22nd Sep, 2020

Council chiefs saddle up for cycling war of words

Ross Crawford 27th Jul, 2020

A WAR of words over boosting cycling facilities in Worcestershire has broken out at County Hall.

It comes after the opposition Labour group, led by Councillor Robin Lunn (Redditch North) called on full council last week to support a motion promoting and encouraging cycling across the county.

It also asked for its scrutiny board to carry out a short sharp scrutiny with the idea of introducing improvements in line with government policy.

However it was rejected on the grounds that Labour hadn’t followed the correct procedure by bringing it forward as a motion when the scrutiny board sets its own agenda – and they’d looked into cycling just the year ago – albeit before the coronavirus lockdown had sparked an explosion of interest in cycling.

‚ÄúThis makes no sense at all and gives the impression that the county council is not interested in promoting cycling or looking at ways of encouraging more people to do so safely,” said Coun Lunn.

“It is particularly odd as it appears to go against government policy. Their opposition is mystifying, they are simply looking for excuses to do nothing!”

He added that as the Conservatives were not interested in investigating cycling, Labour would carry out their own opposition scrutiny and produce their own report, and invited other opposition groups to join them.

However the county’s highways and transport portfolio holder Coun Alan Amos hit back accusing Labour of playing politics.

“We have 34 active travel schemes for cycling and walking and our programme is second to none,” he said.

“In addition we are spending 11 per cent of our transport budget on walking and cycling, and bear in mind our own survey found only one per cent of people commute by bicycle to work.

“We’ve been accused of not being ambitious enough for only getting 50 per cent of the first phase government money for cycling.

“But so did Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire – are you going to tell me Oxford is the victim of an anti-cycling conspiracy?”

On the issue of the Labour motion he added: “It’s an important procedural point – Scrutiny set their own programme and then come back to council.

“They looked at cycling last year and have lost three months due to Covid-19 this year, but if they want to look at cycling again then that is their decision.”

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