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'Budget continues to lock Britain into a polluted, congested future': Chancellor criticised by Cycling charities

Pothole
Joe Robinson
30 Oct 2018

Sustrans and Cycling UK both voice concerns over Chancellor's latest Budget

UK cycling and walking charities, Cycling UK and Sustrans, have both voiced criticisms at the Autumn Budget, labelling its road spending plans as 'completely off track' and a budget that 'continues to lock Britain into a polluted, congested future'.

Yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the Conservative Autumn Budget. It included a £420million boost to local councils to fix potholes as well as a £28.8billion road building fund - sourced from vehicle excise duty. The fund will be used to upgrade and maintain motorways and other major roads.

This was feebly balanced by a fund of £60million to plant trees in England although there was no mention of increased cycling infrastructure or provisions. (Incidentally, previous owners of Cyclist, the Heart of England Forest, has independently committted a greater amount to the planting of trees).

This has lead to a wave of criticism, led by Cycling UK, which has stated the budget's spending on roads is 'way off track'.

'For less than a third of £28 billion to be spent on new motorways - £9.3 billion according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance - the Chancellor could have fixed the UK's current pothole problem,' said head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore

'Spending money on new motorways does nothing to address the concerns of people who use local roads for everyday travel. Cycling UK believes the Government should adopt a fix it first policy towards roads before building more.'

Criticisms were then shared by Sustrans policy director, Steve Brooks, who was also damning of the government's decision to ignore recent concerns regarding climate change and further entrench the use of pollution-emitting vehicles as the primary mode of transport.

'Sadly this budget continues to lock Britain into a polluted, congested future which in the long-run will cost the country billions. The National Roads Fund, created by hypothecating English Vehicle Excise Duty to roads spending, is particularly alarming at a time when climate experts call for a drastic reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions,' said Brooks.

'We urge the UK Government to rethink its approach to VED; ensure local authorities have appropriate funds to maintain existing roads for the safety of pedestrians and people who cycle; and start taking walking and cycling seriously and commit to 5% of the transport budget raising to 10% of the transport budget by 2025 being spent on active travel in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.'

Beyond Sustrans and Cycling UK, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas took to Twitter to express her disbelief at a budget that failed to mention climate change and instead increased funding towards road users even commenting that 'Our children won't forgive us'.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also weighed in with criticism concerning the national roads fund stating that 'it beggars belief that London is not eligible to access funds from this scheme for the upkeep of our major roads' despite paying £600m annually.

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