Bespoke have written to Active Travel England to express concern that active travel funding is being used to actually prevent active travel in Eastbourne.
Dear Regional Engagement Manager South East for Active Travel England
RE: Concerns over the latest funding provided by yourselves to East Sussex, with negative consequences for cycling in Eastbourne
We are writing from Bespoke, Eastbourne’s cycle campaign group. We would like to draw the attention of Active Travel England to the adverse consequences of the recent allocation of £1.22 million to East Sussex County Council.
We are aware from ESCC’s recent press statement that some funding is being used for school streets. The biggest effect, however, will be the further removal of cycling from Eastbourne town centre. Bespoke has been supported by Cycling UK and others in a campaign about Town Centre Phase 2b – ESCC’s plan creates severance issues for cyclists, plans to ban cycling from sections where cars and buses are currently allowed and plans to divert cyclists onto the busier ring road with increased traffic.
You will be aware that it is difficult for campaign groups to track spending by some councils. The ESCC annual budgets are, however, publicly available and all cycle groups commonly rely on Freedom of Information requests.
The county council gets funds that affect active travel from several sources, including:
- Developers – Through sections 106 and 278, Community Infrastructure Levy. To implement bus/cycle lanes, 20mph, etc.
- Department for Levelling Up – where some aspect of a scheme has active travel
- South East LEP (to be disbanded) and Transport for the South East
- Department for Transport – £42m to Bus Service improvement – Bus lanes and transport hubs
- Active Travel England– the Covid funds for tranches T1 to T4.
- Viring monies between ESCC budgets. Such as, pre-Covid, the £5m transferred from active travel to cover a shortfall in a road scheme.
It is therefore accepted, that it is hard to identify cycle scheme specific funding. However, presumably as ATE you have a duty to:
- Track funds, that were bid for, but spent on other schemes. In Tranche 1 and Tranche 2, ESCC bid for a large number of ‘Pop-Up’ cycle lanes, none of which were built. Of the £2.5 million, 50% was recently unspent and all the cycle schemes, were cancelled apart from a 33% contribution to a route in Brighton. Possibly the remaining budget will be transferred to their school streets programme.
- More worrying for cycle groups, is that funds that you are providing are reducing cycle provision. This would include the increasing restriction to cycling in Eastbourne town centre. Perhaps look at Danny Williams’ Twitter feed when confronted with the dismount signs that a visitor sees when alighting at the station: https://twitter.com/citycyclists/status/1555490881771376640 . Cycling UK’s statement about the astonishing town centre plan excluding cycling is at: https://www.cyclinguk.org/news/cycling-uk-objects-eastbournes-proposals-ban-cycling-town-centre-street
Bespoke has discussed with Sustrans and Cycling UK whether there is a way that ATE could consult them, or even us, when negotiating with councils that are poorly performing. This would provide alternative views from stakeholders.
Bespoke want you to record our disappointment with the current funding round for Tranche 4.
We also are aware that ESCC have not formally published the results of the latest consultation. We believe large numbers of local people made objections to the worsening provision for cyclists and potential cyclists. Hence, we hope that it may not be too late for you to intervene and prevent a further worsening of provision for cycling in Eastbourne. Eastbourne is only 4 miles across and should be excellent for cycling. ESCC’s plans are disastrous. Please would you intervene with ESCC and contact us?
With kind regards
Dr Gem Aellah
Chair – Bespoke Cycle Group Eastbourne