Projects drawn up to boost walking and cycling have been put ‘under review’ after Gloucestershire County Council received just a fraction of the £10million bid for from the Government, writes Leigh Boobyer.

The authority said it would have been “surprised” to receive the full £10m it wanted to help cyclists, pedestrians and public transport during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but was handed £864,750 earlier this week instead.

The projects, ranging from linking Cheltenham to Gloucester with a six-mile cycle path and upgrading a cycle lane in Stroud, will now be reviewed by civic chiefs to see what the money can go towards.

The county council said it decided to put an “ambitious” bid for projects after receiving more money than expected in a previous round of funding, and added the Department for Transport has not told officials why it received less money.

At its peak, cycling in Gloucestershire increased by 190 per cent during the first lockdown, the authority said.

The first round of Government funding, through the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF), saw the county council awarded £321,773 to busy shopping areas such as Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds.

Councillor Nigel Moor, cabinet member for planning and environment, said: “While it is a little disappointing not to get all the money we had bid for, we will put our allocation to best use for the long term benefit to the county and continue to work hard to secure more funding in the future, to help us deliver our ambitious plans for tackling climate change and improving the health and wellbeing of people across the county.

“Using money awarded earlier this year, we have already delivered several temporary schemes which have helped communities to remain active and safe during this ongoing pandemic.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Iain Dobie (LD, Leckhampton and Warden Hill), said: “This is an appalling indictment of Gloucestershire County Council’s walking and cycling ambitions.

“It was made very clear that painted lines on the road would not be funded, yet the Conservatives did not manage to create a single segregated bike lane with the first pot of money, and we have all been punished because of it.

“To receive so little for the final round shows their own Government doesn’t trust Gloucestershire Conservatives to spend the active travel funding well.  This failure has cost all residents dearly, resulting in a £9million black hole for walking and cycling schemes.

“The Conservatives in Shire Hall must admit they messed up and resolve to fund ambitious, fully segregated schemes, themselves, because Gloucestershire deserves better than Tory incompetence.”

What are the projects under review? 

The Golden Valley Route (A419) in Stroud was proposed to improve walking and cycling access to the town centre and station from the east, and segregated cycle lanes on Cainscross Road.

Improving crossing facilities in Moreton-in-Marsh, in the Cotswolds, as well as supporting the high number of pedestrians near the A44 and access to schools, shops and the local railway station.