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West Berkshire Council to receive £495,000 to enhance cycling and walking infrastructure following bid to Department for Transport

2020 - Active Travel Fund

30 November 2020

West Berkshire Council has been awarded £495,000 from the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund, following the Council's bid to further develop a lasting, safe environment for walking and cycling. The grant is in addition to the £124,000 awarded in the first phase of allocations in July that went towards temporary active travel measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council's Active Travel proposals for the next phase primarily consist of permanent measures to create and improve travel routes for cyclists and pedestrians on the A4 corridor within Newbury and Thatcham. The plans also include a pilot School Zone/School Street Scheme in Calcot.

These activities are designed to enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists; promote health and wellbeing; improve the environment, air quality and sustainability; and play a key role in COVID-19 economic recovery plans. The proposed schemes have factored in resident feedback through previous community consultation. In addition, the Council will be launching a series of consultations starting in January 2021 so that residents can have their say on how each of the proposed Active Travel plans are implemented.

The national Active Travel Fund was launched to deliver attractive cycling and walking alternatives to the travelling public for shorter journeys, and support the Government's drive to tackle obesity given its association with COVID-19. According to the Department for Transport, funding is granted for local authority proposals showing meaningful plans to reallocate road space to active travel, with final allocations based on the strength of these bids.

Local authorities were invited to submit proposals to the Active Travel Fund in May and the first phase of allocations was announced in July. West Berkshire Council's plans for Phase 1 were endorsed by the Department for Transport and the full amount of £124,000 was approved. In the Phase 2 funding allocations recently announced by the Department for Transport, West Berkshire Council has secured the further £495,000 towards more permanent measures to encourage active travel, representing 100% of the funding allocation.

Councillor Richard Somner, Executive Member for Transport and Countryside at West Berkshire Council, said:

"We're pleased that we have again been successful in securing the full funding allocation and are excited to get moving on further projects that will make walking and cycling around West Berkshire even more safe and enjoyable. This also fully supports the Council strategy for maintaining a green district.

"When the funding was first announced, we received a number of ambitious ideas for possible schemes from across the community. Now we have confirmation of the funding, we can make some of these ideas a reality, and we will continue to engage our community for their say on how we shape the plans.

"This is really great news for local people as these steps will help all of us to contribute to our shared vision for a cleaner, greener West Berkshire."