Unanimous support for Richmondshire cycle paths proposal

The road between Richmond and Brompton-on-Swale.

Richmondshire District Council has unanimously approved pressing for the area to be prioritised for cycle and pedestrian routes as bids are submitted for a share of the government’s £250 million emergency active travel fund.

Members of Richmondshire District Council enthusiastically backed a motion from the the leader of the Green Party and Independent group on the authority, Councillor Leslie Rowe, to also focus efforts on creating a cycle route from Scorton and Brompton on Swale to Richmond and for a report on progress towards developing cycle routes in Richmondshire in line with Government policy, as soon as possible.

The decision marks a significant change in the council’s stance since December, when a similar motion by Cllr Rowe was rejected.

This time, ahead of the meeting, his proposal to create a six-mile cycle lane on the B6271 had been backed by 650 residents in a petition and the county council’s leader had said while it “seems a good idea”, it would need examining to see if it represented good value for taxpayers and that there were numerous other suggested schemes.

Cllr Rowe told the meeting while issues such as paths, roads and cycle routes were a county council responsibility, as the planning authority the district council also had a duty to ensure provision of safe routes for children to ride to school and for workers to get fitter.

He said if there was any chance of the country achieving its carbon cutting targets bikes would have to be a much more common transport choice and during the pandemic cycle shops had seen record sales. He said: “It has got to be more healthy to cycle than to be couped up in a vehicle, even with masks.”

Cllr Rowe said while Richmondshire had been overlooked for cycle routes in favour of places such as Harrogate, the proposal would strengthen North Yorkshire County Council’s claim for a share of the grants the government was offering for such schemes.

He said: “We do need to send a strong message that Richmondshire needs these cycle paths for the sake of tourism, to meet our climate change targets and most importantly for the enjoyment, safety and fitness of our residents.”

However, Councillor Stuart Parsons told members the government was seeking easy solutions in flat, urban areas, and the county council had been penalised when bids for the first round of cycle path grants were submitted for “trying to do the decent thing and include the whole county”.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale, described the proposal as “an absolutely marvellous idea”, and Conservative councillor Ian Threlfall said the scheme would prove popular in villages such as Scorton, but was concerned about the county council’s ability to maintain new cycle routes as it already struggled to keep paths to a good standard.