Lewes councillor calls for urgent cyclepath funding

Lewes district councillor Vic Ient has called for urgent funding to improve foot and cycle paths. SUS-160725-163253001
Lewes district councillor Vic Ient has called for urgent funding to improve foot and cycle paths. SUS-160725-163253001

A Lewes councillor is calling on East Sussex County Council to make urgent applications for funding before it misses deadlines for new government funding.

At a Lewes District Council meeting last Thursday (July 21) Liberal Democrat councillor Vic Ient called for fellow Lewes councillors to put pressure on the county council, warning that residents could miss out on a number of grants.

Cllr Ient says the grants, which are being offered by the Department for Transport to improve cycling and walking paths, could be last available for several years and should be applied for urgently.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Ient said: “I have spoken to the Department of Transport and they have confirmed to me that there is an opportunity for local transport authorities and LEPs [Local Enterprise Partnerships] to apply for funding.

“This may be the last opportunity we have for four years to seek funding for cycling and walking”.

Cllr Ient says he wants the council to apply for funding for the C7 road between Lewes and Newhaven. He said: “It is in urgent need of both revenue and capital funding to improve access and safety for walking and cycling to the villagers and to the main urban centres of Lewes and Newhaven”.

While Cllr Ient is calling for funding applications to be made urgently, he concedes that there is not much time for action, with the deadline for capital investment projects falling on Friday (July 28).

Revenue investments - for new signage as well as maintenance and upgrading of existing foot and cycle paths – can be made until Friday, September 9.

At the meeting he said he had written to county council chief executive Becky Shaw to request funding applications be made and said his proposal to the district council was intended to add weight to his request.

He said: “It’s not county councils or district councils that have funding control over much of the government’s non-trunk and motorway road spending. These days the government channel their funding for road, cycleways and footpath improvements via a thing called a ​‘local growth fund.’ Decisions of how this money is spent is made by the unelected executives of the Coast to Capital LEP; in other words a government ‘quango.’

“The LEP for our area may be about to submit a funding application for the next four years to the Department for Transport. The application goes in on July 28. I have asked the CEO of the LEP to apply for funding for the Lewes District. If we don’t apply another area will get the money.”

East Sussex County Council has been contacted for comment.

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