February 2016

Budget blow to walk & cycle

With no changes in the finalised budget, the Scottish Government has set the ground for a retreat on walking and cycling by Councils across the country…

We are likely to see retreats on…
Pothole Repairp6 POTHOLES

The 7% cuts to Councils’ revenue funding (apart from social care) will impact seriously on potholes, as this extract from forthcoming Spokes Bulletin 124 shows…

Council staff to develop and implement cycling projects

The same 7% cut means big cuts to council staff across Scotland – from which transport cannot escape.  With a 2000 staff cut in Edinburgh there are rumours that the Council’s carefully built-up expert cycle team could suffer, delaying or putting at risk implementation of major cycleroute plans and of the many regular small but staff-intensive improvements such as dropped kerbs, signing, and the traffic orders often needed to enable cycling in one-way streets.

Cash for cycling projects

Despite literally hundreds of emails to the Finance Secretary, many contacts with MSPs, support from the Cross-Party Parliament Cycling Group, and wide support from experts, funding for active travel remains unchanged in the final budget – and, as we have repeatedly pointed out, the way the cash is structured is likely to mean less cycling investment this year in the great majority of councils.

Even our politically realistic proposal to transfer a mere 1% of the government’s ever-increasing £820m trunk roads budget to active travel was  a step too far – though councils are expected to cut revenue budgets for purposes such as transport by 7%.

Budget reaction
  • Speaking in and before the budget debate, two MSPs raised active travel and unsustainable transport policies…  Patrick Harvie [Green MSP] and Cara Hilton [Labour MSP] [apologies, our tweet should say 20, not 40]
  • Friends of the Earth Scotland  “The Scottish Government has condemned the public to more pollution and more climate emissions by opting to spend twenty times more money on new motorways than on walking and cycling paths. The decision comes only a day after news that over 2,500 people in Scotland die each year from air pollution, up from earlier estimates.”
  • WWF Scotland   “There can be little doubt this Budget is inconsistent with Scotland’s Climate Change Act and fails to deliver on the Scottish Government’s commitment to embed climate change across the Budget”

The Future

Edinburgh Council has been increasing its investment in active travel year on year and as a result cycling rates are growing substantially.   The next Scottish Government must learn from the Capital.  Parties and candidates for the May Holyrood elections must be asked to support the call for 10% of future transport budgets to go to walking and cycling.




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