Ambition programme wildly off track

Newcycling warns this week that Newcastle council risks serious ridicule. This comes after the group have carried out a progress assessment of the Cycle City Ambition Fund, see (1 and 4). Many projects are more than a year behind schedule leaving £1m project spend at risk and many more millions of pounds undeclared.

Newcycling, Newcastle’s cycling campaign, recently addressed Newcastle council’s Cycle Forum to make the case for better collaboration, design and planning, see (2).

Katja Leyendecker, chair, says “We want Newcastle’s excellent and ambitious policies of a better fairer city to be implemented, better sooner than later. So it’s sad to note that four years on from the petition being handed to council in 2010, see (3), the sweeping road changes that were promised to improve cycling safety have not been done. The money is there. It is our assessment however, that millions of pounds will be left unspent and will be lost, as could be Newcastle’s reputation as a city, because projects are stuck in planning stage or not even started yet.

“We looked at the available figures and plans, see (4), and found that the City Ambition programme is massively behind its original schedule; some projects are more than a year late. I believe the council is kidding itself to think they will deliver this by the deadline next year. We ask the programme board – who seem oblivious to all this – to outline just how the programme will be delivered and what projects, and when. We’d welcome to give evidence to the board.

“Hopefully we can avert the biggest heartaches and ridicule. We estimate that £1m is currently put at risk – that’s a quarter of the cycleway construction budget – with more to follow quickly, as time marches on. City centre cycle plans and Welbeck Road’s cycle lanes have been shelved so it seems, and it’s not clear what’s replacing them. Engagement is abysmal – information doesn’t flow, even just finding simple numbers is hard.

“One year into the programme, at half-way point, and Newcastle seems lost. We need successes, on the ground, not more feasibility studies and convoluted red-tape processes.”


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