Extra cash boost for ‘strong’ walking and cycling schemes

Suffolk County Council has been awarded further funds to introduce cycle-friendly areas Picture: SA

Suffolk County Council has been awarded further funds to introduce cycle-friendly areas Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has been awarded further government funding in a bid to provide emergency walking and cycling schemes across the county.

Portman Road has been blocked off to cars as part of the scheme Picture: ARCHANT

Portman Road has been blocked off to cars as part of the scheme Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The funds come after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in May announced a £250m investment in emergency interventions to make walking and cycling easier and safer during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is hoped the interventions will allow people looking to exercise outdoors to do so safely while maintaining social distancing.

The council has originally been allocated £337,000 by the Government, but has since had its grant increased to £376,501 after the Department for Transport deemed plans to be “particularly strong”.

Work on the schemes has already begun, with the council introducing temporary emergency changes to road layouts in Ipswich – including closing off Ipswich Waterfront to cars, and introducing or widening existing footpaths and cycle lanes.

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It is now hoped the funds will enable similar work to take place in Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Sudbury and Stowmarket. Plans are also underway for areas of Beccles and Newmarket – although the council said it will not be able to deliver all schemes to the six towns via the first tranche of funding.

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said he hopes the work the money will fund will continue to benefit residents even after the pandemic.

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Mr Reid said: “I am delighted that Suffolk County Council has been allocated this additional funding from the Department of Transport.

“Many residents in Suffolk have embraced walking and cycling during the pandemic, so we have a real opportunity here to make our roads and pavements, especially in the built up areas in our county’s towns, safer not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well.

“Our aim is to embed active travel - walking and cycling - as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.”

Mr Reid added it is “crucial” measures work for the majority of local residents, and insisted the council will continue to engage with local communities, businesses and the emergency services.

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