NYCC’s failure to obtain cycling funding

Whitby : Cycling

In 2020, the current UK government announced £2bn being available to support active travel in England, to be overseen by a new organisation, Active Travel England, based in York. Councils were encouraged to bid for funding for schemes that would promote cycling, particularly where it could replace car journeys.

Active Travel Fund (Tranche 2)

NYCC applied for £1.465m funding for 5 schemes, 3 in Harrogate, 1 in Helmsley, and 1 near Whitby in 2020. They were awarded £1.01m, and decided that 2 schemes in Harrogate, and 1 near Whitby would go ahead. The Whitby schema would run from the Park-and-Ride to 4-lane ends. It was chosen seemingly arbitrarily by NYCC with no public consultation process in the selection of scheme, simply with the remit of providing an active travel alternative to a bus route. In this case, NYCC chose the sole local bus route that no local person would utilise, designed for day trippers! The only consultation happened after selection, where local people registered their consternation that a distant council has, yet again, arbitrarily decided that the town needs something that would not benefit residents (in this case a cycle route), when there is a long list of potential cycle routes that would have benefitted them; just as an example, Sandsend Road is on a bus route, yet utterly dangerous for cyclists, and would have benefitted both residents and visitors.

The appointment of a tender for this scheme should have been carried out by October 2021 and scheme completion by March 2022. This never happened. We understand, through those “in the know”, that the scheme will now not happen. The other 2 schemes in Harrogate have also, to date, not started.

Active Travel Fund (Tranche 3)

NYCC made a bid for £1.645m for 5 schemes in June 2021. The 5 schemes were £0.9m for a canal towpath, £0.55m for wider pavements etc in Ripon, a design stage, and a couple of other feasibility studies. They were awarded nothing. The only conclusion from this being that their proposals were not ambitious, that they maybe didn’t meet LTN 1/20, or that their utter failure to make use of the funding from Tranche 2 had weighed against them. Looking at the councils that did get success in Tranche 3, there were several very ambitious schemes awarded large sums of money.

Once more, no consultation with the public happened before bidding, and no oversight of the process used to select schemes. There is seemingly no portal for inputting such proposals.

Overcoming the Inability

The lack of consultation with local groups prior to bidding has to be the prime area to address. Councils (such as NYCC) don’t have any track record of consultation, of delivering what residents actually want. Until this link is established, fulfilment of public requirements is not going to happen. Local groups know best what is needed, and where the local priority is, whereas councils have people capable of implementing the requirement.

It has been reported elsewhere that within NYCC “…our officers are using our adopted Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans to identify potential bid material” would mean that Whitby would never get any targetted funding through that process, since NYCC have no (current) plan to provide an LCWIP here. So how did the Park-and-Ride scheme come to light? It clearly wasn’t from a resident! There is no traceability of decision making, never mind traceability of the status of projects within NYCC. People submitting ideas need to know on what basis they will be rated by NYCC and, without a clear definition let alone a mechanism for submitting ideas, how can anyone rely on this council process in achieving the best for its residents?

Once funding is allocated, the inability to deliver a project has to point to either an inability to calculate cost for the bid (and hence not be able to have a tender for the implementation of the project), or an inability to work to timescales. Either way, the current staffing at NYCC needs to be assessed as to whether they have the necessary skills, and find a solution to it.

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