Combined Authority 'disappointed' and campaigners frustrated as region allocated measly funding to improve travel in Peterborough

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has said that it is ‘disappointed’ in the small amount active travel funding the region has been allocated by central government.

By Ben Jones
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 5:01 am
The closure of Peterborough's Crescent Bridge caused much controversy.
The closure of Peterborough's Crescent Bridge caused much controversy.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Combined Authority had been awarded just £635,000 of funding to support active travel projects in the county in the scheme’s third and final tranche of funding.

The decision was met with anger by groups such as the Peterborough Cycle Forum, who have accused the authority of showing a lack of ambition. The £635,000 was over £2m less than any other authority that applied for funding through the scheme and represents just 4 percent of the amount the West Midlands received.

In the second tranche of funding in July, the city’s authority was awarded £1,724,250. This was, however, after the Department of transport withheld funding altogether in the wake of Peterborough City Council’s decision to close the temporary pop-up cycle lane on Crescent Bridge.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Concerns have been raised that the permanent closure of the lane has been among the contributing factors to the low funding amount handed out this time around.

A spokesperson for Peterborough Cycle Forum said: “Lack of ambition means that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) gained just £635,000 in the government’s latest active travel funding announcement in stark contrast to the transport authorities for other regions.

"Figures quoted on Cambridgeshire County Council’s website show that this level of investment would fund less than a mile of cycleway, and local campaign groups are furious at the potential millions sacrificed by the mayoral authority.

"This is not the first time Cambridgeshire & Peterborough’s allocation has been lower than the figure it applied for, and most of the money gained for the previous set of schemes is yet to be spent, despite an initial implementation deadline of March 2022.

“We welcome new funding for cycling and walking in Peterborough, but we remain concerned about the way that the Thorpe Wood cycleway (part of an £8.1 million roadbuilding project) has been prioritised over schemes that would deliver a greater benefit to more people.

"We need to see transparency and collaboration from Peterborough City Council and the Combined Authority so that a detailed programme of transformative schemes can be agreed upon and every bit of available funding is taken up.”

The authority itself has that it disappointed in the amount of funds allocated and has said that it would welcome the input of key interest groups ahead of future funding bids, while Mayor Dr Nik Johnson has vowed to continue to champions active travel in the county.

Dr Johnson said: “Despite the disappointment of not securing the funds we would have wanted, I remain fully committed to my previously stated ambition for Cambridgeshire to become an active travel exemplar for the whole of the UK.

"As a doctor my driving motivation as I moved away from the hospital and into politics was to improve the physical and mental health of communities. Investment in active travel schemes and supporting communities to make the all-important changes to how we move around can help tackle those fundamental inequalities in health and wellbeing whilst at the same time make a huge difference in tackling climate change .”

“Giving greater access and opportunity for active travel is at the heart of our draft Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) – the plan that will shape the future of transport in our region. I would encourage anyone with an interest in transport to have their say and find out more by logging on to www.yourltcp.co.uk.”

A Combined Authority spokesperson added: “The funding secured for the region compared with other parts of the county was disappointing, especially in light of the region’s strong active travel history.

"The Combined Authority is continuing to progress a number of key active travel schemes across the region using a range of funding sources. In addition, improvements to our market towns, funded by the Combined Authority, will provide additional benefits to active travel users, by making them more attractive to the active travel users and thereby increasing their attractiveness.

“Our new draft Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) puts sustainable transport at its core. Showing ambition in the expansion of active travel across the region is part of the draft strategy to deliver the LTCP’s six proposed goals of: connectivity, productivity, climate, environment, health, and safety.

“The LTCP’s public consultation continues until August 4, and we welcome feedback from the public, interest groups and other key stakeholders to better ensure that the Plan will deliver transport benefits for all. During the consultation period, the Combined Authority and partners will directly be seeking the views of a number of interest groups on the Plan.

"To fully address the active travel concerns, it is anticipated that key interest groups will be involved in the finalisation of the Active Travel Strategy and associated action plan.

“The Combined Authority would welcome input from key interest groups in the development of future active travel funding bids. In mid-June, the mayor is meeting with Sustrans. The aim of this meeting is to outline our aspirations for the region and secure expert advice on how best to maximise the active travel offer for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

"This will include a discussion on how best to secure funding for the much-needed improvements to our active travel network. Finally, the Combined Authority is looking to reinvigorate a Mayor-led Active Travel Forum and to employ an Active Travel Advocate to enable us to improve our support for active travel in the region.”