Local authority funding needs simplifying and less subject to government pet projects

All local authorities are in the middle of a funding crisis. The issue is that government, through DCLG, are reducing funding to help reduce the national deficit. This makes some sense but is now hurting the old, young, infirm and frail disproportionately.

But that is not the full story. Whilst DCLG hands out the main grant, throughout the year other government money is made available from other ministries. Often this extra money is project based so will start something but does not have funding to support it moving forward. Local authorities are encouraged to take this money, as it is seen as “free” money although it is all tax payers money of course. This means that activity is often carried out because grants are available not because it is a top priority.

Cycleway provision is one such “extra” funding stream. Now, if we put to one side the merits of cycling, it does seem ridiculous that a council is being forced to cut back on essential services for the elderly, infirm and children whilst at the same time having extra cash for cycle ways. In my opinion if it is a stark choice between keeping someone alive, clean and well or another cycleway even the most fanatical cyclist would not argue with that. I’m sure the health merits of cycling would be raised but 90 year olds don’t normally cycle.

The same has happened for many other projects.

Local authorities have local priorities. If all these extra government pots of money were brought together perhaps some of the funding cuts could be avoided. Local authorities are being encouraged to join up funding streams so perhaps government should do the same.


  1. The Dutch manage to look after their elderly and provide three road networks at the same time: for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. It is only because here the cycle network has been neglected for decades that current investment seems high, but compared to other budgets and other infrastructure investment (or when compared to the NL) little is spent on cycling.


    • I agree Holland has focussed on cycling more than we have. But, it is a flat country. The UK, is largely not flat. Can’t judge everything on Cambridge although many try to.

      The Dutch would be no more able to invest in cycling than us now.


  2. I sort of agree. Kind of. High quality cycling provision would cost less if we built into essential roads renewals. Many, many roads in the city need fundamentally rebuilt- the foundations are crumbling, the old gas, water and sewer mains are collapsing. Long term, it would cost much less in repairs if the streets were dug up and rebuilt. And they could go back in as cycle-friendly three-network designs.

    A lot of the poor cycling facilities are because councils are thrown scraps (£50k here, £450k there, a surprisingly big £4million now) rather than as, with new and upgraded roads and railways, being allocated vast sums to do complete projects (Crossrail, A14, HS2 etc)


    • Exactly. The guided busway is a great example having a well used cycle way along side it.


      • though that would have been far better had the cycleway been planned from the start – so that it didn’t switch sides at so many junctions, flood etc- and made a little bit wider with a separate foot-way. Remember that the final link to St Ives required money from Sustrans.


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