Not Zero: Worcestershire's Active Travel ranking rise welcomed by highways chief - The Worcester Observer

Not Zero: Worcestershire's Active Travel ranking rise welcomed by highways chief

Worcester Editorial 2nd Nov, 2023 Updated: 3rd Nov, 2023   0

COUNTY highways chiefs have welcomed a revision of its walking and cycling provision ranking just over a year since it was warned it would lose funding unless changes were made.

Coun Mike Rouse, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, has revealed Active Travel England now regards Worcestershire County Council as ‘operating above Level 0’ ahead of a re-inspection of its walking and cycling provision.

The county hit the headlines last October when the Government body delivered a ‘Level 0’ ranking leaving red-faced council chiefs barred from making bids for funding for major projects to get people out of their cars.

While Active Travel England has recognised the improvements made in the 12 months since, the rating is still well below the ‘level 4’ rating awarded to councils which have an ‘established culture of active travel’ and ‘highly supportive’ policies which reduce car trips.

The authority was also told to make improvements for cycling and walking or face cuts to its core maintenance budget for the roads, including the funding for pothole repairs.

Coun Rouse said: “We have launched our Active Travel Stakeholder Forum, which is attended by a growing number of special interest groups including those covering disabilities, visually impaired, and even the equestrian community given our rural composition.

“This is helping to shape our approach, which is becoming much more collaborative and community-focused.

“We have taken a volunteer-generated report from Bike Worcester relating to barriers around Worcester, which we are now in the process of upgrading or removing based on their work.

“More recently, we have launched our consultation for improved cycling and walking provision around Redditch – the first in a series of local plans known as LCWIPs.”

He added: “It’s great that Active Travel England has recognised our progress. We have been working closely with them, including inviting them in to host a session with us to explore ideas and opportunities.

“They have provided us with some funding that will help us with some targeted improvements in Worcester and Droitwich, but to access a bigger funding pot we have to move up from Level 0 and we appear to be heading in the right direction.”

Speaking about the letter, Coun Rouse added: “I wasn’t happy to be told that core roads funding was at risk, especially as our public rightly demand us to focus on potholes and repairs.

“I knew we were already starting to make progress on cycling and walking improvements, including the new pedestrian bridge over the River Severn in Worcester currently under construction, and the improvements to the Arrow Valley Country Park in Redditch.”

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