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Lack of funding holding back sustainable travel

Lack of revenue funding and uncertainty over current levels of funding are the main barriers to councils investing in sustainable travel, a survey by the Local Government Association has today revealed.

A snapshot poll of councils in England with responsibilities for transport planning and passenger transport, published by the LGA today, reveals the overwhelming majority have introduced 20mph zones, provided secure cycle parking and/or changing facilities, promoted cycling or and/or 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).

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

Analysis by the LGA estimates councils in England face a funding gap of almost £8 billion by 2025.

The LGA said long term funding certainty for sustainable travel, such as cycling and walking initiatives, would help councils do more to promote exercise which reduces obesity whilst also reducing car use, generating wider benefits around reducing congestion and emissions.

Cllr Judith Blake, Local Government Association Transport spokesperson, 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 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance which would generate £1 billion a year for councils to spend on promoting sustainable travel, reducing congestion and improving roads.”

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