Liberal Democrat Councillors at Mendip District Council are actively working to support and deliver ‘active travel’ strategies across the district with a focus on walking and cycling. The partners committed include Somerset County Council, Mendip’s City, Town and Parish Councils, in addition to local Chambers of Commerce and voluntary clubs.
The plan’s ambitious aim is to support local people who are keen to walk, run and cycle more. It recognises the challenges of reduced bus services in Mendip and people hesitant to travel on public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Encouraging sustainable transport through the creation of walking and cycling networks is a key priority for us as an administration and something we have been working on for the past year. Now is the time to work together and deliver, as people examine their lifestyles, and how they can get out and about in a safe way,” said Councillor Ros Wyke, leader of Mendip District Council. “We are determined to bring forward options such as the creation of pop-up cycle lanes, pavement widening, safer junctions, more 20mph speed limits and road closures.”
There are significant public health benefits as these plans have the potential to support social distancing, reduce the spread of the virus and improve health and wellbeing. Furthermore, they play an important role in reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality and supporting business recovery by helping to reinvigorate our high streets.
The official planning process has been launched following an announcement from Central Government’s Secretary of State for Transport that funding would be available for such highly localised solutions as we move out of the COVID-19 emergency. It includes a £250 million emergency ‘active travel’ fund to essentially re-allocate road space.
“The Lib Dems at Mendip see this as an opportunity for a better and more ecologically sound restart after lockdown,” continued Councillor Wyke. “We are positive that this initial round of funding announced by the government can significantly bolster our existing priorities already being delivered through the Council’s plan for a greener, fairer and more vibrant Mendip. We must all work at pace, together with Somerset County Council, to ensure opportunities are delivered locally in our towns and rural communities who desperately need better access and safe sustainable travel options. Now is the time to deliver and we will make it happen.