Stop the cuts to walking and cycling

by Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

Stop the cuts to walking and cycling

by Chris Todd, Transport Action Network
Chris Todd, Transport Action Network
Case Owner
We support local communities seeking better and more sustainable travel solutions. We also help people campaign against active travel and public transport cuts and oppose damaging road schemes
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Chris Todd, Transport Action Network
Case Owner
We support local communities seeking better and more sustainable travel solutions. We also help people campaign against active travel and public transport cuts and oppose damaging road schemes
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: April 25, 2024

We're in court on Tuesday!

We are busy preparing for our court hearing on Tuesday (30 April). The timing could not be more critical, coming less than 48 hours before local and mayoral elections. After the hearing we’ll b…

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In March 2023, ministers cut two-thirds of England’s dedicated funding for walking, wheeling and cycling, the cheapest and most effective forms of local travel in a cost of living crisis. Days later, ministers published an updated climate plan, showing the UK is set to miss its 2030 target due to carbon emissions from road transport. Do you think this makes sense? Well we at Transport Action Network don’t and hope you can help us challenge the decision by taking the Government to court. We need your support to to start the process off. Please contribute and share this page if you can help!

“Increasing walking and cycling can make life easier and more convenient for people, whilst helping to tackle some of the most challenging issues we face as a society – improving health and wellbeing, improving air quality, combatting climate change and tackling congestion on our roads.” 

These are not just our words but those of the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2022. It even acknowledged investment in active travel delivers some of the greatest benefits of all its proposals. But the new Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, is now in the driving seat. He recently told MPs he believes “the private car is the right method of transport”, no wonder he’s busy running down bus and rail services as well as slashing funding for walking and cycling.

This case is far more than being about climate change. The slashing of this vital budget is set to scupper new air quality targets to cut exposure to deadly particulates that damage children's lungs and older people’s brains in particular. Both the climate and pollution targets were set assuming cycling and walking would increase to 50% of shorter journeys in our towns and cities by 2030. But, even before the cuts, this ambition was in trouble. If we don’t invest much more in making places safe, convenient and appealing to walk, wheel and cycle, then people will keep driving, damaging health and increasing pressure on our NHS. Our streets will stay congested, our air unsafe to breathe and our climate on the road to disaster.

Which way to turn?

Do you want vibrant and walkable towns and cities, clean air, tree lined streets, peaceful paths through flower filled meadows and eye-catching bridges linking up new routes over railways, rivers and other barriers? Or a future of rising traffic levels, beeping horns, sprawling out-of-town developments and ever bigger, more hostile roads? 

The Government has been talking since 2017 about delivering a world class walking and cycling network by 2040. But it still has not even set out what this means, let alone how much it would cost. Instead it has decided to protect the largest ever roads programme by cutting active travel and public transport.

The cuts reduce dedicated cycling funding in England outside London to just £1.07 per person per year, compared to £17.40 in Wales and £34.30 in Scotland. This makes a mockery of claims to level up the country. There is a strong link between active travel rates, health and productivity but these cuts will hurt smaller cities, towns and left behind places the most.

Disabled people are less likely to drive than non-disabled people but face decades of discrimination entrenched in the built environment. Inaccessible barriers, narrow paths, steps with no ramps, muddy surfaces and hostile road conditions mean they can become trapped, especially in the many areas where bus services have been cut. The DfT acknowledges the importance of “consistent, long-term funding” to deliver consistent, accessible standards but has now made cuts without considering the equality impacts.

What is the case about

While budget decisions are normally hard to challenge in the courts, a 2015 law creates a duty on the Government to publish a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). This means they have to set walking and cycling objectives and then provide adequate funding to deliver them. Modelled on other transport funding, it includes legal requirements to protect the “certainty and stability” of a CWIS.

We believe that by making ad hoc announcements, ministers have tried to unlawfully bypass the framework set by Parliament. By cutting funding, there is now a stark and inevitable inconsistency between the active travel objectives and the funding to achieve them. Ministers appear to have failed to take into account the impacts on climate and air pollution targets. Also, their legal duties to make facilities more accessible for people with disabilities and cycling more inclusive for children, older people and women.

If we win, the decision to cut funding would be quashed. It would set an important precedent about the transparency required for both funding levels and their adequacy to meet active travel and wider government objectives. MPs have done their best to ask Parliamentary questions about the exact funding position but ministers have been evasive in their answers. So bringing a legal case is really our only option.

Who is bringing the case

Established in 2019, Transport Action Network (TAN) is a small and agile NGO that operates at both the national and grassroots level. We support local communities press for more sustainable travel and help them oppose cuts to bus and rail services, damaging road schemes and large unsustainable developments

We have a fantastic legal team led by David Forsdick KC, a highly ranked environmental lawyer, instructed by Leigh Day solicitors. Our team has over 100 years of campaigning experience, including the person that came up with the idea of the CWIS to protect active travel spending and got it into law.

What next

We now urgently need to raise £40,000 to cover the costs of bringing a judicial review. This includes court fees, heavily discounted costs of our own legal team and funding to cover the risk of being required to pay the DfT’s costs. In order not to miss the deadline for bringing the claim, we’ve had to issue proceedings already. But we won’t be able to fight the case in court unless we can raise this amount quickly.

The cuts reduce investment in walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, from £308 million to only £100 million for the next two years. So for every pound you can donate, you could save over £5,000 of active travel investment. Not to mention keeping pressure on politicians to deliver on this important issue in the run up to national and local elections in 2024.

Please help us by sharing this appeal widely, and thanks so much for reading this!

Chris and the rest of the team at TAN

PS - if we’re lucky enough to raise more than required we would use any surplus money to support local groups with their campaigning.

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Update 5

Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

April 25, 2024

We're in court on Tuesday!

We are busy preparing for our court hearing on Tuesday (30 April). The timing could not be more critical, coming less than 48 hours before local and mayoral elections. After the hearing we’ll be able to share a lot more information with you about the games the Government has been playing.

We now need your help to share the news and if you are in London on Tuesday, come along to the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, from 1 - 1:30pm to show your support - we’ll be taking a photo around 1:15pm. If you can, please be dressed in normal clothes. And if you can’t make it along, please look out for the hashtag #FundHeathlyTravel on social media (and like and share).

Please also share this crowdfunder as we urgently need to raise £3,700 to cover our legal fees. As a tiny NGO, every penny counts.

Many thanks and hope to see some of you on Tuesday!

Chris, Nisha and all at TAN

Update 4

Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

March 21, 2024

We’re building our case as situation worsens

At the weekend (is it too frightened to release this stuff during the week?) the Government published a whole series of new guidance about bus lanes, 20mph speed limits, camera enforcement and more. It was supposedly part of the plan for drivers, but the publicity around it was deliberately aimed at stoking culture wars.

Yet the Government’s insane position was exposed by more evidence published this week showing a continued lack of progress on decarbonisation. Even more worrying is that transport is responsible for most of the projected shortfalls. Reports, both here and in Europe, have called for a halt to roadbuilding and the need to get people out of their cars and onto other forms of transport. Yet the Government continues to make driving easier, while defunding walking, cycling and public transport. Not only is it reducing choice, but it is actively driving up emissions and making things worse. That’s why our challenge remains so important. We need to try and stop this madness.

The good news is that this week we met with the lawyers to start to flesh out our arguments that we’ll make in court on 30th April. However, we still need to raise another £8,500 in the next 5 weeks to cover our legal costs. So please help where you can and continue to share the crowdfunder.

Help us make the Government see sense!

Many thanks for your support,

Chris, Nisha and all at TAN

Update 3

Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

March 8, 2024

We have a date to challenge this insanity!

It’s now a year since the cuts to active travel funding were made and when the Government said it would look for extra funding “soon”. Meanwhile in the Budget, ministers have kept the 5p fuel duty reduction and unleashed billions for extra road building. This has been paid for by the cuts we’re challenging and by cuts to public transport. And cycling isn’t even listed as an example of what the money redistributed from HS2 can be spent on. Doesn't the sheer madness of this make you angry?

But the good news is that we have a date (30th April) to take the government to court. Unfortunately we haven't raised all our legal costs yet and desperately need to raise another £10,000 in the next seven weeks. Please help where you can and continue to share the crowdfunder

Many thanks for your support,

Chris, Nisha and all at TAN

PS - we’ve made the Guardian again, commenting on how the fuel duty freeze will steal money from sustainable alternatives 

Update 2

Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

Oct. 27, 2023

Green light to proceed!

Good news! After much waiting, our case challenging active travel funding cuts finally made it to the High Court on 26th October. Mr Justice Jay, listened to our and the DfT’s barristers, before ruling that our case was “potentially important” and should proceed on all three grounds of challenge. This is a significant hurdle, as many cases are stopped at this stage, or limited in what can be argued at a full hearing.

Sadly on the same day, ministers flippantly dismissed the Climate Change Committee’s call to reinstate funding for walking and cycling. With the Government going into reverse gear on climate commitments, and with its ‘Plan for drivers’, our litigation has become ever more important. 

Indeed it was only due to your funding that we were able to start this case in the first place. We now have to prepare for a full hearing in early 2024. As our claim is focused on active travel laws that haven’t been considered by the courts before, as well as testing climate and air quality targets, the judge acknowledged it was complex. The DfT will also have to disclose the information that was before the Minister when he took the decision. This means that we will need to do a lot of preparation and urgently need to raise another £20,000 for this work and towards our legal costs. 

Please share this update with friends, family and colleagues, as well as on social media.

Update 1

Chris Todd, Transport Action Network

Oct. 13, 2023

We're in court on 26th October

We’ll be in court on Thursday, 26th October for our permission hearing to determine whether we will be allowed to bring a judicial review of the Government’s decision to cut funding for active travel earlier in the year.

The Government claims it's still committed to active travel, but couldn't even come up with a single example in a £36bn list of transport projects that Rishi Sunak recently announced, on the back of cancelling HS2 north of Birmingham. This was a few days after Mark Harper had launched the ‘Plan for Drivers’, which will further undermine walking, wheeling and cycling. 

This will make it harder to reduce air and noise pollution and to reduce carbon emissions quickly enough. That’s why challenging these funding cuts is more important than ever.

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