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Ealing and Northfield

Ealing’s Labour MAMILs are not so much cycling as spinning

Good news today that Ealing has been shortlisted as one of six boroughs to receive funding from a £100 million budget set up by the Mayor of London to create “mini-Holland” areas with exceptional facilities for cycling. The council’s officers are good at bidding for these pots of money and they are to be congratulated for getting us this far with this exciting scheme.

The London Mayor is a keen cyclist and has prioritised the spending of our transport Pounds in London on cycling, exemplified by his £913 million
“Crossrail for the bike” vision.

Those MAMILs againYou might think that with the council leader and transport spokeman’s extravagant lycra wearing that they would have directed some funds to cycling rather than to the uneconomic car park in Southall that they opened last Friday. No. Essentially the London Borough of Ealing spends nothing on cycling. Any cycling funds, whether revenue or capital come almost exclusively from TfL and the London Mayor.

This information is hard to get hold of because the council’s expensive comms people are not always as careful as they should be to point out the source of the council’s funds.

I asked the following question (number 35) at the June council meeting:

Could the portfolio holder list the revenue and capital spending projects related to cycling and encouraging cycling in the 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years and state the source of funds for each of these?

Officers gave a very incomplete answer that related to capital only. It is badly drafted and contains a number of errors. What you can see is that out of the £4-5 million a year spent on cycling capital projects in Ealing the council contributes less than £10K per annum. I only got this answer after I chased for it and it has never been published by the council.

At the next council meeting I asked the question again to get the revenue side of the picture. This time the council lost all of my questions. I finally got an answer on 13th August from officers having first asked it on 11th June. Again this has not been published. The first bullet of the answer says it all really:

My understanding is that Cllr. Taylor now requires information on the source and allocation of funds from revenue budgets related to encouraging cycling in the three financial years from April 2011 until the end of March 2014.

1. Almost all the revenue funding used to encourage and support cycling in the Borough comes from Transport for London through the Local Implementation Plan 2011 – 2014.
2. Of this, the majority comes from the Direct Support for Cycling programme of activities. Some other activities are funded through the School Travel programme (such as cycle incentive schemes, BMX and cycle sport instruction) and the Smarter Travel programme (such as supporting the SACA Birmingham – Southall charity ride) . Both School Travel and Smarter Travel programmes are also funded through the Local Implementation Plan 2011 – 2014 from Transport for London. In addition £8,000 has been made available through the LIP for National Bike Week programmes over the three years in question: this year this funding went towards the Ticket to Ride cycle ride event.
3. For the years in question LB ealing has been designated by TfL as a “Biking Borough”. This entitled receipt of additional Biking Borough funding, primarily capital funding to the ealing Broadway Cycle Hub, and also for residential cycle parking. It also included revenue budgets for promotional materials and publicity of approximately £7,000 per annum, and £4,000 for After School Clubs, as well as small amounts of c.£1,500 to augment activities funded in the DSC programme.
4. The Direct Support for Cycling (DSC) programme won the National Transport Awards “Achievements in Cycling” award in 2012. A full account of the DSC programme in 2011/2012 is given in “DSC 9”, the last of the annual reports we have prepared specifically on this programme.
5. The budget for the Direct Support for Cycling (DSC) programme has been £200,000 in the current year and last financial year, and £190,000 in 2011/2012.
6. DSC spend in each of these years has been on a variety of projects. The main area of spend is on schools cycle training, mainly for Years 5 and 6. The second main area of spend is the programme of cycle training for adults, families and children not trained in school. Cycle training is to National Standards specified by the Department for Transport and referred to as Bikeability.
7. The breakdown for projected spend this financial year is as follows:
(a) Schools cycle training: £95K
(b) Adults, families and non-schoolchildren: £50K
(c) Dr Bike cycle health checks £20K
(d) GP referral cycle training programme £6K. While we have the assistance in staff hours from colleagues in Public Health, we do not receive any funding from this source.
(e) Southall Women’s Cycle Club £5K
(f) Training in Safe Urban Driving (Cyclist and pedestrian awareness) to HGV drivers employed by the Council: £2K
(g) Survey and evaluation of training: £2k
(h) Allocation to fund LB Ealing staff: £20K (in the previous two years this has not been required).
8. However, we have just heard that TfL has awarded an additional £165,000 to LB Ealing under the TfL Borough Cycling Programme for 2013/2014. Of this £15K will go to monitoring, £80K to cycle parking, and £70,000 to cycle training. There will therefore be an additional £70 K available to elements of the DSC programme.
9. In the three years referred to we have also used c.£6,000 from two Section 106 agreements to fund the “Keep Riding through Winter” scheme in the DSC programme.
10. In 2011/2012 we used £2,000 from a Ward Forum for additional schools cycle training.
11. Apart from these sources, the Council has bid to Transport for London for a major project known as the “Mini-Holland”, which would be primarily capital but also include revenue funding for cycling if successful. We will learn the result of this bid at the end of 2013.

So that it then. No amount of Lycra adorned photo opportunities can hide the fact that Ealing spends nothing on cycling. The Mayor and TfL do. The council doesn’t.

2 replies on “Ealing’s Labour MAMILs are not so much cycling as spinning”

Phil,
yes, isn’t it good news that Ealing has some funds to spend on cycling.

And that you are in a position to know that well more than half of council funding is via government in one way or another.
Ealing council, along with all other councils in England, raises only a fraction of total expenditure from Council tax.
There are dribbles of income from other sources, such as a car parking surplus (which is ring-fenced for transport causes).
But most council expenditure is on things that are mandated by government and funded by government, such as schools, social services, and housing.
Discretionary funds are in short supply.

And becoming less it seems from paragraph 4.2.1 in the 2013-14 budget review about the main funding from government;
“The level of formula grant is a key driver in the budget process, as it funds around half the Council’s net revenue budget.
Nationally, the formula grant has been reduced by 28% over the spending review period from 2010/11 – 14/15.
For Ealing, the Government announced the 2012/13 formula grant of £132.3M.
This is an 8.4% reduction compared to 2011/12 on a like for like basis.”
(from Reduction of Local Government Funding in 2013/14 and beyond, on 19th June.)

You also mention that TfL provides funding for cycling.
But of course TfL doesn’t generate this funding itself.
Similar to councils, TfL gets most funding from government.

Perhaps you could check what constrains cycling expenditure by councils before launching into print?

Steve

Steve,

You make some good points but fail to address my point. I was merely pointing out the disconnect between Bell and Mahfouz’s posing and their decisions in areas where they do have some control.

The capital budget is one where the council does have some discretion. This council has decided that £2.5 million on a car park in Southall which will lose money is a good idea. Money that could have been spent on cycling or new roads (which are good for cyclists too) has gone to a Southall property owner so that a couple of cars can look lonely in the new car park.

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