Yesterday (14 March 2017) East Cheshire Council took the positive and ambitious step to formally back our Space for Cycling campaign, through a motion at its full Cabinet meeting.
The motion passed by the council read:
“This Council supports the Space for Cycling process promoted by Cycling UK and commits to providing the funding to implement its cycling policy effectively.”
The motion was proposed by Labour Councillor, Sam Corcoran, and seconded by Conservative Councillor, Howard Murray, at a Council meeting on 15 December 2016. This was a result of both Councillors attending a Space for Cycling workshop organised by Cycling UK in Crewe on 3 December 2016.
The motion was referred to Cabinet for consideration and passed unanimously on the afternoon of 14 March 2017.
At the same Cabinet meeting, the council’s Cycling Strategy was adopted. The Strategy “sets out an ambitious vision for a network of high-quality strategic cycle routes which connect local communities and key growth areas, whilst also giving access to leisure opportunities and Cheshire East’s natural environment”.
The motion to support Space for Cycling outlines a set of funding commitments to implement their strategy, including allocating 8.5% of their own local transport budget to active travel for the year 2017/18. In addition, Cheshire East have secured a share of £5 million, which was allocated to Cheshire & Warrington to improve cycle routes that link key housing and employment development sites.
Commenting on the motion, Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaigner, Tom Guha, said:
“We are ecstatic to see Cheshire East show such bold leadership regarding cycling. To see a county council allocate 8.5% of their local transport budget to active travel is a clear mark of what can be done when the political will exists. Cheshire East have decisively thrown down the gauntlet for other local authorities to get behind Space for Cycling.
“We do though have concerns over the timescales and the resources attached to the current plan. As Cllr Corcoran raised at the meeting, Cheshire East currently has just one part-time member of staff, who has other priorities as well, working on cycling. And currently funding streams are set to run out after just one year. To truly make a success of the two motions passed yesterday, resources must be properly allocated and timescales have to be long-term”.
In a press release from the local Labour group, Cllr Sam Corcoran said:
“The vision of the strategy is good but the detail over delivery is lacking and the resources needed are not yet available. If the Conservatives are serious about improving cycling facilities then they need to provide the staff to help develop safe cycle routes.”
Adding to this, Ben Wye, Chair of local cycle campaign group Crewe ACT, said:
“The unanimous support for cycling marks a sea change in policy that acknowledges cycling, in all its forms, as key in making Cheshire East a better place to live and work. Cycling was agreed as an effective way of saving money in the long term, but we await confirmation of funding now that can make the policy a reality”.
A webcast of the meeting is available to view online. Skip to item seven to see the motion for Space for Cycling.