Victoria Avenue, Harrogate
Victoria Avenue, Harrogate

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) yesterday submitted its Active Travel Fund 4 (ATF4) bid.

It included:

  • £1,081,443 for Victoria Avenue, Harrogate (core bid for indicative amount)
  • £458,500 for Darlington Road, Richmond (extra bid to competitive pot)
  • £1,653,827 for A59 Knaresborough Road (extra bid to competitive pot)

The details are set out in a report to a council BES Executive Meeting.

Victoria Avenue (£1,573,277)

Victoria Avenue scheme
Victoria Avenue scheme

The Victoria Avenue scheme was funded by ATF2 in 2020. At that stage, NYCC asked for £250,000, which now looks way off the mark.

Now NYCC expects to add £1,081,443 from ATF4 to £491,834 from ATF2, making a total scheme cost of £1,573,277.

There are to be dedicated cycle tracks either side of Victoria Avenue, an improved pedestrian crossing at the junction with Belford Road, and remodelling of the Victoria Avenue/West Park junction.

Darlington Road, Richmond (£458,500)

Richmond scheme costs
Richmond scheme costs

Local authorities can bid for 300% of their indicative allocations. The extra bids are to be assessed competitively against all other local authority bids.

One of NYCC’s two extra bids is for a scheme in Richmond.

A59 Knaresborough Road (£1,653,827)

A59 scheme costs
A59 scheme costs

A59 Knaresborough Road was another ATF2 scheme, funded at £250,000 in 2020. Apparently it now costs £1.6 million.

How can there be such a huge increase in estimated costs? It makes it look as though NYCC was clueless in its ATF2 bids.

NYCC Comments

Executive Member for Transport Keane Duncan told the Harrogate Advertiser:

‘Our latest bid, worth more than £3 million, is another significant milestone in our efforts to deliver a more balanced approach to travel in the county, which will reduce emissions, cut congestion, and promote healthier lifestyles.’

cllr keane duncan

Councillor Duncan is wrong. A significant milestone will come if and when we see on-the-ground improvements.

We’ve seen NYCC make bids before. In 2017, they made a bid for the Otley Road cycleway; in 2023, Cllr Duncan decided to abandon the project with the cycleway less than half-finished.

Other active travel projects where NYCC have made bids but failed to build anything are Harrogate Station Gateway and all the ATF2 projects.

Time and again, NYCC bid for funding, but they are never capable of seeing projects through to on-the-ground improvements. They seem to make the bids for show, without any intention of following up with action.

‘Slightly Embarrassing’

Kevin Douglas of HDCA called Councillor Duncan’s comments ‘slightly embarrassing’ and pointed out that NYCC has no track record of delivery.

Victoria Avenue makes sense as a link between the schemes on Station Parade and Beech Grove, but NYCC is not certain of proceeding with Station Parade, and has abandoned the scheme on Beech Grove.

NYCC’s lack of commitment to its own active travel schemes makes its whole strategy look incoherent or non-existent.

Next Steps

Active Travel England is expected to make a decision on all the bids on Friday 17th March 2023, and to pay out the funding by the end of March.

Construction is supposed to begin (or at least, a business case is supposed to be signed off) by 31st March 2024.

North Yorkshire Active Travel Fund 4 Bid

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