.   And of course, present cycling investment is far below the £10+ per head level needed to achieve the government’s CAPS target of 10% of all trips to be by bike by 2020.

If CWSS is scrapped – the result will be a true disaster for cycling investment in our local area – and in the whole of Scotland.   Some councils will invest zero in cycling (and thus will not be able to attract outside funds through match funding – a double whammy) whilst even the more advanced councils like Edinburgh will be badly hit – as quoted above, Edinburgh’s “ambitious cycling targets, are unlikely to be met in this scenario.”

This really matters!  The presence or absence of CWSS will make a huge difference to cycling investment next year.   In Edinburgh for example we could see a downgrade of the planned Quality Bike Corridor, we could see less money for the planned onstreet overnight secure bike storage pilot schemes, and for other elements of the Active Travel Action Plan.  In councils like West Lothian we might go from seeing a few new cycleroutes and bike racks this year to absolutely nothing next year.

You can help!!  – please do!! Read the full story in Spokesworker 24.11.10 then email your views to your MSPs and/or to the other decision-makers listed at the end of that article.

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Also in the new Spokesworker 24.11.10 – slides about Spokes, Edinburgh and London from the recent UK Cyclenation conference hosted by Spokes.

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