READER'S LETTER: Conservatives should "step up for the first time" to help deliver the infrastructure for safer active travel

By Tom Avery

23rd Jul 2020 | Opinion

Dear Sir,

In the years that Cllr David Brown has been a Cheshire East borough councillor, he was the portfolio holder for highways and deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, until he lost his position due to a police enquiry over funding.

He was in charge of the budget for active travel, pavement maintenance, pushback of verge overgrowth and investment into segregated traffic free cycling infrastructure across the borough; all of which enable families to be active and safe on Cheshire East roads and pavements and allow children to walk and cycle to school.

Due to the lack of investment over many years, the infrastructure has declined and many pavements are dangerous to walk on because the overgrowth has reduced the pavement width.

The budget for pavement maintenance whilst the Conservatives ran Cheshire East Council was only £20,000 per year for across the borough, this lack of investment is why many pavements are damaged and not safe to walk on due to grass and weed overgrowth, making them especially dangerous for residents using mobility aids.

The budget for segregated cycle lanes to help families be active and safe was £0, and had been for all the years during the whole Conservative administration at Cheshire East Council.

Even after the success of the Tour of Britain in 2016 when there was a groundswell of support from residents for improvements to infrastructure, the Conservatives did not put any money into the active travel budget. They did nothing.

The time Cllr Brown should have spoken out to help families be active and safe on Cheshire East roads was when he was in a position to influence the policies and budget that support it. And again, he did nothing.

The new Labour/Independent administration have done more for families to be active with the adoption of the motion to combat climate change, which governs all of our policies to support investment into active travel measures, than the Conservative group ever did.

Cllr Brown wasted £3.7million pounds on a flawed Local Plan that wasn't adopted, and re-written at significant cost.

If he had done his job effectively, those wasted millions could have built over 50 zebra or toucan crossings, thousands of dropped kerbs and segregated cycle ways which would make families and children safer walking and cycling for local journeys.

And in Congleton, the through route for many children to cycle to school is along the Mountbatten Way dual carriageway alongside articulated and heavy lorries and fast moving traffic that leads to the Clayton Bypass with a speed limit of 40mph; and which children have to run across to travel from a primary school to local shops and restaurants.

That significant sum of money could have been spent on making the pavements safer to walk on and the roads safer to cycle on and safer places to cross the road for many families and children.

Instead of demanding action if the Conservatives including Cllr David Brown stepped up for the first time and helped us deliver the infrastructure for segregated cycle routes and active travel by securing significantly more funding, then we can move much quicker.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Suzie Akers Smith

Cycling and walking champion

Cheshire East Council


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