When will £20million of Suffolk cycle schemes be built?

Suffolk is filled with a range of cycling routes, suitable for all stamina levels

Suffolk County Council has pledged to spend millions on cycle routes to encourage people to get out of their cars and to exercise more as part of a greener future - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Council leaders have refused to outline a timetable for £20million of already identified cycle network upgrades which they pledged to tackle in their manifesto.

Last summer Suffolk County Council announced a raft of improvements affecting dozens of communities across the county.

Nearly 150 routes across Suffolk had been identified as priorities for cycle improvements over the next five years - costing was said to be well in excess of £80million.

County opposition

Members of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group at Suffolk County Council with the Conservative manifesto outside the Endeavour House base - Credit: SCC GLDI GROUP

The Conservative administration committed to spending £20m on work to the cycle network in its manifesto - but the lack of action has been challenged by the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group.

They lodged a motion at the full council meeting on Wednesday calling on the authority to agree to allocate the £20m to cycle infrastructure upgrades, and outline annual targets for that work.

However, the motion was voted down by the 42 votes to 17, as the administration said it could achieve the improvements without having to borrow that sum of cash.

Richard Rout

Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for finance and the environment and deputy leader of Suffolk County Council - Credit: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Richard Rout said: “The rationale of having these identified, shovel-ready schemes, is not to place undue pressure on the Suffolk taxpayer or risk the council finances, but to draw down on funding schemes as they become available.

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“Making a commitment today is not how we set budgets – pressures need to be measured against one another.

“We believe we can deliver real change and real improvements to our cycle network in line with our manifesto without placing undue pressure on the Suffolk taxpayer.”

The council declared a climate emergency in which it pledged to become net carbon zero by 2030, with environmental considerations underpinning decision-making at the authority.

The opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group said people needed to be given a reason to leave their cars at home, which meant investment in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure.

Deputy leader of the group, Robert Lindsay, said: “If we don’t set yearly targets we will have no incentive to actively go out and seek to raise that money."

Addressing the Conservative front bench, he added: “Not only have you refused to timetable spending  by year, you are also refusing to commit to spending it even by 2030.”

Andrew Stringer

Andrew Stringer, Green councillor at Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council. - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

Group leader Andrew Stringer added: “The Green, Lib Dem and Independent group gave the Conservatives an opportunity to commit to delivering a timetable to carry even a fraction of these works, and they have declined.

“Those that voted Conservative thinking that these schemes would have a commitment to be delivered may feel they have been short-changed.”

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