Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge’s MP James Heappey has welcomed the news that Somerset County Council will receive more than half a million pounds of funding to work on schemes to increase cycling and walking across the county.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced across two tranches of funding that Somerset has been allocated £577,900, with the newly announced second portion worth £457,900.
It’s part of the Government’s £2billion investment in active travel promised in the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘Gear Change plan’, published in the summer, when Somerset was allocated £120,000 in the first round.
The aim is to provide alternatives for the public when travelling shorter distances, as well provide a wide range of environmental and health benefits across the country.
Following discussions with local MPs, the Government has stipulated that councils receiving money will have to meet tough new conditions to ensure schemes are properly thought through and the impact on other road users is closely weighed up.
Councils will also have longer to spend the money, ensuring there is time to consult local communities.
If these conditions are not met, future funding allocations will be reduced and the Government could claw back some of the money already provided.
Mr Heappey says: “I am pleased to see Somerset County Council receive a significant amount of funding following its bid to Government.”
“We have a lot of keen cyclists and walkers in Somerset and to have the opportunity to increase the offering is positive for those people as well as the benefits to our health and the environment.”
“I look forward to working with the Council on its plans going forward to ensure the schemes are supported by the community.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “It has been great to see so many people build cycling and walking into their daily travel habits. To support them, we know it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place so everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – can use our roads.”
“This funding will help further realise that ambition, but councils must engage with communities to develop schemes that work for everyone. Those that haven’t, won’t be able to take their plans forward.”