DfT announces new sustainable transport fund…

…but fails to quash rumours it is to squish Cycling England.

Plans for a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund have been announced today by Local Transport minister Norman Baker.

The proposed fund will challenge local transport authorities outside London to develop packages of measures that support economic growth and reduce carbon in their communities as well as delivering cleaner environments, improved safety and increased levels of physical activity.  

The fund is rumoured to be the sop which will be wheeled out when the Coalition Government scraps a host of national schemes and quangos, such as Cycling England.

There’s no cash figure for the fund yet.

“Measures could include encouraging walking and cycling, initiatives to improve integration between travel modes and end-to-end journey experiences, better public transport and improved traffic management schemes,” said a statement from the Department for Transport.

The DfT also announced that, in line with its ‘localism agenda’, it intends to pool the centrally funded local transport grants to create fewer but larger funding streams.

If Cycling England is lost in the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ expected before the Comprehensive Spending Review, it’s expected Baker will say cycling schemes have to be funded locally, not nationally.

It’s believed Bikeability will continue to be supported by the Department for Transport.

Announcing the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Baker said:

“It is at a local level that most can be done to change patterns of behaviour and encourage more sustainable travel, especially for short journeys. 

“And in an environment of tighter budgets and greater local flexibility, the Government is determined to reduce bureaucracy and make local transport funding more efficient.

“That is why we intend to pool the myriad of centrally funded local transport grants, to create fewer but larger funding streams, largely formula based, and a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund.”

It will be for local partnerships – local transport authorities working with their communities – to identify the right solutions for their areas which are financially robust and sustainable in the long term, said the DfT.

Funding for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund will be set aside from within the Department’s overall funding allocation following conclusion of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Details about the new Fund, including the resources available and how it will operate, will be announced later in the year.

Norman Baker is the minister in charge of cycling within the DfT.

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