With Cycling England being abolished today (31/3/11) there are concerns that its successors will be unable to achieve the shift needed towards sustainable transport, says the Guardian.
The DfT will bring Cycling England’s key functions ‘in house’ through the mechanism of a £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).
In the past Norman Baker, under-secretary of state for transport, has praised Cycling England’s demonstration towns. He said that £160m in government funds to 18 towns and cities had reversed the national trend of decline in cycling to show an increase of 27%, and a doubling in the number of children cycling to school.
But, according to the Guardian report, he now wants to hand power back to local authorities and move away from specific grants to local solutions. He envisages local authorities working in partnership with the voluntary sector, community and business to put forward proposals for grant funding from the scheme.
Jason Torrance, policy manager for Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, welcomes the LSTF, but with some trepidation. "We need a national response to a national crisis. Devolving responsibility to local authorities to interpret, or in their own way prioritise as they see fit, is not necessarily a recipe for success,” he said.
"Philip Hammond (the transport secretary) says on the one hand that the government has prioritised action to tackle climate change but on the other hand he says that local views can be different. Some will de-prioritise sustainable transport. We need urgent guidance (on cycling) from central government to local authorities.
"We don’t have a funding environment that has £140m for a Cycling England. It is now incumbent on the local authorities to use the momentum in a wider sense and move towards integrated transport systems as a part of upcoming local transport plans."
Click here to read the full Guardian report.