Today the Department for Transport has published guidelines on applying for grants from the sustainable transport fund.
This fund will provide £560 million over 4 years to 2014-15.The total amount allocated for this year is £80m. However £11m of this has already been allocated for Bikeability training. By my reckoning this leaves £69m. The annual funding goes up to £140m next year, of which £11m goes to Bikeability. It's all a bit shabby, but I'm not going to get into whether this overall level of funding is reasonable or not. That's what it is, and there isn't much any of us can do about it until the next election. The more immediate issue is how to make sure that it is used wisely.
Basically, each of our local authorities need to plead for their share of the money. It's a bit complicated to work out exactly who can apply, but I reckon it's about 150 local authorities in England. So that's about £1/2m for each authority this year, and a bit less than £1m each next year (on average).
The important thing is that the DfT will assess proposals on the basis of whether they meet two core policy objectives. Those are: supporting the local economy, and reducing carbon emissions. Beyond that it will help if proposals also deliver wider social and economic benefits (such as improving accessibility and social inclusion), improving safety, bringing about improvements to air quality and wider environmental benefits, and promoting increased levels of physical activity.
(this my summary - please refer to the source documents for the whole paraphernalia).
My current plan is to contact my local councillors to ask what proposals my own local authority is putting forward. In addition to the criteria above, the DfT says that they will also assess the degree to which any proposals have the support of the local community. So it sounds as though I ought to have an opportunity to express my support (or otherwise).
Before I put this into action, does anyone have any further suggestions?