In response to the pandemic Councils all over the Country have received funding for 'emergency active travel' (Active travel is Local Government speak for cycling and walking). This week Calderdale Council met, the lead member responsible for this funding Cllr Jane Scullion presented a report. It said:
"In response to the pandemic we’ve successfully implemented emergency active travel measures to the tune of approximately £568k. As well as social distancing, the measures have enabled 12 school streets and improved cycle facilities in a number of schools."
I was suspicious of how £568K of money was spent. It's a large chunk. It's 14 times as much as the £40K the Council provided towards ending Child Hunger. So I asked for a breakdown, and below is the list of what I was sent.
The first thing I noticed was out of the £568K only 5K ended up to help with social distancing outside of schools. Another £13K on COVID signage. The real big ticket items were £121K on rising bollards for Halifax Town Centre and £157K on temporary barriers. I don't understand how either of these things promote cycling or walking or help combat COVID and the pandemic. I'm told as well the local authority is renting these barriers.
At a time when Local Government funds are in such short supply this represents another wasted opportunity by the Labour administration running Calderdale to both tackle the pandemic, and improve cycling and walking routes. Only a small amount of the money actually ended up being spent on improving cycling and walking routes. Most went on temporary measures to annoy and frustrate motorists.
And if anyone has any answers as to how you can spend £1,800 on a single bollard or £10,000 on a cargo bike please let us know. (update someone has kindly let us know about the £10,000 for the Cargo bike and this line was also spent on other equipment in addition to the bike itself and on some training which is good news).