Suffolk: Council fails in bid to land part of £160m government funding in cycling - despite hosting elite cycle races
- Credit: Archant
Council chiefs and leading cycle groups have reacted with dismay after a bid to land part of a £160million government investment in cycling was rejected.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) bosses were hopeful of securing £2.6m to improve its cycle infrastructure around the county as part of its cycling revolution.
But while the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded Norwich £3.7m and Cambridge £4.1m, SCC chiefs were left empty handed in a snub that has provoked widespread outcry.
Keith Halton, secretary of Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) Suffolk branch, said: “We are naturally disappointed SCC was not successful in their bid and we will be pressing our MPs to ensure they give their full support to receive future investment.
“While Suffolk does a considerable amount to provide cycling facilities we would like to see further improvements to cycling facilities in the county and major towns.
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“It is important to reduce car traffic and will provide more health benefits for residents.”
The funding blow comes after the county was hand-picked to host a variety of top class cycling events in recent times.
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Ipswich was chosen as the place to launch the Tour of Britain race in 2012, welcoming British Olympic hero Sir Bradley Wiggins as thousands lined the street.
The town also held the final round of the leading national cycle race, the 2013 Pearl Izumi Tour Series, in June, while Chantry Park in Ipswich hosted the first international cyclo-cross event – the European Cyclo-Cross Championships – on British shores for 20 years last November.
Barry Denny, chairman of the West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club, described the funding rejection as a “great shame” for the county.
“I’m really surprised because we have had the Tour of Britain and other major events recently,” he said.
“Cycling is huge in Suffolk, both as a leisure and fitness pursuit and as a sport. We are noted as a cycling county and our membership is booming. It’s trebled in the last three years.
“So it is disappointing not to be awarded it. Perhaps it is because we are seen as a rural county without any cities, but we could have done with the infrastructure funding to improve cycling provisions on our roads.”
Lucy Robinson, SCC’s director for Economy, Skills and Environment, admitted she was “disappointed” the authority was unsuccessful in its investment bid.
“We are however currently spending £21 million on the Travel Ipswich scheme which will make improvements to cycle routes,” she added.
“We will also continue to explore other options and will endeavour to bid for any further funding that may become available in the future.”
A Dft spokesman defended its selection policy, insisting bids were considered in a “rigorous, transparent and fair” assessment process.