The new Future Transport Fund, announced in the draft budget, was fleshed out somewhat today by Transport Minister Keith Brown – but does not redress the Scottish Government’s drastic cuts to active travel investment.
Indeed Damien Henderson, transport correspondent at The Herald, tweeted “Naked spin from Scot Gov today as it re-announces £50m from draft Budget for Future Transport Fund after brutal cuts to active travel.”
An excellent press release from Transform Scotland and FOE Scotland accused the Scottish Government of ‘smoke and mirrors.’
In our own press release Spokes commented…
“After today’s announcement the SNP manifesto promise to ‘increase the proportion of transport spending on … active and sustainable travel‘ remains in tatters as far as active travel is concerned. Spokes calculates that, far from being increased, this proportion will be cut from 1.21% in 10-11 to 1.03% in 11-12, 0.70% in 12-13 and 0.63% in 13-14, roughly half its previous level.” [detailed calculations – pdf 157k]
The new Future Transport Fund (£3.25m in 12/13, £7.75m in 13/14 and more in later years) is to cover far more than just active travel – for example, freight facility grants and green bus funding, both of which were formerly funded from other parts of the transport budget. There are indications that as these and other worthy ‘relatively big spenders’ ramp up their projects, the amount of FTF allocated to active travel will remain low, probably £1.5m in 12/13 and just £1.25m in 13/14).
Meanwhile the other main elements of the budget which fund active travel, SAT and CWSS, are being chopped by far greater amounts than the new FTF addition [see table in our detailed calculations].
SAT in particular (which, like FTF, covers a multitude of tasks) contributed £11.5m to active travel in 10/11 and £9m in 11/12, but this looks likely to be chopped to at very best around £3.5m in 12/13 and for several years after that. A letter to MSPs from Infrastructure Cabinet Member Alex Neil MSP [and his Annex A] attempting to explain these cuts was singularly unimpressive [see Appendix B to our detailed calculations document].
A further element of cycling investment is from the trunk roads budget – although paths beside trunk roads are often more for holidays than for the everyday trips needed to meet government targets. However, although the trunk roads budget rises by a huge £100m in 12/13, we don’t expect its cycling element to rise because most of the £100m goes towards the ‘replacement Forth Crossing’ – which does not include a path for cycling and walking [see article in Spokesworker 6.1.12].
MSPs CALL FOR A CLEAR ACTIVE TRAVEL BUDGET LINE
It is tempting to ask why cycling/walking investment is buried deep in both FTF and SAT (and CWSS) rather than having one clearcut active travel budget heading. It’s certainly an excellent way for government to confuse and hide what is happening, and re-interpret their manifesto (surely that’s not their intention!) Spokes made this point in our original budget submission – and the Parliamentary All-Party Committee on Infrastructure and Capital Investment adopted that recommendation – though whether Ministers will implement it remains to be seen.