Extract: from the Daily Telegraph
Grant Shapps has told councils to stop abusing the £250 million fund meant for a green transport revolution by installing pointless one-way systems and barriers that offer “no benefit to anyone”.
Writing in The Telegraph, the Secretary of State for Transport says he will personally intervene to scrap the worst examples where local authorities have ruined high streets and residential roads in an attempt to build cycle lanes and promote social distancing for pedestrians.
His comments come after a series of petitions attracted thousands of signatures from people across the country who fear councils are pandering to the cycle lobby.
Campaign groups representing the disabled, small business owners, pollution activists and motorists have criticised the schemes for being rushed through with little or no consultation.
Many have claimed traffic congestion has been shifted elsewhere, while pollution has increased and many high street shops are struggling to emerge from lockdown because parking spaces have disappeared.
In some London boroughs, planters closing off roads have been vandalised amid concerns emergency vehicle response times have plummeted as firefighters and paramedics have encountered new road layouts.
Mr Shapps announced the £250 million scheme to promote “a new era for cycling and walking” at the height of lockdown in May.
But today, Mr Shapps stresses how “not everything has worked” and because they are trials and the height of the Covid emergency has now passed there is ample opportunity for councils to consult local residents, businesses and the disabled.
In a direct message to council leaders, he says: “Where some councils have abused the cash, my message is clear: speak to local residents, get it fixed or no more cash.”
He writes: “Some councils have introduced random one-way systems, which don’t seem to offer many benefits to anyone.
“Some of those plastic barriers that have gone up in town centres to widen the pavements can actually prevent pedestrians, including disabled people, crossing the road.
“They narrow the carriageway for traffic, causing congestion and increasing danger for cyclists. They reduce parking for essential visits to the pharmacy or dentist or doctor. And they don’t seem to be much used by pedestrians either.”