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Sustainable travel options neutered by lack of local council funding

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Schemes designed to promote the use of sustainable travel options, such as walking, cycling or the installation of electric car charging points, are being hampered by a lack of local council funding according to a new report.

In a snapshot poll, the Local Government Association (LGA) found that the overwhelming majority of councils have introduced 20mph zones, provided secure cycle parking, promoted cycling and walking through schools and included sustainable travel within their Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

However, the survey reveals that the main barriers stopping councils from doing more to invest in sustainable travel were: lack of revenue funding (87 per cent for cycling/walking and 82 per cent for public transport); uncertainty over continued levels of funding (74 per cent for cycling/walking and 79 per cent for public transport); and lack of capital funding (68 per cent for cycling/walking and for public transport).

LGA transport spokeswoman Judith Blake said: “Councils are working hard to reduce congestion on our roads and tackle air pollution in our communities. Good air quality is vital for our health and quality of life as well as the environment.

“Local government has already introduced a number of measures that include encouraging the use of electric vehicles with recharging points, promoting cycling, investing in cleaner buses, managing borough-wide air-pollution-monitoring networks, pioneering the concept of low-emission zones, planning for new places in ways that improve air quality, and engaging with businesses to increase awareness and reduce their environmental impact.

“However, this survey makes clear that significant change is still needed. Uncertainty and a lack of revenue funding are highlighted as clear barriers to investment.

“The LGA has been calling on the government to provide long-term funding certainty as well as to reinvest 2p per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance which would generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on promoting sustainable travel, reducing congestion and improving roads.”

By 2020, local authorities will have faced a reduction to core funding from the government of nearly £16bn since 2010. That means that councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the government had provided to spend on local services.

A government spokeswoman said: “This government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future, underlined by on-going investment in sustainable travel right across the UK.

“This includes £1.7bn investment through the Transforming Cities Fund, to connect communities and make it quicker and easier for people to get around.”

Last year an E&T report found that local councils are chopping trees down at an alarming rate in London, with over 10,000 specimens removed by council chainsaw crews in 2016 alone.

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