Royal Borough misses out on Government active travel funding

MAIDENHEAD 133741-6

Concerns have been raised this week after a Department for Transport update confirmed the Royal Borough did not receive any cash from a Government active travel funding pot.

The Capability Fund was announced in July last year to help councils outside of London champion active travel in their areas.

The grant will enable authorities to promote cycling and walking and develop dedicated infrastructure plans to set out a vision for a greener transport future.

But a list of final funding allocations for local authorities, published on Tuesday, shows the Royal Borough as the only authority out of nearly 80 on the list not to have received any funding.

A consultation was held last summer to help gauge views on potential active travel measures in Windsor and Maidenhead as the council aimed to start a ‘big conversation’ around the topic to help shape its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).

The borough claimed in August that it was ‘not at risk of having funding taken away’ after the Government asked for ‘more assurances’ to promote cycling and walking through the Fund.

But concerns have been ignited this week after the publication of the list.

Nearby Buckinghamshire Council and Slough Council received £111,197 and £240,996 respectively, while Wokingham Borough Council fetched £94,481.

Leader of the local independents, Councillor Lynne Jones (OWRA, Old Windsor), raised fears over how any active travel measures would now be paid for.

“I believe this council has a lack of forward planning and did not put the resources into having those costed plans to cover the projects the Government wants,” Cllr Jones said.

“If you don’t have the officers to do this kind of policy planning then you are not ready for when the Government says: ‘we have got this pot of money, come and apply for it’.”

Cllr Jones added: “Most other places have already developed and have projects that are ready to go.

“You can have a strategy but if you do not know how you are going to deliver it, then it is hard to access funding.”

Cllr Gerry Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham), the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “Additional assurances were sent to the Department for Transport, confirming that the funding would be invested in active travel by developing a LCWIP.

“Unfortunately on this occasion the Department chose not to award us Capability Funding for the current financial year and the council is seeking feedback on this decision. The council remains committed to developing an LCWIP to help identify how to make improvements and where investment is needed.

“Work on this continues and I would like to thank everyone who participated in last year’s public consultation.

“The responses are being used to draw together ideas to help shape the LCWIP, and these will be investigated and brought forward as potential schemes for further consultation in due course.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We will always work with local authorities to ensure sufficient funding is provided to best support local connectivity and taxpayers.

“However, we have always said those who provided inadequate bids would see this reflected in their funding allocations.”

The Government added that the borough has not received any funding from the Capability Fund in 2021/22, and that decisions about funding in future years will be taken in 'due course'. 

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