Millions coming for new cycle measures – but Suffolk won’t close many more roads

PUBLISHED: 00:01 13 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:09 13 November 2020

Councillor Paul West and Head of Transport Strategy Graeme Mateer showed off the new cycle route in Milner Street in Ipswich in July.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Councillor Paul West and Head of Transport Strategy Graeme Mateer showed off the new cycle route in Milner Street in Ipswich in July. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Suffolk County Council is set to get nearly £1.7m to improve cycling and walking routes in towns – especially Ipswich – in the government’s latest bid to encourage more people to leave their cars at home in the wake of the pandemic.

And in Essex more than £7.3m has been given to the council to improve cycle facilities – although most of that is expected to be spent in urban centres near London like Basildon, Harlow and Epping Forest.

The new money had been expected by Suffolk which will now go ahead with drawing up plans for new schemes to encourage cycling and walking – although this time there will be widespread public consultations and there are unlikely to be many road closures in Ipswich.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told councils to ensure there is proper consultation after schemes in some parts of the country received major criticism in May. If he is not happy with councils’ consultations he could ask for money to be returned.

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Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich Paul West said he did not expect the money to be spent on closing many more routes to general traffic – and did not think there would be more traffic “wands” put up to separate cycles and other road users.

But he did expect more would be spent on improving existing routes and installing more facilities for cyclists. He said: “This is in line with what we had been expecting and now we shall be looking at how this can be used to improve cycling and walking. But we know that nothing will be done unless we can be sure it has public support.

“I don’t think there will be more than one or two more road closures, but there could be a few more changes like moving crossings to make them easier for cyclists.”

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A spokesman for the county’s highways department said officials had been waiting for the news – and this would enable them to go ahead with planning new schemes. He added: “We welcome the announcement of further funding and look forward to starting consultation on potential schemes in due course.”

Councils have been told that after consultations have taken place, work on new schemes should get under way so they are introduced next spring and in place by the time more people want to get back on their bikes.

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