Funding boost for the expansion of active travel schemes in west Cheshire
24 November 2020Cheshire West and Chester Council has been notified of a grant award from ‘Tranche 2’ of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund, which is seeking to deliver an attractive alternative to the travelling public for shorter journeys and support efforts to improve public health.
The Council made an ambitious bid to reflect the many ideas and suggestions that communities made over the Summer via the Walk Ride Thrive Participate Now portal and in relation to the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Funding of £611,800 has now been confirmed for plans to permanently reallocate roadspace to active travel. As less funding has been awarded than was bid for, the schemes and activities will need to be prioritised for delivery to reflect the available finances.
The proposed priority schemes, which those communities will be asked to codevelop and help deliver, are identified below:
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “Increasing cycling and walking opportunities is considered essential to help address some of the most challenging issues that we face as a society including; improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and tackling traffic congestion. There is an emphasis placed on the need to increase health benefits from more physical activity and the longer-term benefits of this to the NHS. I therefore welcome this additional investment.
“In contrast to the significant constraints imposed on Tranche 1 funding, it is notable that government has advised that it is now more important that these new schemes are delivered robustly, and that community support is established than being delivered rapidly.
“This fully aligns with the Council’s own common approach to the co-development of schemes with our communities, and within appropriate timescales. We will now approach local representatives of the communities that are set to benefit from our prioritised schemes, to agree the precise form of engagement that will generate and gather a truly representative picture of local views. We hope that these communities will then continue to help us through the delivery stage and encourage widespread use of the new facilities.
“The newly formed independent Sustainable Transport Taskforce will also be invited to support and review our plans for stakeholder engagement on these schemes.
“It is important to note that the complementary cycle training, Park & Cycle and the digital applications will be available to communities across the borough and further details on how residents can access those initiatives will be announced in the New Year. I also want to advise that while the Tranche 2 funding is finite and we are only able to deliver a small number of schemes, the Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan adopted in the Summer does represent our 10-year strategy and we encourage all communities to work with us in exploring how these other schemes can be delivered.”