ICAG condemns Council budget cuts

Islington cyclists have attacked Islington Council’s failure to plan for proper cycle training, cycle parking and anti-theft work.

Commenting on Islington’s Borough Spending Plan for transport, Islington Cyclists’ Action Group highlighted a trail of budget cuts, missed opportunities and broken promises – at a time when more and more residents want to get on their bikes.

Among the failures noted by ICAG in the latest transport spending plan are:

Cycle training – The Council has failed to bid for the full £85,000 on offer from the  Mayor of London. Instead Islington is asking for just £50,000 for the next financial year.

ICAG had asked for the Borough to spend at least £150,000, in line with neighbouring Hackney Council.

"Ken Livingstone has plenty of money to spend on cycle training, but Islington cannot even be bothered to bid for it", said ICAG Co-ordinator Andrew Cornwell. "The result is  that the vast majority of Islington school pupils will continue to go without cycle training."

Preventing bike theft – Even though Islington has the highest level of bicycle theft of any local authority in the UK, the Council has completely scrapped its budget bid for anti-theft work. Past awareness campaigns will not now be repeated, and the Council has dropped its plans to provide secure bike parking facilities.

"This decision goes directly against assurances given by the Council’s Head of Transport Planning earlier this year", said the ICAG Co-ordinator. "We were promised that the Council would improve its performance on bike theft, but instead they have cut  out this budget line completely."

Providing proper cycle parking – in the face of a desperate shortage of bike parking in Islington, the Council has frozen its bid to the Mayor at £25,000 – in effect, a cut in  real terms. ICAG has asked that £125,000 a year be spent to cope with the recent upsurge in cycling.

Future budget cuts – Islington Council is planning to cut the local cycling budget by a staggering 59 per cent for 2007-08 and a further 37 per cent in 2008-09.

"These massive cuts show the Council’s fine words about encouraging cycling are pure spin", commented Andrew Cornwell. "The reality is that Islington has no intention of investing seriously in cycle routes, training, parking and providing better security for cyclists."

Islington Council’s cuts come at a time of record growth in cycling after the London bombings. A survey carried out by ICAG this summer showed an 88 per cent increase in cycle commuters at the key City Road / Colebrook Row junction.