Parties lock horns over £500,000 boost to walking, cycling, scooting and public transport in Milton Keynes

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Politicians locked horns over plans to spend £500,000 on promoting walking, cycling, scooting, and public transport.

The Tories criticised the plans at a meeting on Tuesday but were themselves accused of contradicting the Conservative Government’s own approach.

Plans include spending £100,000 on redway “super routes” on the V6 and V7 including on signs, lights, resurfacing, and the painting underpasses.

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Thirteen other redways have been earmarked for lights and signs, and cutting back on the undergrowth. There could even be film screenings in underpasses, the meeting heard.

Cllr Lauren Townsend (Lab, Bletchley West) Milton Keynes Council’s transport portfolio holder praised the sustainable transport plan as “quite an exciting piece of work.”

Agreeing to go ahead with the plans at the delegated decisions meeting, she said: “I’m very proud of this package. It supports our ambition to make a great city even greater.

“We should not expect people to be reliant on private cars and that is going to be important with the climate crisis.”

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She said it would encourage people to get out and about, as well as supporting the use of cycling, and walking, as alternatives to people getting back into their cars.

Cllr Lauren TownsendCllr Lauren Townsend
Cllr Lauren Townsend

But Tory leader Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) said: “Last week your narrative was there is no money, now you have £500,000.

“Clearly it is a matter of priorities rather than having no money to play with.

“At a moment when we should be putting everything into saving jobs, there are items here that are not essential.”

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And Cllr Allan Rankine (Cons, Bletchley Park) said there are better uses for £500,000.

Cllr Alex WalkerCllr Alex Walker
Cllr Alex Walker

He said” We are potentially facing the worst financial crisis the council has ever seen. Every pound spent is important.

“I am at a loss to see how this will boost the local economy.

“It is time for the administration to take the threat on the local economy seriously.”

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He wants money spent on protecting bus routes that are set to be axed next April.

But Cllr Townsend said the council did have a £2million economic recovery plan and one for a new system of public transport to replace lost bus routes.

But this investment would help encourage people to visit “hidden gems” in the city, and spend money, she said.

She added: “Your Government has been pushing active transport because people have been getting out their bicycles, and walking. The Government is trying to encourage this.”

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And Lib Dem Cllr Robin Bradburn (Bradwell) said he was becoming a “little tired” of Conservative attacks.

“They cry crocodile tears about bus sustainability and they at the same time want to offer two hours free parking, diminishing the parking income by a further million pounds,” he said.

He urged the Tories to lobby the Conservative Government for more money instead of reminding the council of economic problems ahead.