York given a low active travel score – despite being the new home of Active Travel England
York has been given the second lowest active travel rating.
City of York Council has been given a ranking of 1 for its performance on improving walking or cycling in the city. The lowest score is 0, the highest is 4.
A score of 1 means ‘Some local leadership and support with basic plans and isolated interventions.’
The ranking was given by Active Travel England, the government’s new cycling and walking executive agency.
Headed by Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman, its HQ will be in York, it was announced in January 2022.
Active Travel England’s independent assessment contrasts with to the city’s self-assessment.
York Cycle Campaign claimed the council marked itself as a 3 – meaning “very strong local leadership and support, comprehensive plans, and majority of the network in place with increasing modal share”.
However executive member for transport Cllr Andy D’Agorne says the council’s overall self-assessment grade was 2. And he added that Active Travel England said its score could be raised to grade 2 “once we have progressed with delivery of the current programme of schemes and the work underway to formally adopt a cycling and walking strategy”.
York Cycle Campaign described the Active Travel England ranking as a ‘demotion to one of the lowest grades’. And it means the city is awarded less funding.
“Cycling levels in York have fallen by over one third since 2014. This demotion is damaging for the city and will make it far harder for York to meet our active travel targets and give people the transport choices that they so badly need,” says Andy Shrimpton, from York Cycle Campaign.
Since July 2020 City of York Council has been awarded more than £1 million to spend on active travel schemes, but has barely managed to spend any of the cash or progress any of the schemes, critics say.
The cycle campaign has also accused the council of including false information on its active travel self-assessment – you can read the detailed allegation here.
However the council denies that is the case.
“We strongly refute the claim that we have included false information within our self-assessment submission and that we knowingly answered questions incorrectly,” a spokesperson said.
“Our self-assessment submission accurately reflected the position of our Active Travel Programme and the schemes contained within it, in line with our understanding of the information Active Travel England were requesting.”
At the executive meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Labour Group deputy leader Pete Kilbane asked: “Given that Active Travel England have just recently downgraded City of York Council’s performance on active travel from a 3 to a 1, meaning that we will be eligible to apply for less funding from Active Travel England, why should residents have any confidence that this administration will be able to deliver and enact an ambitious local transport plan that will meet the targets that we have set ourselves?”
According to Cllr Kilbane the council has been awarded £367,698 by the Government, from an overall pot of £200m, and can only bid for funding for very basic schemes. He added: “This administration’s performance in this area has been woeful.”
Cllr D’Agorne told YorkMix: “While I can fully appreciate the concerns of the campaign about future funding, as an authority we have already moved into a position of having a pipeline of schemes which fit into our strategy, have been researched and are closer to being ready for detailed design and construction when the funding can be secured.”
And the City of York Council spokesperson said York wasn’t demoted by the 1 ranking. “Active Travel England assessed us at a different level to our self assessment, we have not been downgraded.”
And they defended the council’s record on active travel schemes.
“We are investing £2 million in infrastructure, much of which is £1.2 million of CYC funding complementing the funding from Active Travel England.
“We have also started work on Tadcaster Road, which has seen £1.4m from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for walking and cycling improvements. We are also preparing a bid for additional support from the Department for Transport’s Tranche 4 Active Travel Fund.
“The York Outer Ring Road upgrade proposals include a new orbital cycleway extending from Rawcliffe to Earswick, providing a £5 million investment in active travel along that route, with a future opportunity to extend further east to North Lane in Huntington in-line with proposed residential developments.”