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.