Sustainable transport held back due to lack of funding, LGA says

A poll of council transport heads, conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA), has revealed the main barrier preventing councils from investing more in sustainable travel was a lack of revenue funding (87%  for cycling/walking and 82% for public transport).

The poll also credited uncertainty over levels of funding (74% for cycling/walking and 79% for public transport) and a lack of capital funding (68% for cycling/walking and for public transport) for poor levels of investment into sustainable travel.

However, the survey reported the overwhelming majority have introduced 20mph zones, provided secure cycle parking and/or changing facilities, promoted cycling or and/or walking through schools and included sustainable travel within their Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

The LGA says that by 2020, local authorities will have faced a reduction to core funding from the Government of nearly £16bn since 2010.

They estimate that councils in England face a funding gap of almost £8bn by 2025.

The LGA said long-term funding certainty for sustainable travel, such as cycling and walking initiatives, would help councils do more to promote exercise which reduces obesity whilst also reducing car use, generating wider benefits around reducing congestion and emissions.

Judith Blake, Local Government Association transport spokesperson, said: ‘Councils are working hard to reduce congestion on our roads and tackle air pollution in our communities. Good air quality is vital for our health and quality of life as well as the environment.

‘Local government has already introduced a number of measures that include encouraging the use of electric vehicles with recharging points, promoting cycling, investing in cleaner buses, managing borough-wide air pollution monitoring networks, pioneering the concept of low-emission zones, planning for new places in ways that improve air quality, and engaging with businesses to increase awareness and reduce their environmental impact.

‘However, this survey makes clear that significant change is still needed. Uncertainty and a lack of revenue funding are highlighted as clear barriers to investment.

‘The LGA has been calling on the Government to provide long-term funding certainty as well as to reinvest 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance which would generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on promoting sustainable travel, reducing congestion and improving roads.’

Responding to the poll, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK said:

‘To promote active travel, local authorities throughout England have been encouraged by the Government to prepare detailed plans for networks of walking and cycling routes. But plans are merely aspirations without investment, and there’s a desperate need for a new funding stream from Government to enable local authorities to deliver their walking and cycling infrastructure plans.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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