Today was budget day in Scotland and our hopes were raised when we heard the words, ‘extra £10m next year for cycling and walking infrastructure’ in John Swinney’s budget speech. Has the government at last realised that if they truly want Scotland to ‘flourish through a balanced approach…..improving sustainability’ that active travel is one of the key ways of achieving that?
Unfortunately when you look at the detail the truth is a little more depressing. Until today’s budget the sustainable and active travel budget was due to drop by a significant amount from £29m in 2014/15 to £15m in 2015/16. Now the hole is a little shallower, but the best analysis from Spokes (and it does seem as if the government go out of their way to obscure what they areactually spending on active travel) is that spending will be at best static, or perhaps fall slightly over 2015-16
Whilst we welcome any increase in planned budgets and the ‘extra’ £10m is welcome, to put these numbers into perspective, the road budget increased from £639m to £695m. Imagine what a difference to that £56m could have made if it had been invested into cycling and walking: the form of transport that not only could make us a healthier society (perhaps easing the pressures on the NHS) – but a fairer one too.
It’s likely that Scotland will be handed greater control over spending in the next few years. Together we need to make sure that our politicians use that power wisely.