Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Local Enterprise Partnerships... and funding sustainable transport

There is concern that the plans for devolution in the 'Heart of the South-West' will focus on 'growth' in very particular areas - and that local government will have very little say in how this is funded:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "The council is not happy at all, but has no choice. They are being completely squeezed of funds and will have to go cap in hand to the Local Enterprise Partnership in order to keep functioning."

Central government funding for transport is distributed in the main by the Local Enterprise Partnership, which has a remit for economic growth - as has most funding streams.

Meanwhile, the current Local Sustainable Transport Fund is due to be replaced by the Access Fund:

But many issues remain:

Govt 'allergy' to ring-fencing makes tough job for sustainable transport

Chris Ames 18 March 2016

The smart and sustainable travel community has ‘a job of work’ to do to access funding from the successor to the Local Sustainable Travel Fund (LSTF), a senior Department for Transport (DfT) official has said.

Graham Pendlebury, the DfT’s director of local transport, also said that ‘boosting economic growth and opportunity’, which is one of DfT four strategic objectives, is ‘probably the uber-objective for us’.

The DfT has previously said that its objectives are 'equally important'.

Mr Pendlebury told delegates at a recent industry conference that the Government’s new access fund, which is part of the Local Growth Fund, will be ‘building upon some of the more successful elements of the LSTF’.

New £580m ‘Access’ fund means annual cycle funding remains well short of £10 per head target

by Alex Bowden December 11 2015

The Government says it will continue to support sustainable transport with a new £580m ‘Access’ fund for England which will run until 2019-20. However, the funding equates to little less than £3 per person per year – far below the £10 per person per year level the Prime Minister said he would be aiming for.

Asked by Lord Crathorne in the House of Lords whether the government had any plans to build bicycle tracks when new roads are constructed in the UK, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, said that there was to be a new £580m ‘Access’ fund supporting growth in cycling and walking that would build on the legacy of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

In April, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Conservative Party was aiming to increase funding for cycling to £10 per person per year, aiming to double levels of cycling by 2025. While the government is keen to point out that spend per head is currently over £10 in the eight Cycle City Ambition cities and in London, elsewhere it is far below.

Spanning the period from when the Department for Transport (DfT) publishes the long-awaitedCycling and Walking Investment Strategy in spring until 2019-20, the Access Fund works out at £145m per year, so less than £3 per head based on England's population of 53 million at the 2011 Census.

New £580m ‘Access’ fund means annual cycle funding remains well short of £10 per head target | road.cc

Another problem is that the funding is being focussed on urban areas:
Transport News > Devolved Regions Can Fly Flag for Active Travel >
Transport News > Dft Announces Stopgap Funding for Active Travel Projects >
Meanwhile, there has just been an announcement on the Cycling Infrastructure Fund which is out to consultation. The initial reaction is that this fund is not enough money - which echoes fears expressed in the Telegraph last year:

Bike lane funding ‘is about to plummet’

Cycling is soaring in popularity, but funding streams for new bike lanes are drawing to a close and threatening to stop progress in its tracks, warns Claire Francis

The Government must back up its good intentions on cycle instrastructure with actual funding Photo: Alamy

By Claire Francis 30 Aug 2015

Some truly ambitious bike lanes are being built right now in the UK, especially in the capital. Really excellent examples of what can be done when public demand leads to political will, then cash and eventually shovels in the ground. So much so that you could mistakenly assume that funding is flowing like water.

The truth is quite different. In reality the money for cycling infrastructure comes in dribs and drabs, inconsistently distributed, making long term plans nigh-on impossible. And it’s about to get worse: these sporadic sources are about to dry up.

In some cities we’re on the verge of making real progress towards the sort of healthy, happy environment you find in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but something radical must be done to keep the momentum up and spread this progress across England.

The Government has promised to raise spending on cycling to £10 per person annually – a modest target, but one which would help to boost cycling levels slowly in the long term.

Research carried out by sustainable transport charity Sustrans shows that between the 2011/2012 financial year and 2014/2015, that level of investment averaged only £4.21. What's more, 2015 looks like being the start of a sharp decline that will see funding drop below below £1 per person by 2018/2019.

Countries like Denmark and the Netherlands spend around £25 each year per person, yet we aim for just £10, and are set to miss it by 90pc.

In the past, cycling investment has been made through a complex network of funds with esoteric acronyms, drip-fed into small projects that are part of no wider vision, while roads and rail are given ring-fenced, long-term investment. The road budget alone stretches to an annual £24bn.

Many of these sources, such as the vitally important Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), are about to come to an end and there is nothing yet to replace them.

The Government wants to double the number of journeys made by bike before 2025. That simply isn’t going to happen unless a proper plan is put into place. Political promises to emulate Amsterdam or Copenhagen are just empty words without money to make it happen.

Cyclists on a London cycle lane Photo: Alamy

A potentially ground-breaking bit of legislation was recently passed for a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). It requires the government to create a proper, long-term plan for boosting cycling and walking, just like they already have to for the road and rail networks.

It’s a chance for cycling and walking to become as important to those who plan transport budgets as driving or the railways.

What comes next is making sure that the plan which gets developed is ambitious: one which puts real cash into creating the infrastructure needed to get more people on their bikes.

Denmark and the Netherlands took bold steps decades ago that pay dividends today. Huge levels of cycling have made both countries healthier and happier places to live, and we can do the same in the UK.

Enabling people to leave the car at home and walk or cycle for short journeys will make us healthier, reduce the strain on the NHS, improve our air quality, slash congestion and boost the economy. It’s an investment in the future.

That’s the message Sustrans be taking to the Prime Minister next month when we urge him to create a credible CWIS, as the Treasury is holding a consultation right now on what should go in the November Spending Review. Tell him what you think by taking part in our campaign.

Claire Francis is the head of policy and campaigns for Sustrans

Bike lane funding ‘is about to plummet’ - Telegraph

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