Woman with her son a bike

SOUTH YORKSHIRE’S MAYOR AND ACTIVE TRAVEL COMMISSIONER WRITE TO THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER

Published 13 March 2023 at 5:01pm

RT Hon Jeremy Hunt

Chancellor of the Exchequer

 

13 March 2023

 

Dear Chancellor,  

People across South Yorkshire and beyond want to make different, better choices about how they travel. The benefits of active travel should not need repeating. Suffice to say that more people walking, cycling more often across our region will help us address some of most difficult and entrenched problems that we face.  

South Yorkshire faces no shortage of those challenges. Like the rest of the country, we are in the middle of both a cost-of-living crisis and a climate crisis. Perhaps more so than anywhere else, our public transport system has seen substantial cuts; since October we have seen 15% of our network cut by bus operators, with more expected.  The healthy life expectancy in our poorest neighbourhoods is 20 years shorter than that of our richest neighbourhoods. Air pollution contributes to 1 in 20 deaths across our region every year.   

As a community, we are doing everything we can to address those challenges. That includes an ambitious plan for extending active travel networks across South Yorkshire. Our aim is to increase cycling trips by 350% and walking trip by 21% by 2040, supported by 1,109 km of active travel routes. 

We are committed to creating a region in which no one needs a car to get to work, see friends and family or to access opportunities near or far. 

That is why we are so deeply concerned by last week’s announcement that the total national capital allocation for active travel in 2023/24 and 2024/25 will be £100m, a quarter of recent levels. We are also worried about future revenue allocations with no date yet identified for any announcement.  

I recognise the difficulty you face in delivering significant public investment in our transport infrastructure given the state of country’s finances. However, balancing the books must not come at the expense of those plans and projects that are integral to the future health and wellbeing of our communities and our country. The value of active travel schemes cannot be measured by the price of their delivery alone, but by the benefits they offer in support of our wider ambitions; building healthier, happier and wealthier communities that are fit for the future. This is a direct cut in supporting children to walk and cycle to school safely at a time when the country has record childhood obesity levels. Sustrans estimate walking and cycling saves over a million extra GP appointments a year nationally.  

Taking a step back now, would be a significant blow to our vision for active travel.

We therefore urge you to reconsider the cuts to the active travel budget and to recommit your energy and efforts to working with us here in South Yorkshire, as well as Mayors and local authority partners across the country, to deliver the world class walking and cycling networks we need and deserve. 

 

With best wishes,

 

Oliver Coppard

South Yorkshire’s Mayor

Ed Clancy Active Travel Commissioner Signature

Ed Clancy

Active Travel Commissioner

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Last Updated: 20/11/2023

Published In: Mayor, Active Travel, Featured

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