Hampshire councillor says budgeting for cycling improvements is not 'money well spent'

AN OUTSPOKEN councillor has hit out at a council's plans to invest millions of pounds into cycling infrastructure.

Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 2:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 2:52 pm

During a select committee meeting at Hampshire County Council last week, officers announced that £10m has been budgeted for cycling improvements, which are built into other projects.

But Conservative member for Purbrook and Stakes South, Cllr Gary Hughes, believes that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Read More

Read More
Councils to get police powers to fine drivers for traffic offences this year

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Conservative councillor Gary Hughes. Picture: Sarah Standing (020519-7934)

He said: 'I would contend that the money we're getting is not being spent wisely. We're using 10 per cent of our budget on cycling when only one per cent of people actually cycle regularly.

'Think of what we could do with £10m spent elsewhere on highways for the people of Hampshire.

'When we have such a small budget I don't believe that £10m is money well spent.'

Cllr Hughes, who is also a member of Havant Borough Council, faced fierce opposition to his views from other councillors.

A cyclist wearing Attacus cycle wear out on a ride. Picture: Michael Gillen

Independent member for Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, Cllr Louise Parker-Jones, said: 'This budget is making us look at things holistically.

'It's easy to say we need to take money from one area and put it elsewhere but we have to look at the bigger picture.

'That money we spend on cycling helps other road users too - if cyclists are using cycle paths and so on, it frees up the road network for motorists.'

Conservative member for Romsey Rural, Cllr Nick Adams-King, added: ‘Saying we shouldn't do something isn’t the right approach.

‘I'm not sure about the figure that only one per cent of people cycle either.’

Catherine Billam, partnerships and public affairs manager for Solent at Sustrans, a walking and cycling charity, said: ‘Statistics from the Department for Transport show that more than 20 per cent of the population of Hampshire cycle at least once a month.

‘According to our 2019 Bike Life report, safety is the largest barrier to even more people choosing to cycle. We support investment that creates a safe space for people to walk, wheel or cycle.

‘Being active while we make everyday journeys benefits our physical health and our sense of wellbeing. With more people leaving the car at home, it also reduces congestion and carbon emissions in the area.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.