Social distancing funding for walking and cycling not split evenly

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Emergency funding for walking and cycling to help Londoners maintain social distancing is not being spread evenly across the city, Transport for London (TfL) figures reveal.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, introduced a fast track programme for temporary cycle lanes and widened pavements in May in response to the pandemic.

TfL is managing some projects, but £45 million cash will be split between boroughs, which can bid for funds – with more than £30 million allocated so far.

But there are huge discrepancies between London’s 33 local authorities – with £2.6 million separating the most successful bidder, Lambeth, from the least successful, Hillingdon.

The west London council – which covers Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s parliamentary constituency – has secured less than £12,000 from the Streetspace fund.

Barking and Dagenham, Kensington and Chelsea, Bexley and Westminster join Hillingdon at the bottom of the list – together they have just a quarter (26%) of the cash given to Lambeth.

Six of the seven Conservative-led boroughs in the capital – Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea, Bexley, Westminster, Barnet and Bromley – are in the bottom third for emergency funding.

A total of 37 schemes in the Square Mile have received £950,000.

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Havering, which has no overall party control but where Conservatives are the largest group, has also secured little cash.

Wandsworth is the only Conservative council in the top third, coming in eleventh.

Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince, the group’s transport spokesman, said he was unsurprised by the discrepancies.

“This mayor is the most partisan mayor we’ve ever had,” he claimed.

“If you look at all his Mayoral appointments you have to be a card-carrying member of the Labour party.

“That’s never been a condition before [under previous Mayors].”

But Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon laid the blame squarely with boroughs, noting the “stark” differences across the city.

“Making roads safer and delivering vital improvements for pedestrians and cyclists should be a priority for all London boroughs,” she said.

“Some are clearly up for the task, but other councils such as Bexley, Bromley, Havering and especially Hillingdon are totally failing to rise to the challenge.”

TfL and the Mayor’s Office were approached for comment.

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