07 June 2013

Why is there no 'autotrans'?

There's something I don't understand about transport funding in the UK.  Why is it that active travel funds  have to be 'bid for' from funds held elsewhere?  Why don't they just get budgeted for like other infrastructure?  I mean, we don't hear about plans to dual a motorway being contingent on the outcome of a bid to 'autotrans'?  or the improvement of local roads being cancelled because of an unsuccessful bids, do we?  (or have I missed the fine print?)

This has been puzzling me for a while, but became particularly pertinent today, with the very welcome news that the City of Edinburgh listened to our concerns about their previous proposals for Leith Walk, and have now put forward a revised set of proposals.  The new 'enhanced' designs respond to many concerns from local residents, workers and shoppers.  But they depend on a successful bid for national money, which we're now being asked to lobby the Scottish Government for.

Somehow, the Council happened to have exactly the right amount stashed away to improve Leith Walk, as long as it only involved existing tarmac and pavement configurations.  But add in 'bike lanes' and it's a whole new ball game and entirely impossible to do without 'securing outside funding'.

I do appreciate that the councils funds are limited, and I would very much like the Scottish government to fully back initiatives like this, because they will save them money many times over in health, environment and business income.

But, I still don't understand why projects like this are treated like they're optional extras, or somehow less important than 'normal' road building.  

Can anyone explain?

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