Government asks for 'assurances' from RBWM before securing travel funding

The Royal Borough says it is ‘not at risk of having funding taken away’ after the Government asked for ‘more assurances’ from the council to promote cycling and walking through a recent grant scheme.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published the Government’s allocations to councils across England in its latest ‘Capability Fund’ on July 30, which helps local transport authorities champion active travel in their areas.

Nearby Buckinghamshire Council and Slough Borough Council have both received £111,197 and £240,996 respectively, but the Royal Borough is one of several councils which the Government requires ‘further assurances’ from before funding is confirmed.

The council’s active travel plans have been in the news a lot recently. A total of £335,000 in funding was given to it last year as part of the Government’s Active Travel Fund.

But a consultation earlier this year saw thousands of people respond to a number of controversial council plans, including a hugely unpopular bus gate in Shoppenhangers Road.

In April, the Advertiser reported how another consultation was due to take place this summer, and this has been confirmed to go live by mid-August.

Via a letter to local authorities on July 30, Mr Shapps said that in some cases the Government has, given the ‘recent record’ of an authority, halted all funding until it is sure of that council’s commitment to active travel.

This includes authorities which have ‘prematurely removed’ active travel schemes.

In a statement, the Royal Borough council said that ‘assurances have already been sent’ to the Department for Transport [DfT], confirming that the funding would be invested in active travel, by developing a Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan (LWCIP).

“The Royal Borough hasn't removed active travel measures, and we are not at risk of having funding taken away,” a spokeswoman added.

The DfT said that it was ‘seeking some further details of the activities the council intends to support through the Capability Fund’ – and how these will be delivered and monitored.

Speaking to the Advertiser this week, the council’s lead member for transport, Councillor Gerry Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham) played down the fact that the Royal Borough had not yet been allocated cash.

“It is actually just detail about our intentions and delivery of schemes,” he said.

It is about clarity, it is not a problem – it is ever so minor.”

When asked what the Capability Fund money would be spent on, Cllr Clark added: “I do not want to say what the money would be used for. I do not want to pre-empt it.

“But we do need to look at supporting different areas – we need education, schemes, pilots, consultations – all of these things actually cost money.”

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