Whitby and District has
- some of the lowest uptake in cycling in the whole of North Yorkshire.
- some of the lowest life expectancy in the whole of North Yorkshire. Active Travel is proven to provide for better health outcomes. Additional to this, 80% of the poverty in the North Yorkshire area is in this borough.
- virtually non-existent cycle infrastructure. Cycling uptake will not increase until it is made safe, and with just a single leisure route with appalling access that won’t make a blind bit of difference there.
- no Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and consequently will not receive funding for any actual infrastructure until it has one. In 2019 NYCC provided funding to each borough for development of LCWIP’s, and in this borough all of that money went to Scarborough (yes, you’re not surprised about that one, are you?). In the meantime several smaller towns have an LCWIP.
- an amount of Dept for Transport money (c £300k) for a crackpot cycle scheme from Whitby Park-and-Ride to 4-lane-ends roundabout that would benefit no resident (councils do things for tourists around here, but the residents pay the council tax and get nothing); this money has been sat with NYCC for 2 years and nothing delivered.
- proposed deployment of e-bikes in one part of town by SBC/YNYLEP, even though there is no infrastructure, yet they still want to claim potential benefits (benefits that won’t be realised without infrastructure – what happened to being honest?).
One would have thought that NYCC would see an urgent case for changing the situation, given that they will have a mayor in place in 2024 who may actually hold them to account (especially with respect to deprived communities … and this area is a prime example), and especially given that they have a virtue signalling mission statement of being “the first carbon negative region” by 2040. The routemap for this aim (from YNY LEP) implies a 900% increase in cycling by 2030. NYCC informed us that they had finally bid for funding to provide an LCWIP for Whitby area in their October 2022 submission to the Active Travel England “Capability and Ambition Fund”. The reply from Cllr Keane Duncan in January 2023 is as follows
“As you may have seen in the report to the executive member meeting, we submitted a bid to the Capability and Ambition fund in September and had been given an indicative allocation of £220,780 which we have been successful in securing.
There are three main elements that the NYCC Capability and Ambition Fund will aim to deliver. They are:
- Progress Selby LCWIP Corridor 1, (Brayton to Selby) to detailed design stage;
- Data and evidence collection of walking, wheeling and cycling via three intelligent traffic sensors;
- Behaviour change initiatives consisting of organisational travel planning and engagement, cycle training and active travel marketing and communications.
Unfortunately, our request for an additional 25% (£55,195) to fund LCWIP development in Whitby was not successful within our submission. Therefore, we are now looking at alternative sources of funding for this. I will let you know our plan of action for securing this.”
Cllr Keane Duncan, January 2023
So no further forward … for Whitby and District … we were not core to the submission. To give some context here, NYCC recently put £13m into a road scheme near Harrogate (when road traffic will allegedly be reducing by 48% by 2030) yet we now have to hope they can afford £55k to develop a cycle infrastructure strategy for Whitby (to give us some hope of cycling an amount more before 2030). Just can’t make this up!
As all residents in this town know, being stuck on the edge of the county, the town is continually left behind (as evidenced in many other areas of life here – don’t get us started on shoddy public transport, NYCC, which will allegedly need to pick up the slack by 2028 when we’re driving 48% less!). Councils are keen to use images of this town in publicity material to attract yet more tourists (hint : the town is “rammed” for many months of the year, at its capacity, stuffed, so no NYCC you can’t get more in). Any excuse for showing off this town as being part of North Yorkshire, such as paying for virtue signalling cycle races to come through the town (as if that will encourage people to use a bike on the dangerous roads that we have!). As said, any money that does come here is typically aimed at the tourist or on council vanity projects (case in point being £17m SBC “Town Deal”, with exceedingly limited consultation with residents, and only 1 project that will benefit residents). The health of the resident population is not an urgent priority, seemingly.
We now find ourselves in a situation where we have a clear reasoned argument for an improvement in cycling infrastructure, fully evidence-based, using all facts that we could prise out of councils, something that would have set us out in a positive direction, yet has still to get us moving forward. We all pay the same council tax in this (soon to be) unitary county, yet some parts seemingly get a crap deal. Will a future North Yorkshire mayor make the blind bit of difference? Can it be any worse?
If NYCC want to have a hope in hell of achieving the “YNY LEP Routemap to carbon negative” targets then things have to change rapidly. We still fail to see any way that this is going to be achieved. We can only hope that action happens in the next 6 months or you can kiss goodbye to that target … at least for this part of North Yorkshire.