Shropshire Star

Council urged to set own dedicated 'active travel' budget

Shropshire Council is being urged to set aside a dedicated active travel budget after national funding cuts were announced to walking and cycling.

The Liberal Democrat group on Shropshire Council will be asking for backing for the motion at the next full meeting of the authority.

The council’s Liberal Democrat group says plans to slash the active travel budget for England by £200 million go against the government’s own ambition to increase the number of journeys walked and cycled.

The group will put forward a motion at the next full council meeting calling on the council to express its concern about the proposal, and set its own active travel budget from 2024 onwards.

Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North said: “The time has never been better to provide infrastructure for active travel.

“Health budgets are stretched. Cycling and walking improves health.

“Shropshire Council’s budget is stretched. Active travel schemes are cheaper than new or improved roads and will deliver greater cost benefits.

“People’s budgets are stretched. Active to work is cheaper.

“It is disappointing that the government has cut back at a time when the whole country is working towards net zero by 2050, if not earlier.”

Copthorne councillor Rob Wilson, a prominent active travel campaigner, said he hoped the motion would receive support from across the council chamber.

He said: “The council has said that it wants a modal shift from cars to public transport and active travel.

“To see more people of all ages and abilities walking, wheeling and cycling, we need to enable them by providing safe and accessible routes for journeys to work, to the shops and to see friends.

“Shropshire Council is committed to helping tackle the climate emergency.

“The financial outlay for walking and cycling scheme is much smaller than needed for other road projects.

“It is time to use what funds we have for the greatest benefit for our communities and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.”

The group says the cuts could have implications for the council’s new Local and Cycling Infrastructure Plan, which aims to improve walking and cycling infrastructure across the county but is reliant on external funding.

If the motion is backed by councillors, council leader Lezley Picton will be asked to write to ministers to express the authority’s concerns over the changes.

It would also commit the council to allocating a budget within its own resources for active travel from 2024/25.

The motion will go before councillors at a meeting on March 30.

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